Wichita Transit seeks input from public

By: Phil White Email
By: Phil White Email

Upcoming Public Meetings

Wichita Transit officials will gather public input at two upcoming district advisory board meetings Nov. 4. 

The District V advisory board meets at 6:30 p.m., Nov. 4, at Fire Station 21, 135th Street West and 21st Street North. The District VI advisory board will also meet at 6:30 p.m., Nov. 4 at the Evergreen Recreation Center, 2700 N. Woodland. 

Transit officials will discuss the planned new routes in west Wichita as well as goals for improving bus service across the city. 

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WICHITA, Kan. -- Wichita Transit is reaching out to the public for input on how it can best serve the west side of the city..

Two new bus routes through west Wichita will go into service next spring. As transit officials seek information to help them fine tune the routes, they're also getting plenty of input from riders who want to help improve the system across the city.

A handful of those who use the transit system and those who would like to if it were more convenient attended a public input meeting at Northwest High School Wednesday evening.

"I see the buses go by every day and I haven't taken it," said Robyn Sims. "I want to."

Sims problem is getting from her home near Douglas and Grove to Wichita State University would take more than an hour on transit buses. She hopes Wichita will be able to afford moving to a grid transit system rather than the hub-and-spoke system in which all bus routes lead to and from downtown.

"I think Wichita has an opportunity to be a sustainable city and I think public transit is one of the ways we can do that," Sims said.

A big challenge to making more buses available more often is funding.

"A lot of our operating has been coming from other sources like federal grants, state money, stuff like that," said Philip Zevenbergen, an associate planner for Wichita Transit. "We need more of a foundation from a local source."

That requires increasing ridership. The best bet for that, Zevenbergen said, is increasing ridership by improving service.

Those encouraging increased use of the city's transit system have said getting more people to adopt it will take a shift in attitude. Wichtia native Peter Roenne became sold on public transit when he lived in Portland, Ore. He hopes it one day becomes as convenient here.

"Since I was born and raised here, I was kind of raised with this thought of, 'I kind of have to have a car to get around this city,'" Roenne said. "And it's kind of like, 'Why?'"

Others attended Wednesday evening's meeting to learn more about what the transit system will offer with two new routes to northwest Wichita and to make sure as many segments of the community as possible were represented during the input process.

"I'm here tonight just to represent the Hispanic community," said Robert Chavez, Jr. "I believe we have to have a voice and that's why I'm here tonight."

Transit Director Steve Spade said improving service will increase ridership, but it will take feedback from those using city buses -- and those who want to -- to make the system better.

"We want to develop better service throughout the community and throughout the area," Spade said. "So we welcome any input anybody's got."

Wichita commuters seeking more information about the transit system or wishing to offer input can call Wichita Transit at 352-4816 or go to the department's website, www.wichitatransit.org.

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