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Medical school, health institute to study Wichita bus system

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012, at 6:46 a.m.

The University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita is partnering with the Kansas Health Institute, a nonprofit health policy and research organization, to assess proposed changes to Wichita’s transit system, the KHI announced in a news release Wednesday.

The report on the city’s bus system should be completed by June 1, before the Wichita City Council votes on the future of the transit system, officials said.

“The assessment is meant to be used, not just a report on a shelf. We want to engage the public and decision makers,” said Dr. Elizabeth Ablah, associate professor at KU’s Wichita campus.

The assessment will outline how four different proposals would affect Wichita residents’ health and will look at other factors, including economic activity, air quality, noise, community resources and preventable hospitalization, according to the news release.

“For the elderly who are no longer able to drive, it affects their quality of life. Many of us often associate automobiles with independence,” Ablah said. “In the Midwest, we usually have relatively poor public transportation. We’re working on getting folks to think differently and see this through the eyes of health.”

KHI and KU officials held meetings this week with stakeholders and city leaders about the assessment, its goals and to listen to concerns, said Tatiana Lin, senior analyst and strategy team leader for KHI.The city council did not commission the study, Lin said.

Ivan Williams, senior analyst at KHI, said they will also be working with Wichita State University to conduct an economic report to analyze the cost and benefits of the different proposals.

The assessment is funded by a grant from the Health Impact Project, which is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Kansas Health Foundation.

For additional information, contact Ablah at 316-293-2627.

Reach Kelsey Ryan at 316-269-6752 or kryan@wichitaeagle.com.

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