J500 Media and the Environment


riding the Chocolate Rabbit by acbowman
February 20, 2008, 12:08 pm
Filed under: Cars + Transport, Local Events + Action

Lawrence Kansas has a population of about 90,000 people.
Right now the city is debating ways to fix traffic congestion. At the same time the city is thinking of cutting the public bus.
In the local paper, people have argued, (sometimes vehemently), for or against the bus.
This video makes the argument for a bigger better bus system in Lawrence. The type of bus system that is so easy and convenient that cars become garage decorations.

-Adam

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9 Comments so far
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Cool video, Adam…I especially liked the editing.

Of course, you know that I’ll take issue with your solution of privatizing public transportation (an oxymoron, don’t you think)…but, like always, we can agree to disagree.

To the larger point, though, you’re right–the “T” needs to be more user-friendly, accessible, efficient, etc. In many ways, it reminds me of the Washington DC subway system…that subway is extremely clean, safe, and punctual, but it doesn’t reach all corners of town, so ultimately it’s not the most effective system…of course, the reason it doesn’t stretch to all corners is because many folks (understandably) don’t want to have their neighborhoods dug up so that subway stations/tracks can be added…at least with our bus system that’s not a concern, so we really have no excuse for not making this work better.

Anyway, I enjoyed your video clip!

-Ranjit

Comment by rarab

Adam, well researched and put together. Can see the documentary filmmaker in you there. As for content, you’re on the button about the inefficiency of the system. I’ve ridden the “T” and though friendly its drivers, the same can’t be said for the system itself. So, a rather creative way of highlighting such an issue. I just wish problems of accessibility and the like are addressed in KDOT’s Comprehensive Transportation Program that’s being considered by the city fathers.

-Denzyl

Comment by denzylj

Awesome video! I have always wondered about the T, but haven’t ever taken it because of the reasons you listed.

I’ve only lived in Lawrence for two years, but I see the west side of town looking strikingly similar to the typical suburb. I agree with you about needing to make the bus system more efficient, but what about maybe changing zoning laws so that the west side could be a bit more like downtown?

But that’s a much bigger discussion (and can you even de-suburbianize an area?). City leaders need to find a way to make the T more attractive to people on all sides of this town, but to even do that, they will need to be prodded by the citizens.

Comment by Lauren Keith

If you privatized the system and let a company, group of shareholders, or whomever “charge what is needed to provide the service” would it still only cost $1.50? Does any other city in the world have or attempted private public transportation?

~Sarah H

Comment by shemme

Here is an example of a very forward thinking city in Brazil. Although their bus is private, like ours, it is paid for by the city I believe.
http://urbanhabitat.org/node/344

In my research, I haven’t found a current bus system that is completely private. What I found is that many used to be private. As time went on, to keep up with costs of operation, the fairs were getting high. So cities stepped in to ensure low fares, and thus buses became highly subsidized. Not necessarily a bad thing, but somehow you have to convince people to pay taxes for it.

I have no idea what it would cost if it were privatized. It is very possible that is not a feasible option. But it definitely seems like there is a large population of lawrence that don’t want to pay for a stronger T through taxes.

Truthfully, this may be an arena where Ranjit and I would be on the same page. There probably needs to be city governmental mandates to make public transportation more appealing. Namely more expensive parking downtown, more buses, and more routes.

-Adam

Comment by acbowman

Hey Adam, did you see this?

http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2008/jan/16/city_commission_apply_grant_pay_buses/

~Sarah

Comment by shemme

Sarah-

Yes, and cited it in my video. Notice how they don’t want to commit to providing the T next year. At the same time are working towards lower co2 emissions. Contradictory? I think so.

-Adam

Comment by acbowman

Sorry Adam, you did cite that in your video. Sometimes by the end, I forget what was in the beginning! Yes, it is very strange. Sounds like they don’t even care if they waste a $500K grant on a program that may or may not continue.

Where are the blogs you mentioned in your video? How many people participated? Where is this “large population” that is against taxes to pay for a better T?

~Sarah H

Comment by shemme

[…] It’s an 8 minute trip by car, 25 by bike, and close to 40 minutes if I take the T. (Check out this video for a sense of what that’s like). So you can probably do the math and figure out how I […]

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