To the Editor:
It was refreshing to read in Thursday’s Mercury that our county commissioners are championing the creation of regional transportation. This is the first significant step to a regional transportation solution for the Manhattan metropolitan area.
Unfortunately, transportation issues in medium-sized cities such as ours are really easy to overlook.
For most of us, getting to and from work, school and the businesses we choose to patronize is as easy as hopping in our cars and following our well-maintained road network wherever we’d like to go. It is easy to forget that there is a very sizable population who either cannot drive or who choose not to.
These people are students with money to spend but don’t have access to our area businesses and services. They are soldiers stationed at Fort Riley who often don’t have access to a car to patronize Manhattan’s growing retail scene. They are hardworking men and women who can’t afford the capital expenditure of a car to reach a potential job. All of these people are taxpayers and deserve access to good mobility, just as I have.
Good public transportation is an important community asset to be cherished and nurtured. The regional transportation board ensures that the transportation system will be designed from the ground up to be a valuable regional asset and to provide access to places that otherwise would be off-limits.
While the Flint Hills Area Transportation Agency (ATA Bus) is doing an admirable job of working within the resources it has to provide basic fixed route and para-transit bus services as our region grows, it is vitally important to build a holistic, integrated network that is open to everybody.