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Study says improved bus service can improve health, economy

Study says improved bus service can improve health, economy

By George Lawson. CREATED Oct 22, 2013

Wichita city council members are looking at transit service from a different perspective as they consider what to do about providing that service in the future.    At a workshop meeting Tuesday, they heard the results of a Kansas Health Institute study on the health impact of proposed improvements to the city's bus service. 

The city is funding bus service at a stable level for 2014, but decisions will have to be made on the future of the bus system, with increasing costs and declines in federal grant funding.  

The study said improvements in bus service can affect access to health care, and it recommends that the city locate bus stops near health care offices and specialty clinics, especially those that serve children.  

The study also noted that improvements in bus service can also improve access to employment, and it recommends the city increase the frequency of bus routes and the availability of bus service at night and on weekends.    The study pointed out that this can also have a positive effect on the Wichita economy.   

The study also recommends that the Metropolitan Area Planning Department should consider locating future grocery stores near transit routes, and the city should review its "two bag" limit on city buses and perhaps increase that to as much as six bags.  

The study also found that bus riders can get more physical activity by walking to and from bus stops, and it called on the city to work with businesses and employers to provide a transit pass to workers to encourage bus ridership.  

City council member Janet Miller said there is a movement growing in the United States to consider the health impacts of policy decisions made by local government.   She said transit will be one of the biggest policy decisions that the council will make in the next year.