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New Lawrence bus routes to go into effect in January; Sunday rides to be available on demand

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The new year will bring in new Lawrence bus routes and features, including on-demand ride options on Sundays.

Beginning on Tuesday, Jan. 2, the new routes through town will go into effect, according to Lawrence Transit’s website. As Lawrence Transit makes preparations for the new routes, community members can also prepare using several resources.

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Lawrence Transit serves as the bus system for the city and the University of Kansas. City and university staff members have been working on the project since late 2020, exploring proposed route changes and discussing improvements that could benefit passengers. 

During 2023, Lawrence Transit rides were free of charge due to a one-year pilot program funded with federal stimulus dollars. Fare-free rides will continue through 2024.

Here’s a map of all the routes as they will run in January (click here to open the map in a new tab). See single-route maps at this link.

2024_system_map-r

The bus system will also implement interlined routes, which “reduce transfers and create more bi-directional service for a faster trip home. The same buses operate back and forth between two routes. Riders won’t need to get off the bus to transfer from one route to the other,” according to the website.

To be able to afford Sunday service, the city will begin using peak and off-peak frequencies, meaning “transit trips in the middle of the day on fixed-route will be less frequent, and trips during the morning and afternoon commute times will be every half hour or better across all routes,” according to the website.

Sunday on-demand service

Folks can currently access evening and overnight trips between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. Mondays through Fridays and from 8 p.m. to midnight on Saturdays with the recent addition of Lawrence Transit On Demand. The on-demand model functions like Uber and Lyft services but uses transit vehicles and drivers.

Starting in 2024, anyone can use the smartphone app or call to request a free trip to and from any location within Lawrence city limits.

Sunday on-demand services will operate from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday on-demand service will also be extended, to run from 8 p.m. through 6 a.m.

Lawrence Transit On Demand, the app to book rides, is available on Google Play and the App Store.

Riders can also currently call 785-312-7054 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday to schedule rides ahead of time. People will be able to call a phone number during on-demand hours to request rides starting in January.

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Central Station to open

Lawrence Transit’s new Central Station, located just west of Bob Billings Parkway and Iowa Street near the KU campus, will help the new routes run smoothly, the webpage says. The station is set to open the same day route changes go into effect — Tuesday, Jan. 2.

Coming up in mid-December, staff members will be stationed at the downtown Lawrence bus stop on Vermont Street across from the Lawrence Public Library to continue engaging with the community and start planning for a downtown station.

Seven local routes and two regional routes will serve Central Station, and five routes will continue to serve downtown Lawrence, according to the website.

Resources for planning trips

Riders can receive training with Lawrence Transit to learn how to use the bus system. Information about training for individuals, groups and organizations can be found online at lawrencetransit.org/travel-training/ or by emailing info@lawrenceks.org with inquiries.

An app called Transit is now the city’s preferred mobile app for traveling. It features a preview of 2024 route changes, and riders can use it to view real-time bus arrival information. Transit can be downloaded in the Apple App Store or on Google Play

More information on mobile tools can be found online at lawrencetransit.org/mobile-tools.

For further help planning a bus trip or for questions, call Lawrence Transit customer service at 785-864-4644.

Visit the city’s route redesign webpage, lawrencetransit.org/projects/route-redesign/, to see route maps and learn more about the redesign project and process.

Follow Lawrence Transit on Facebook, at Lawrence Transit, and on Twitter, at @TransitLawrence, to stay updated.

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Note: A time in this post has been updated after transit staff noticed an error on their website.

Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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