Transit Action Network regularly holds an on-line transit forum for big elections. This year we are covering the Kansas City election for Mayor and City Council. Transit Action Network does not endorse candidates. All candidates were asked to participate.
We focused on particular policy issues that concerned us the last few years. Due to the large number of candidates, we made a lot of questions YES/NO or short answer. We realize that many politicians don’t like to be pinned down, but they were given an opportunity to expand or clarify any position. They were also provided with documents we referred to in case they were not familiar with the material. We have included those documents here.
Due to the length of the forum, candidate responses are available in Links to printable files. We have alternated colors for ease of reading. Some candidates added comments to their YES or NO response, so be sure to see the comment section to see the full response.
We thank all of the candidates who participated and we look forward to working with the winners.
Please read your candidates positions and be sure to VOTE on June 23rd!
Part One: How important do you think a good transit system is to Kansas City?
Sly James, Mayor, Website: http://slyjamesformayor.com – I believe we need to tie the city together with a comprehensive transportation system including
dedicated bus lanes and an expanded streetcar line. This is critical to our economic growth as we compete with other cities that have more transportation options, which spur transit oriented development, and move people to jobs safer and faster than we do in Kansas City. Comprehensive transit is critical to our aging population and our citizens with disabilities. It’s time for us to pull ourselves up to the big table of great cities and have a serious approach to our region-wide transportation system. I’m confident that we can fix this decades old problem by working with the new leadership at KCATA to develop new and innovative solutions.
Scott Wagner, 1st At Large, Website: http://Wagner4kc.com – Good transit is a common denominator for a host of issues including employment stability, job creation, infill redevelopment and new development. It creates the opportunity to build density as the availability of transit allows for building more units of retail and housing and less need for parking lots. As I’ve also worked on homelessness and re-entry issues, transit presents an opportunity to get income challenged populations to jobs, amenities and necessities without having to further invest in cars. Transit removes barriers.
Dick Davis, 1st Dist., Website: http://dickdavis4kc.com – Critically important. Good public transit is one of the last hurdles Kansas City must conquer to become nationally and globally competitive. Public transit links workers to jobs, neighborhoods and families to shopping and services, and vacant or underutilized properties to economic development. Electrically-powered transit reduces dependency on the automobile, lessens pollution and helps create a more sustainable environment.
Jason Hodges, 2nd At large, Website: http://jay4kc.nationbuilder.com – It is imperative for the success of any city to have good transit. Transit is more than getting people to and from work, it is life style access, school access, elderly access, etc.
Dan Fowler, 2nd Dist, Website: www.danfowler4kc.com – An efficient integrated transit system is crucial to Kansas City’s progress.
Katheryn Shields, 4th At Large, Website: http://ShieldsforKC.com – A good transit system is very important to Kansas City for several reasons:
- We need to link jobs and people;
- We need to attract young people to our city;
- We need to provide affordable alternatives to the automobile to support the working poor;
- We need to take actions that help protect the environment, and reducing the need for automobiles is just one desirable action;
- We need to provide transportation alternatives for the elderly and disabled.
Jolie Justus, 4th Dist., Website: http://www.joliejustus.com – A good transit system is critical to Kansas City. I support a regional, comprehensive, multi-modal, mass transit system that includes buses, sidewalks, bike lanes, roads/bridges, fixed rail and streetcars. Based on the information available to me at this time, our top transit priorities should involve seamless, regional and reliable transportation for residents to access jobs and basic services. A special priority should be placed on the needs of low-income residents, seniors, students and the disabled. I make all of my decisions on a case-by-case basis, utilizing all available data and input from all potential stakeholders. I will not pledge or commit to supporting any specific plans or policies, but I can commit that transportation services and infrastructure are at the top of my priority list and I will take transit issues into consideration when casting a vote on any policy matter.
Dennis Anthony, 5th At Large, Website: http://Dennis4kcmo.com – Seriously?? We need major improvements to transportation including more eco friendly low emission buses.
Lee Barnes, Jr., 5th At Large, Website: http://leebarnesforkc.com – Public transportation is very important to Kansas City. It is essential because it is one of the most effective ways to move people to jobs. Businesses located near public transportation experience more employee reliability and less absenteeism and turnover. In my opinion, Kansas City’s public transportation system can be enhanced most by developing MAX bus lines along the corridors that are the most traveled such as Prospect and Independence Avenue. I also believe that we should explore the development of a regional transportation system that can move people to jobs in the outer core of the metropolitan area. A regional system can also entice residence from the outlining areas of the Metropolitan area to visit the entertainment districts within the core of the city.
Ken Bacchus, 5th Dist. Website: www.KenBacchus.com – A good transit system is very important to Kansas City as it is able to provide options for many individuals and families as they attempt to make important decisions for their livelihood on a daily basis. A good transit system provides multiple options for the users, including a planned bus system with optional day and peak systems, hopefully a dedicates rail system (Streetcar, light rail or heavy commuter rail) appropriate park and ride options and a system with good regional partner governments or a regional taxing authority to create a seamless system. It is very important for the traveling public who cannot or do not wish to own multiple automobiles to have options for mobility. A good transit system reduces carbon monoxide and other emissions into the environment and helps keep our air clean for current and future generations.
Terrence Nash, 6th Dist., Website: http://www.nash4kc.com – See website
Kevin McManus, 6th Dist., Website: http://Kevin4KC.com – The development and implementation of an affordable and accessible regional transit system is critical both to our city’s future and the quality of life of our residents. The cost of driving continues to rise, and owning a car is a luxury that many residents simply cannot afford. In addition, many residents who can afford a car also want to use public transit and expect to have access to a transit system from their neighborhoods. For these reasons, our city needs to continue to develop and expand its regional transit system so it can provide residents with a variety of options and multiple modes of transportation, whether by car, bus, rail, bike or foot.
Part Two Questions: Pedestrian and Special Transportation Issues, and Funding Current Transit Operations
A. Pedestrian issue
1.City Council adopted the Walkability Plan in 2003 as part of the FOCUS Kansas City Plan. However, the Walkability Plan was never integrated into the Development Code, except for a Walkability Study being triggered when a Traffic Study is required. Therefore, contrary to the intent of the plan, Walkabilty issues are rarely addressed with new developments.
Do you favor implementing recommendations from the Walkability Plan into the Development Code?
YES or NO
B. Special Transportation
2.Demand for special transportation services (like Share-A-Fare) is growing rapidly as demographics change, such as an ageing population. Current service levels may not meet the demand in the medium term.
Do you support the efforts of KCATA, MARC’s Regional Transit Coordinating Council and the MARC’s Mobility Advisory Committee to create a seamless, regional Special Transportation system to better serve the whole community and meet increasing demand?
YES or NO
3. Easter Seals provides multiple resources for issues related to people with disabilities. Last year they released“Effective Snow Removal for Pathways and Transit Stops” (ES_Snow_Removal_Brief), which discusses best practices from other cities for snow and ice removal to insure accessibility for people with disabilities.
Will you support implementing best practices in areas where the city may fall short of these snow removal practices, therefore increasing safety and accessibility in winter for people with disabilities?
YES or NO
C. Funding Current Transit Operations
4. Twice Kansas City voters passed an additional 3/8 percent transit sales tax in addition to the ½ cent transportation sales tax to fund area transit.
However, since 2003, Kansas City has diverted $52 million (sales tax use since 2003) from the ½ cent transportation sales tax to pay for road projects. In the current FY15-16 budget, $6 million is going to roadwork from this revenue source. Failure to provide the sales tax revenue to KCATA has delayed restoration of the 9.5% service cut made in 2009 due to the recession and implementation of improvements such as the Prospect and North Oak MAX lines.
Will you commit to following Ordinance 130796 and pay KCATA “no less than 95% of proceeds derived” from the ½ percent transportation sales tax (Public Mass Transportation Sales Tax), as calculated in the ordinance? This means the KCATA payment would be re-calculated if the actual sales tax revenue is higher than budgeted.
YES or NO
5. Additional comments on the above topics
- A. Pedestrian issues
- B. Special Transportation issues
- C.Funding Current Transit Operations
Part Three Questions: Regional Transit, Transit Oriented Development and Streetcar Extensions
D. Regional Transit
6. Which two regional transit issues do you feel are the most important to the region and want Kansas City to take a leadership role?
- A. Purchase the Rock Island Rail Corridor for use as an extension of the Katy Trail and possible future transit corridor.
- B.Creation of a seamless coordinated regional Special Transportation system for seniors and people with disabilities
- C.Creation of a seamless regional bus system that fills the huge regional service gaps that exist.
- D.Establishing the goal of doubling access to jobs available by transit over the next 10 years
- E. Building a Commuter Rail system throughout Jackson Count
- F.Creation of a regional financing mechanism for transit
- G.Other:____Provide another reason____________
Choices 1.____________ 2._______________
E. Transit Oriented Development
7. Do you support the creation of designated transit corridors with enhanced transit services (BRT or rail), zoned for mixed-use, higher density development, reduced parking requirements; and designed around “complete-streets” concepts, while offering broad financial incentives for developers?
YES or NO
8. Besides the present downtown streetcar corridor, which one or two transit corridors do you support being rezoned for Transit Oriented Development along the lines suggested above.
- ______________ 2.______________
G. Streetcar Extensions
9a. Do you support extending the streetcar to the Plaza/UMKC Area?
YES or NO
9b.The main reasons for your answer: pick two from the appropriate column
10 Funding a streetcar extension: The city takes over $2 million yearly from the city-wide ½ cent transportation sales tax, which normally funds the bus system, to pay for the Downtown Streetcar. That amounts to $50 million toward the 24-year bond re-payment, or about half of the base cost of the Downtown Streetcar.
Would you accept a streetcar extension financing plan that takes additional money from the bus system out of the ½ cent transportation sales tax?
YES or NO
11. Additional comments on the above topics
- A. Regional Transit initiatives
- B. Transit Oriented Development
- C. Kansas City streetcar extensions.
Transit Action Network hopes that this On-line Transit Forum has been helpful.
Background for new transit advocates:
- In FY14-15, the KCATA payment from the ½ cent Transportation Sales Tax was not re-calculated from the budgeted amount even though there was a 13% increase in sales tax revenue. Based on the Submitted Budget for FY15-16, that amounted to $4 million being diverted from KCATA last fiscal year.
- The $2.1 million annual transfer from the 1/2 cent Transportation Sales Tax to the Streetcar Fund previously went to the bus system. Per the city treasurer, approximately $830,000 of this transfer is related to the property tax on city owned property in the Downtown Transportation Development District (TDD). The additional yearly $1.2 million is a contribution the city gives the streetcar and is not based on city owned properties.
- Federal Transit Administration (FTA) policy does not support federal funds being used for rail if the local bus system is harmed in order to build a rail system. As a result, current Kansas City officials have said that the service levels for the bus system will be maintained so the bus system is not harmed by taking $2.1 million yearly away from the buses.