With $20 million on hand from the sale of the Hyatt Regency Wichita hotel, the City Council voted Tuesday to put $10 million into fixing neighborhood streets and $4 million into public transit.
The funding boost for streets will be enough to fix the worn-out concrete streets in the city and about 41 percent of asphalt streets that have reached the end of their service life, said Alan King, Wichita’s director of public works.
The transit funding will be used to re-plan the system with an eye toward sustainability through the future. The street improvement program is straightforward: Workers will repair identified structural problems on the streets and overlay them with new sealcoat from curb to curb.
That, King said, will make them look like new streets. The work on side streets will be in addition to the city’s regular repair and maintenance of arterial streets, King added.
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The transit money will be used to develop and launch new programs to supplement the existing service that is mostly large-bus and fixed route, said Steve Spade, the city’s transit director.
We don’t have the money to introduce (new services); we’ve barely got enough money to run what we’ve got.
Steve Spade, Wichita transit director
Among the ideas that will be examined will be “feeder” routes using small buses to get people in neighborhoods to fixed-route stops where they can board for longer trips, Spade said.
The transit system also could consider a voucher system so people who work weekends and night shifts can use public transit more effectively to get to and from work.
For example, instead of running buses until midnight or later, the transit system could provide vouchers so workers could ride the bus to work and use a voucher on a private taxi or ride-hailing system to get home after the buses stop running for the day.
The transit system needs the extra money to be able to plan and launch any new services, Spade said.
The current transit budget is only enough to fund existing services, and without the money from the Hyatt sale, it wouldn’t be possible to launch alternatives that could transport more people for approximately what the city is paying now.
“We don’t have the money to introduce (new services); we’ve barely got enough money to run what we’ve got,” Spade said.