Lawrence City Commission to consider plan for downtown bus station site selection

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Lawrence city commissioners on Tuesday will hear an update on transit staff members’ process to pick a spot for a downtown bus station and vote on a draft resolution to create a steering committee.

With many major changes to Lawrence’s public transportation system coming to fruition and going into effect Tuesday, staff members are turning their attention to the downtown bus station project. 

Although the Central Station opens Tuesday at Bob Billings Parkway and Crestline Drive, five routes still serve downtown. Buses averaged more than 560 daily boardings at Seventh and Vermont streets in 2023, according to information in the meeting agenda. 

Transit staff members have identified the need for driver restrooms, individual bus bays, sufficient seating, weather and wind protection, and next departure signs as key elements for a downtown station. They also want to engage the community to find the right site. 

A presentation in the meeting agenda outlines the process staff members have envisioned. They will start by establishing a steering committee and defining the downtown boundary and site selection criteria. Then they’ll identify and solicit all possible sites within the determined boundary and evaluate those sites with the criteria they established, according to the agenda. 

Finally, they will rank all the sites and present them to the Lawrence City Commission for consideration. They’ll ask commissioners to pick the top three to five sites for concept designs, and then whittle that down to one location. 

After some transit updates have seen delays in recent years, staff members have set a relatively quick timeline to move forward in this process. 

They anticipate appointing the steering committee this month. From there, they plan on engaging with the community, evaluating and ranking sites to present to the city commission by the third or fourth quarter of 2024, and beginning concept designs to present to the city commission in early 2025. 

The proposed committee makeup includes representatives of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Lawrence Inc., the Lawrence Public Library, Senior Resource Center for Douglas County, Public Transit Advisory Committee and the Lawrence Association of Neighborhoods; a First Transit bus driver; a bus rider; a downtown resident; a downtown employee; and a member of the general public. 

The presentation notes other voices to include, such as advisers on sustainability and equity; representatives of the University of Kansas, Haskell Indian Nations University and Lawrence Public Schools, and more. 

Staff members are asking the Lawrence City Commission for feedback and to approve a resolution to create the steering committee, which would be dissolved after they reach the step of concept designs for the top three to five sites. 

Commissioners will meet at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 2 at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St. See the full agenda at this link.

Meetings are open to the public and livestreamed on the city’s YouTube channel,

People may submit written public comment to commissioners until noon the day of the meeting by emailing People may also give public comment during meetings in person or via Zoom; register for Tuesday’s Zoom meeting at this link.

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Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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