Lawrence Transit’s Central Station opens, route changes go into effect

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Lawrence Transit embarked on a new era Tuesday with the opening of Central Station, plus route changes going into effect.

Adam Weigel, transit and parking manager, checked in Wednesday about the first day of the changes. Overall, the changes went fairly smoothly, he said.

Transit staff members were out talking with riders and drivers downtown and at Central Station, Weigel said.

“Generally, service was operating pretty well, naturally encountering a few bumps on the first day of major change. We were helping riders navigate new routes and transfers that were unfamiliar, and learning about some crosstown trips that we’ll have to think more about for August changes,” he said via email. “Peak service is new, so there will be a little learning curve to service being less frequent during the midday hours, then ramping back up in the afternoon.”

August Rudisell/Lawrence Times

The new app that includes info on bus routes, Transit, was “encountering some difficulties,” but those have been worked out and the app is showing real-time information for all buses again, Weigel said. The app is available on the Apple App Store or Google Play.

“The technology issues were difficult and led to more manual trip planning on day 1 than we hoped, but our team has been engaged in talking riders through these changes for a couple years. Inevitably, we hear about some new crosstown trip types we hadn’t considered, and we’ll need to look at those more closely to see what we can change in August,” he said. “Making the timing work just right for seamless transfers both at Central Station and Downtown adds complexity, but we’ll keep working to make that smoother.”

Service was smooth at Central Station, Weigel said, and “riders found the platform and building added comfort to their commute. On such a cold day, people were using the heaters on the platform between shorter bus transfers and coming inside for longer layovers.”

Some riders walked to the station from nearby housing, which transit staff expected, and they think they’ll see more of that when KU and Haskell classes start up again later this month. “Both universities have direct access to and from Central Station,” he said.

August Rudisell/Lawrence Times

The station’s hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays, and it’s at Bob Billings Parkway and Crestline Drive.

Staff members plan to keep up in-person outreach this week to help people find new routines that work for them, Weigel said. The staff members are there to help, and Weigel would encourage people to ask any questions that come up.

“Riders and drivers alike can face stress of change like this, so our staff tried to be out and talking directly with people as much as possible to smooth out that experience and reduce the need for people to call customer service,” he said.

Sunday service will roll out on Jan. 7, when on-demand transit will be available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. And on Tuesday, Lawrence city commissioners approved the makeup of a steering committee that will guide the selection of a site for a downtown bus station.

Lawrence Transit will operate fare-free for all of 2024, supported by grants. Get answers to questions, see full route maps and more on Lawrence Transit’s website, lawrencetransit.org, or call 785-864-4644 for more help. 

August Rudisell/Lawrence Times Lawrence Transit staff members pose for a photo outside the Central Station on its first day open, Jan. 2, 2024. At center is Adam Weigel, transit and parking manager.

Give feedback

With the major route redesign now implemented, Lawrence Transit staffers plan to resume regular annual route changes that take effect each August.

The city has opened an online survey to collect feedback on the new routes, schedules, Central Station and whatever else is on riders’ minds. That’s available at lawrenceks.org/listens/surveys/, and as of Wednesday afternoon, it had received 39 responses. Staff will also conduct outreach during the spring.

“Route redesign was a big step to integrating Central Station into the system, but the ongoing work to make routes, stops, and buses function better for riders is never done,” Weigel said.

The online survey will be open until 11:59 p.m. April 1.

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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.

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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