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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

KU basketball shuttle bus no longer free and you still have to walk a little

Construction around Allen Fieldhouse has prompted other changes to game-day parking

Fans file through the doors of Allen Fieldhouse past the statue of Phog Allen in this file photo from Monday, Oct. 27, 2014.

Fans file through the doors of Allen Fieldhouse past the statue of Phog Allen in this file photo from Monday, Oct. 27, 2014.

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A lot of University of Kansas men's basketball fans are walking a little farther and paying a little more to reach Allen Fieldhouse this season.

Ongoing construction around the Fieldhouse and increasing demand for parking have prompted some changes to parking and shuttle service.

Basketball fans would have seen the changes for the first time Tuesday night, the Jayhawks’ first home game of the year. The next home men’s basketball game is 7 p.m. Sunday against Emporia State University.

For one, the shuttle bus from park-and-ride lots to Allen Fieldhouse is no longer free. This year it costs $3 roundtrip per person to ride the bus, which picks people up from free parking in Lot 301, on West Campus by the Shenk Recreational Sports Complex.

Donna Hultine, director of KU Parking and Transit, called it a “break-even” charge to help cover the cost of an increased number of buses needed to meet demand.

“It’s so popular, but every year we have to have more and more buses,” she said.

Unlike football games (to which shuttle buses are still free) the buses between the park and ride lot and Allen Fieldhouse can’t simply loop, Hultine said, because when basketball games let out, police divert traffic around the Fieldhouse so vehicles can get out but can’t get back in — and that includes buses. So there have to be enough shuttle buses at the ready to pick up everyone at the end of the game, she said.

Construction in KU’s Central District is further complicating things, she said.

Shuttle buses used to drive from West Campus down Irving Hill Road to Naismith Drive, dropping off riders right at Allen Fieldhouse Drive, she said.

With Irving Hill Road closed for construction until next summer, buses have to take a different route and drop people off a couple blocks farther away, Hultine said. They come in on 19th Street, drive through the newly constructed Central District traffic circle — only buses are allowed through right now — and drop off at 18th Street and Naismith Drive.

There is a more accessible option for fans who need it.

A lift bus, also $3 per rider, picks up fans from lots 301 and 302 and delivers them to Lot 71, on the south side of the Fieldhouse.

A parking supervisor on duty at Becker Drive, where shuttle buses pick up, can call for the lift van for anyone who needs it, Hultine said. Fans don’t need handicap placards to ride the lift van, but they do need them to park in handicap spaces in lots 301 and 302, which are free but first-come first-served.

Some Williams Fund contributors who have paid for parking passes along with their basketball tickets will find themselves walking farther due to construction, too, Hultine said.

She said 267 fans with parking passes for designated lots have been relocated this season. Lots near Jayhawker Towers, Hilltop Child Development Center and the old Burge Union aren’t available, so those users were moved to lots by the Watkins Health Center, Price Computing Center and the engineering complex.

“I don’t know how well that’s gone over,” Hultine said, the morning after KU’s first home game. “It’s moving some probably high-level donors farther away.”

There’s not really any alternative, at least for this season, she said. But well before next basketball season, the new parking garage in the Central District should be complete and able to accommodate 600 vehicles.

For more KU event parking information, and a campus parking lot map, go online to parking.ku.edu.

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