Topekans in Support of Public Transit

On the March 24 Board Meeting Topekans in Support of Public Transit visited and asked for support. They have asked their petition be posted on our website. Those moved to do so are asked to sign the petition and return it to the City for evaluation. The petition is as follows:

Topekans in Support of Public Transit

Resolution in support of public transit services; opposing reductions to services

We, the undersigned, advocate the following:

Whereas Topeka is unique in being one of the smallest cities in the nation to have a fixed route, mainline public transit service and

Whereas public transit services are good for the economy, good for economic development, good for employment and good for the environment and

Whereas most recently during the economic crisis, more people relied on public transit services and ridership increased significantly

Whereas many people rely on public transit services to get to work, school, church, recreation, medical care, etc. and

Whereas people with disabilities, senior citizens, poor people and other minorities, in particular, rely on public transit, are known as “captive riders”, and will suffer a disparate impact resultant from reduction or elimination of public transit services and

Whereas fuel will certainly become scarcer and more expensive over time necessitating increased utilization of public transit

Whereas environmental degradation and the need to lessen the “carbon footprint” will necessitate increased utilization of public transit and

Whereas Topeka Metropolitan Transit Authority has been given a special franchise under color of state and local law to operate Topeka’s public transit services as a monopoly and

Whereas the special franchise creates a quasi-governmental entity with authority to condemn and acquire property, sell bonds and certificates and to receive a special mill levy and

Whereas the special franchise also creates certain  obligations and duties including the duty to “as promptly as possible, to rehabilitate, reconstruct and modernize all portions of any transportation…and to maintain at all times an adequate and modern transportation system…and for safe, comfortable and convenient service .” and

Whereas planned public transit services reductions are in contravention to these duties outlined in state and municipal law and

Whereas the public and its diverse communities of affected individuals have been afforded neither the knowledge, nor the opportunity to provide input into any proposed reductions in public transit services and

Whereas less drastic alterations to public transit services such as route and time changes have already caused significant hardship to some individuals especially given the method and short timeframe used to enact the alterations and

Whereas there appears to have been insufficient community outreach to, and involvement in, the decision to reduce services and

Whereas the disability advisory committee was not afforded any opportunity to provide input into any of the proposed service reductions and

Whereas conflicting and contrary statements were made to advisory committee members as to the type and scope of any reductions or alterations to services and

Whereas advance planning, budgeting and financing aimed at mitigating or forestalling any service reductions do not appear to have been undertaken and

Whereas Topeka does not have a long range plan or vision for the future of public transit

Whereas planned reductions in public transit services will hurt many people in our community and will hurt the corporate community, itself and

Now therefore be it resolved:

That any reductions or alterations to public transit services including evening Saturday, Sunday, fixed route and paratransit services, be postponed until comprehensive community outreach and input occurs and

Be it further resolved that long range planning and visioning occur forthwith and such effort must include employers, members of the City Council, drivers, riders including people with disabilities, seniors and other minorities and

Be it further resolved that the city council undertake increased oversight into the planning, financing, public relations and community outreach and community involvement activities of the public transit authority and

Be it further resolved that public hearings be held as to any findings resultant from increased city council oversight and

Now be it resolved that a mill levy increase, or other local revenue source, be immediately provided for continuing operation of public transit services in order to forestall any reductions to services and that any alterations to services made after July 1, 2008 be restored.

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