Archive for Thursday, May 12, 2005

Transit study timely as forces point to change

May 12, 2005

Lawrence Transit, Johnson County Transit and the Kansas Department of Transportation will commission a study late this summer to look at the possibility of bus service between Johnson County and Lawrence along the Kansas Highway 10 corridor. The study will review such things as ridership numbers, type of service and routes. Should the study come back positive, service could start in two years.

Although reluctant to comment on what service would be available, officials concede Eudora is an obvious stop.

Despite our love of the independence offered by the automobile, we are in an era when forces are demanding a basic change in our transportation preferences. We have received a less-than-subtle hint of this at the gas pump for the past three months. Although gas prices seem to be heading down in the short term, the trend that started early last summer and surfaced again in recent months is our future. Sometime soon, world oil production is expected to start its long-predicted decline just as development in China, India and other Third World countries increase demand.

It is also unreasonable to expect the state to add more and more lanes to a freeway to keep up with demand at a cost greatly exceeding that of transit systems. Yes, the transit system will have to be subsidized, perhaps for a long time. But again that could well be an acceptable trade off when a mile of freeway costs $2 million to build and needs more maintenance as more and more vehicles add to its daily load.

Perhaps most worrisome is that the cost of not weaning ourselves from the thirst of oil could become constant conflict in areas we would otherwise know only as distant place names.

As a nation, we have been blatantly disdainful of these forces. But it is good that some planners have the foresight to explore possible solutions before their need is urgent.

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