Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Mass transit - Bob Strawn

Should the economic development portion of the half-cent sales tax be used to off-set the cost of the Metropolitan Planning Organization?

This is an argument that should come from the budget debate. Certainly economic development tax revenues could be a source to fund this federal mandate that deals primarily with transportation.

Should the city help fund a fixed-route bus system in Manhattan?

No. Not until the fixed route system presents a viable business plan with components that include major contributions from the university and its student body. Ames, IA’s system would be a good model to follow, where ~70% of the local contribution comes from the Iowa State University student body and the university itself. If we could establish that kind of support from the Kansas State University, then I would support the city making a contribution to a fixed route system – but not until. The city should continue to support on-demand service as it does presently.

Should the city increase, decrease or maintain the efforts to facilitate bicyclists’ use of city streets as a mode of transportation?

Increase if practical. The city should be in the business of promoting good health. This is an excellent method to do that providing the budget allows.

Should the city devote more funding to develop walking and bicycle paths around the city?

Providing the budget allows, yes. But this is a matter of priorities. Paths vs. firefighters? No thanks. Paths vs. ATA fixed route? Yes.

Should the city spend $11 million (or more) on expanding the airport and airport services?

Without question, the airport is an economic driver for Manhattan. But this is not an easily answered question from my knowledge base. The terminal needs updating. We need more parking. But parking should be fee based, not free. American Airlines should be doing its own advertising, not taxpayers on AA’s behalf. The FAA has to make the major contribution to any expansion. What is it? Are more flights to new destinations probable? So, the question is difficult for me to answer directly. Generally, I’m a strong supporter of the airport and would look for ways to make investments that have a reasonable payout to the city. I came here from the aviation industry and was mayor when AA committed to MHK.

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