Fayette County

Lextran proposal to trim bus routes draws criticism from Masterson Station residents

Lextran driver Russ Schultz returned to his bus after taking a break at the end of Route 20 on Wednesday. The route serves the Masterson Station neighborhood but might be cut Lextran.
Lextran driver Russ Schultz returned to his bus after taking a break at the end of Route 20 on Wednesday. The route serves the Masterson Station neighborhood but might be cut Lextran. Herald-Leader

Lextran's plan to eliminate several bus routes while improving Sunday service has drawn some criticism, particularly from those living in Masterson Station.

Some residents of the northwest Lexington neighborhood have said Lextran is their only way to and from work and school, and they worry about how they will get there if Route 20 is cut.

"A lot of people are going to lose their jobs, and I'm probably going to be one of them," said Karen Garr, who lives in the back of the subdivision.

Lextran General Manager Carrie Butler said Tuesday, at one of the last in a series of public meetings on the changes, that she knows there will be people who are seriously affected, but that the demand for Lextran's services is much greater than the agency is able to provide.

"We have to save where we can and operate effectively with the resources that we have," she said.

The public's last chance to provide feedback on the changes — and the only opportunity to speak directly to the Lextran board of directors — is at the board's meeting Oct. 21.

The board is expected to hear an overview of the public feedback and vote on the proposal. If approved, the changes would take effect in January.

More than 20 residents of Masterson Station turned out at a public meeting in their neighborhood Monday, and on Tuesday, 3rd District Councilman Jake Gibbs hosted a public forum on the changes at the Bell House. A handful of people attended that meeting, which focused on the plan to eliminate the downtown trolley routes, which do not charge a fare.

"If it was utilized as much as it was loved, we would be having a different conversation," Butler told that group.

Lextran officials say the routes they want to cut have the lowest ridership in the system but cost just as much to operate.

Downtown's green trolley route, for example, costs Lextran $20.18 per rider per month to operate and represents 0.1 percent of the system's ridership, an average of 343 people a month.

Lextran says the Masterson Station route represents 0.37 percent of ridership, or 1,265 passengers, and costs Lextran an average of $11.14 per passenger per month.

One of those passengers is Garr, who puts her granddaughter on the school bus at 6:35 a.m. every day.

She said she has to walk fast to cover seven blocks to get on the Lextran bus at 6:45 a.m.

She has to be at her job downtown at Xerox by 9 a.m. Garr said she is usually there at about 8 a.m., but she can't take a later bus because it would make her late.

"This one is very convenient to me," she said of the route.

She wonders how she will get to work if it no longer exists: "This is my only means of transportation."

Second District Councilwoman Shevawn Akers said there are a number of people like Garr who live near the back of Masterson Station who would have a hard time getting to the Leestown Road bus.

"It's going to cut off a whole lot of people on this side of town," she said. "Everybody in the back half or more (of Masterson Station) would have to walk really far to get to the bus."

Akers said several suggestions were offered during a public meeting Monday night, but "they don't seem to want to figure out how to make it work."

"That just really is not good. I'm not happy at all with that sort of approach," she said.

Lextran officials said they are open to suggestions and to adjusting routes as they are able.

In addition to cutting the trolleys and the Masterson Station route, Lextran is considering eliminating several other routes and changing some stops and roads other routes take.

Bi-directional service would be added to routes 1 through 13 on Sundays, which would mimic the service offered on Saturdays and cut down on travel time. Service on Route 15, which serves the Red Mile area, would be extended until 10 p.m.