12 April 01

Proposed Transit System Under Discussing By City Officials

Scott Aldis-Wilson

Kansas State Collegian

The highly controversial plan for a Manhattan transit system took a final bow Tuesday night with the consultants’
final report at the Manhattan City Commission’s planning session .

Ted Rieck, associate with TranSystems Corp., presented a plan very similar to the draft brought before the
commission last January as far as routes and total cost.

The TranSystems proposal featured two year-round routes, one moving between the Northview and Candlewood
areas and the other between the Stagg Hill and Wal-Mart areas. It also recommended two other plans, a
Bramlage Park and Ride Shuttle and an Aggieville Special. The Bramlage Park and Ride Shuttle would run
between the Bramlage Coliseum parking lot and the main K-State campus on weekdays, and the Aggieville
Special would run in a roughly square pattern with Seth Child Road and the Wal-Mart area at opposite ends and
the K-State campus in the middle.

The big question with the plan is, who would bear the cost. City officials and consultants hoped Manhattan would
reach a population of 50,000 or more in the 2000 Census, guaranteeing the more than $500,000 forecasted as
state and federal funding for the project. Manhattan didn’t hit the 50,000 mark, but the transit plan’s total cost
still is an estimated $1.4 million.

Rieck said it still could be financed with more money from the K-State or city portions. Raising the student fee
from a proposed $10 a semester to $15 could make a big dent, he said.

"Certainly it would be better to get the state and federal funds than not," he said.

Director of Community Development Karen Davis also said the Manhattan area might not be left out in the cold
as far as federal funding. If census results show the area reaching a high enough density, Davis said it still could
qualify as an urbanized area entitled to some level of funding. Rieck also mentioned the possibility of receiving
earmarked federal funds, for which the Kansas Department of Transportation applied last month on Manhattan’s

Dustin Leonard, senior in anthropology, said previous efforts to install a SafeRide program in Aggieville have
failed when proposed at as little as $5 a semester. The Aggieville Special route is needed badly, he said, but he
wasn’t sure students would pay for it.

"I’m kind of wondering why students would be willing to spend $10 to $20 now," he said to the commission.

Commissioner Bruce Snead said survey results for the report suggested students might pay the higher prices,
perhaps, because this system would move them citywide, instead of just from Aggieville.

Mayor Karen McCulloh said she hopes partnerships, perhaps with the school district to share buses, still will be
considered as part of the plan to save expenses.

"I think it’s very important to keep up our partnership with K-State," she said.

Snead said having the plan on hand makes a difference, whether it is put into practice right away or not.

"At least we’re positioned to do that if the opportunity arises," he said.

Regardless, the proposed transit system faces high odds. Next Tuesday’s commission meeting will mark the
beginning of Mark Taussig and Brad Everett’s terms, replacing McCulloh and Commissioner Carol Peak. Both
commissioner-elects expressed reservations about the plan during their campaigns. Commissioners Snead, Ed
Klimek and Roger Reitz will retain their seats.