​Travel tips for those using fixed-route Wichita Transit buses

Michael Byington, MA, COMS, certified orientation and mobility specialist - Apr 28, 2016

Tags: Buses    Public    Transit    Transportation   
Changes to the Wichita Transit bus schedules and routes went into effect on March 26. While I cannot explain everything that has changed in this blog post, I am providing a few travel tips for Envision employees who use the bus system.

The bus route that services Envision’s Water St. facility is now referred to as Route #26. This route originates from the downtown Transit Center at 214 S Topeka. A map of the route and a list of places along the route can be found at http://www.wichitatransit.org/Routes/Pages/26.aspx

What you should know about Route #26: 
  • Instead of traveling on Main and Market streets as the previous route did, Route #26 travels both directions on Broadway between the Envision’s Water St. facility and downtown. 
  • Route #26 goes east to Hydraulic after it leaves Envision on its way to the Dillons at 47th and Broadway, the outbound end of the route. The route no longer goes to Plainview and locations further southeast.
  • The new Route #26 runs every half hour during morning and afternoon peak hours; it only runs once per hour during the midpoints of the day. The old South Main route used to run every half hour all day.  This is a reduction of service.
The closest bus route to the Envision Main St. facility is Route #17. A map of the route and a list of places along the route can be found at http://www.wichitatransit.org/Routes/Pages/17.aspx. Here’s what you should know about this route: 
  • The Route #17 bus leaves the downtown Transit Center, turns north on Broadway and heads toward Central. It turns left at Central, going west until it reaches Central and Main.  This is the same pick-up/drop-off point that was used by the old Riverside route. 
  • Riders exit the bus on Central. Some drivers will drop off passengers on the east side of Main, before the bus crosses this street; others insist on dropping passengers off west of Main, about halfway between Main and Water.  
  • If you are going to the Envision Main St. facility and are dropped off west of Main, follow these directions: 
    • Turn right when you exit the bus
    • Walk up to Main
    • Cross Main and then turn left 
    • Walk north on Main to get to the Envision building
  • The traffic signal at Central and Main has accessible features, including locater tones for the push to walk buttons. You will also pass an accessible mid-block crosswalk in front of the courthouses. This signal also includes a locater tone. If you prefer, you could cross Main at that point. 
  • Route #17 bus picks up passengers going downtown to the Transit Center on the southwest corner of Main and Central, just as the old Riverside route used to do. Previously, riders boarded on the Main Street side of this corner. The #17 bus picks up on Central.
Downtown Transit Center
At the Downtown Transit Center, the bays for the various numbered routes are marked with yellow on blue large-print signs that are pretty accessible. The signs for the new routes are in the same position as the old bay number signs. It is my understanding that Braille signage will be added.  I do not know when they will be installed.

Previously, it was hard to use the signs at the Transit Center to figure out where buses were going to pull up. This was because the buses on the east-west concourse pulled up to the right of their identifying signs; buses on the north-south concourse pulled up to the left of their identifying signs.   

The Kansas Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind filed a complaint about this a couple of years ago, suggesting that the sign placement should be consistent. Envision submitted a plan suggesting how the inconsistent signage could be changed. Now, changes similar to those suggested by Envision have been made. All buses pull up to the left of the sign that designates their number.  That information, however, may not be helpful to everyone until Braille is added.  

Picking up passengers
Buses used to pick up passengers at any corner. The policy now is that drivers will only pick up passengers at a designated “bus stops” that include colorful signage.

Envision has spoken with Transit officials to make them aware that blind travelers and many with low vision cannot see where the bus stop signs are located. Wichita Transit has agreed to make an exception and pick up travelers who are blind at any corner where it is possible for the bus to stop, provided that the bus rider has either a dog guide or a white cane in plain sight.  

People with low vision who do not carry a white cane or use a dog guide may want to consider carrying a white cane if they are unable to recognize bus stop signs. Individuals with special-order canes that aren’t white should be aware that buses may not stop for them.   

Getting off the bus
When you pull the cord to get off the bus, the driver will stop only at designated bus stops unless you make it clear that you need to stop at a certain corner because that is the only route you know to take to  your final destination.  If drivers forget they are supposed to make this accommodation for you, remind them that it is required under the ADA. Be polite but firm about it. Be sure to notify them in plenty of time. 

Bus fares
Mark Benson in the Envision Human Resources Department is a resource for information about bus fares. Some passes are available for purchase at the front desk of the Envision Water St. facility. 
Please be aware that if you are paying a fare per trip, exact change is now required. Drivers no longer will make change or issue change cards. Also, transfers are no longer issued. You must pay for each trip.  That will make your costs higher if you ride and transfer a lot. In such instances, you may want to consider purchasing the weekly  or monthly pass as an option to save money overall.      

Questions
If you are using fixed route buses and are having issues with the new routes and rules, feel free to give me a call, and I will try to be of assistance.  My office number is 316-440-1665 and my cell is 785-221-7111.