West Wichitans will get a look at the future of bus service starting April 12: targeted bus routes, with feeder vans connecting unserved areas with those key routes.
On Friday, Wichita Transit officials unveiled two new west-side bus routes – the West Maple route and the West Central route, both running from about 5:45 a.m. to 7:45 p.m. Both routes lead to NewMarket Square at 21st and Maize.
A west-side feeder will allow residents not directly served on the routes to schedule rides around town or connect with the new bus routes. The west-side service covers the area from I-235 west to Maize Road, and from Kellogg north to 21st Street, including the airport.
Route fares will be $1.75 for adults, $2 for adult transfers.
It’s the latest move by transit director Steve Spade to bring routes closer to high-traffic areas while maintaining service elsewhere. Since the changes are essentially route replacements, the changes should not raise west-side service costs.
“We’re putting in place a system to allow us to accommodate people who have lost service,” Spade said.
The feeder van will be available by reservation for people who need it to get to work daily or to get to a single doctor visit. The feeder van will cost $1 per trip; if the rider has a weekly or monthly pass, it will cover the van.
“This is another way to provide good public transportation without running a big old bus,” Spade said.
Transit officials also are gathering data about how suburban Wichita cities would use a feeder service. That information will be important if and when the transit system expands outside Wichita’s city limits into the region.
Officials unveiled the results of their first suburban service survey, in Maize.
In January, 1,200 Maize water customers got bus surveys in their water bills. Only 96 were returned, a rate of 8 percent.
Survey respondents said they have a need for work rides into the downtown Wichita core and for rides to shop at NewMarket Square, where officials have agreed to door-front bus service at the shops.
Transit associate planner Phillip Zevenbergen called the returns “the beginning of the conversation in Maize.”
Transit officials are surveying Haysville residents, with other surveys planned in suburbs like Derby, Valley Center, Park City and Andover.
“We’re not starting service there in the next couple of months,” Spade said. But if and when the transit system’s finances stabilize, the surveys will provide valuable information about the services each city would use, he said.