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December 30, 2013

Wichita transit officials working on bus needs survey for Maize

Wichita transit officials are developing a bus needs survey for Maize residents.

Wichita transit officials are developing a bus needs survey for Maize residents.

The survey is the first step toward the possible extension of bus service to the suburb northwest of Wichita, transit director Steve Spade said. And it could be used for other nearby cities as Wichita weighs the possible expansion of bus service, he added.

Maize’s interest surfaced at a recent Wichita Area Metropolitan Planning Organization meeting, when Mayor Clair Donnelly expressed interest in the survey, city administrator Richard LaMunyon said.

“More of a case of not wanting to be late to the party,” LaMunyon said. “We think there might be a need. We’re interested in finding out what it might be.”

With Maize residents who work or attend school in Wichita, and with a bus route just down Maize Road at NewMarket Square, city officials want to find out if transit is viable in Maize, LaMunyon said.

“Will the fares pay for it? Probably not,” LaMunyon said. “Will the city of Maize have to participate? We’re going to have to see how it works out.”

The transit needs surveys will go out to Maize residents early next year in utility bills, LaMunyon said.

Regional express and bus service to all outlying communities, at an estimated annual cost of $1.4 million, is one of the planks of an expanded bus system proposed to the Wichita City Council last month.

The expanded system, at roughly $26 million or double the current budget, would also tie bus services more directly to where users live, work and seek services.

The transit program, bolstered by loans from City Hall, is expected to become insolvent in 2015 without a dedicated funding source. Some council members say transit should be a part of a broader vote on a sales tax increase.

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