Wichita Transit

Amy Delamaide, flickr Creative Commons

The Wichita City Council is holding annual budget talks, and while officials have been happy to announce that the budget is balanced and few cuts have been made, the future of the city’s bus system is still undecided. 

 

City Manager Robert Layton presented the 2016-2017 proposed budget to City Council members Tuesday morning.

Amy Delamaide, flickr Creative Commons

City officials say Wichita's bus system will see a decline in service next year without added revenue. KMUW’s Sean Sandefur has more.

The future of Wichita’s operating budget was presented to city council members on Tuesday morning.

Mark Manning, budget officer with the city’s finance department, says future budgets look to be balanced, but that future revenue growth won’t be enough to fill a reduction in transit funding.

Sean Sandefur

Wichita Transit’s Free Fares Week launches next week, running Monday through Saturday. KMUW’s Abigail Wilson has more…

Free Fares Week is designed to give new transit riders the opportunity to experience the public transit system for rides to work, school, errands and recreation.

Wichita Transit provided 58,415 rides during Free Fares Week in 2014. It's estimated that nearly 304,000 private vehicle miles were avoided and more than 400 pounds of ozone forming emissions were kept out of the air.

Sean Sandefur

New mayor Jeff Longwell is getting to work on some of the city's problems and, on Thursday, he was talking transit. KMUW's Aileen LeBlanc reports.

Beginning Monday, Wichita Transit's East 17th Street route will run through the Wichita State University main campus instead of around it.

Wichita Transit buses will use existing WSU Shuttle System bus shelters to provide two inbound and two outbound stops on campus.

Currently, the 17th Street route offers only one stop serving WSU, on the south edge of campus. That stop will be discontinued.

Sean Sandefur

Wichita City Council members approved the purchase of new city buses at Tuesday’s meeting. They will help update the transit system’s aging fleet. 

A total of ten new buses will be coming from a California-based manufacturer. They will all be diesel powered. 

“The total cost for the acquisition is $4.2 million and a little over 80 percent of that will come from the Federal Transit Administration," Wichita City Manager Robert Layton says. "The rest will be local.”

Sean Sandefur

Members of Wichita’s City Council spent much of yesterday discussing a new sales tax that could be used to shore up the city’s water supply,  encourage job growth and keep the transit system running for five more years. 

 

Tuesday’s meeting marked the first step in funding some key areas of Wichita’s future. A proposed one-cent sales tax referendum, worth $398 million over five years, was approved by council members. 

Sean Sandefur

The below story originally aired May 16, 2014

The city of Wichita’s public transportation provides about 2 million rides a year; rides that can lead to jobs, to an education or to medical appointments. But the city’s budget is strained and the future funding of transit is far from clear.

  

A Need For Transportation

Wichita officials ushered four new transit buses into service Wednesday.

Mayor Carl Brewer and Wichita Transit Director Steve Spade joined city council members and others for the "inaugural ride."

City council members approved a plan Tuesday to purchase as many as 20 buses in the next two years to upgrade the aging fleet of 56 buses. The transit center's fleet travels nearly 2 million miles annually, and it's one of the oldest in the region.

Amy Delamaide / Flickr

Amid budget problems, fare increases and services cuts, Wichita Transit welcomed a new director last month. Stephen Spade was most recently transit director in Chapel Hill, N.C. He also served as general manager for the transit service in Des Moines, Iowa.

Spade started work in Wichita on October 30, he says he was interested in the Wichita job because he and his wife are from the Midwest and wanted to be closer to family.

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