Bus Riders Speak Out About Proposed Transit Changes

By: Parrish Alleman Email
By: Parrish Alleman Email

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Monday April 30, 2012

Bus riders flocked to Wichita's city hall Monday evening to speak out against proposed transit changes that would cut back on some routes and eliminate service to parts of the city. The reason for the changes is a half million dollar shortfall in Wichita Transit's budget.

The shortage in the budget was caused by higher fuel prices and a lower revenue. In order to avoid going over budget, Wichita Transit is proposing to start making hourly stops only instead of every half hour. Also, they propose to eliminate two bus routes that run to Goodwill Industries and the city's northwest side and Mid-Continent Airport.

The people who depend on buses daily aren't happy about the changes.

“I rode Wichita Transit buses every single day to two different jobs and I can tell you right now beyond a shadow of a doubt, I wouldn't have one of those jobs if it weren't for Wichita Transit,” one man said at Monday night's public hearing.

Wichita's Director of Transit Michael Vinson tells us although these changes will be inconvenient for some bus riders, the reality is they have to cut back somewhere.

“Without the implementation of these proposal we would not be able to make budget,” Vinson said.

Wichita Transit will present the suggested changes to city council on May 15. The director tells us he hopes council will vote immediately because they need to make changes quickly to save money. If passed, the proposal will go into effect June 9.

UPDATE: Monday, April 30, 2012

Wichita bus passengers may soon have to change their daily commutes. City leaders are trying to make up a half million dollar shortfall in the transit system budget. At a public hearing Monday night, residents will get the chance to voice their opinion on the proposed changes.

Wichita Transit is asking the city council to approve a plan that would cut the current schedule of half-hour stops down to hourly stops during peak morning and evening commute times. They also plan to eliminate daily bus service to Goodwill and the Westside Connector bus route.

Director of Wichita Transit Michael Vinson says these changes are necessary to offset increased fuel and operating costs and lower than expected revenues.

"They're very tough, very tough. We've just concluded a study for future options for transit to try to improve service. For now, we can't do anything about where our budget is so we have to make those tough decisions up front," said Vinson.

Vinson says if the budge improves in the future, they hope to eventually reinstate the bus services. If approved, the changes will take effect June 9.

KAKE's Parrish Alleman will have the latest on tonight's public hearing on KAKE News at 10.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Wichita leaders are asking for input as the city works to balance a transit budget shortfall.

Increased operating costs and lower than expected revenues could cost the transit service $540,000. Officials are recommending hourly stops, as opposed to half-hour stops during peak times to offset the loss. The proposal maintains half-hour stops for South Main and East Harry.

Service reductions would also include the elimination of a service that transports riders to Goodwill Industries at 37th and Oliver. Also proposed is the elimination of the Westside Connector route, which provides service to northwest Wichita and Mid-Continent Airport.

Wichita bus rider David Heath says the changes would be disastrous for him. "My doctor and eye doctor is on the west side," said Heath. "I am disabled so I can't walk a long way."

The proposed service changes, which must be approved by the Wichita City Council, would take effect on June 9.

Wichita Transit will hold a public hearing regarding proposed service changes April 30 at 6:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 455 N. Main. Visitors to City Hall must go through security.

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