Community Reacts To Transit Cuts

Wichita City officials took public comments Monday on the most recent round of proposed cuts to the city’s bus services.

Under consideration is reducing stops during peak times from every half hour to every hour, eliminating twice daily service to the Goodwill at 37th and Oliver, and eliminating the west side connector, which includes service to Mid Continent Airport.

It has been less than a year since the last proposal to cut transit services in Wichita; last June community members met in City Hall and asked for a fare increase rather than elimination of Saturday services.

That meeting resulted in a 50-cent increase, but unexpectedly resulted in a decline in ridership.

Wichita Transit Director Mike Vinson says at this point Wichita Transit is facing a $540,000 shortfall

“We can’t go into a negative deficit funding,” Vinson said. “I mean, we have public laws or state laws, or cash basis laws that say that we have to make budget. So it’s nothing that we really have a choice about. Without the implementation of these proposals we would not be able to make budget.”

Carmen Baker is an employee at Northwest high school and has been riding the west side connector for almost 30 years. Baker said she will be devastated if the proposals are approved, because she cannot drive.

“I am here thinking I don’t know what I will do because the West Maple so far goes to Wilbur and I will have a good walk, like two miles, to go to Northwest high school,” said Baker. “So it will be impossible for me to have a job because I haven’t got any more transportation.”

Attendees gave a variety of alternatives to the proposed cuts, including extending the Maple bus route, using a smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicle on the west side connector and increasing the sales tax.

The proposed changes will be taken up by the City Council on May 15. If approved, they will take effect June 9.