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June 16, 2008

Kansas needs public transit

Recently The Star reported that Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson of Kansas said regarding the future of public transit: “There hasn’t been the numbers of riders to allocate resources to support it. Until ridership levels on mass transit make that important in Johnson County, the political motivation won’t be there” (6/3, Business, “A new transit policy? No, more of the same”).

Kansas experienced more than 10 million transit rides in 2007. In light of rising fuel costs, that number is increasing as citizens seek viable transportation options besides the single-occupancy vehicle.

In Johnson County, service increased by 30,000 rides in 2007 over 2006. Through May, Johnson County ridership is up 44,000 rides over the same period last year. The JO is on track for another 100,000-ride increase. K-10 corridor service to Lawrence (a cooperative state-local program) carried 68,000 rides in 2007, its first year of service.

More resources must be allocated to public transportation throughout Kansas — more buses, more funds for operations and priority traffic lanes — to increase its availability. Greater availability means less congestion.

As more attention is paid to public transportation, our elected officials will be reporting that transit is an important element of economic development in Kansas.

R.E. “Tuck” Duncan
Executive director, Kansas Public Transit Association
Topeka

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