ATA Bus to launch fixed routes

By Burk Krohe

The director of the Flint Hills Area Transportation Agency (ATA Bus) told county commissioners Monday that her agency will begin operating two fixed routes April 23.

Anne Smith said one route will run on the north side of the city, running east to west, while the second route will run on the south side of the city, also running east to west. The two routes will converge at the Kanasas State campus. Smith said more detailed maps will be available soon.  They will run in addition to its current on-demand services Monday through Friday.

“Under no circumstances should anyone think services will be diminished,” Smith said.

She characterized it as an expansion of a needed service.

The announcement comes after the Manhattan City Commission struck down a proposal for a fixed-route system last June. The new system will not rely on any funding from the city, whereas the previous plan would have called for $15,000 in funding from the city for the first full year of operation.

Last year, a majority of city commissioners, felt a public transit system would not be sustainable and worried it would lead to a necessity for larger and larger contributions from the city. However, county commissioners have continually supported ATA Bus’ efforts.

“It’s been a long time coming, and we’re very excited,” Smith said.

Tag processing hitch

Riley County residents who have tag and license renewals coming up might want to take care of them now.

At Monday’s County Commission meeting, county treasurer Eileen King said her office will not process any motor vehicle or driver’s license transactions from May 1 to May 6. The office will be open for tax payments.

The treasurer’s office closure is due to a statewide switch to a new system that will replace aging mainframe systems used for driver licensing, motor vehicle titling and registration and inventory management. The idea is to streamline record keeping and eliminate some manual procedures and paperwork. It will also make it easier for outside entities such as the Kansas Department of Revenue and law enforcement agencies to obtain more accurate, up-to-date information quickly.

King said May 8 is the first possible day to do face-to-face transactions for customers; May 7 will be mail-in renewals only. She said her office has been training on the new system, one of the few counties in the state to do so.

“We do anticipate problems,” King said. “My pledge to the county is we’re going to be as prepared as possible.”

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