Transit Action Network (TAN)

Advocates for Improved and Expanded Transit in the Kansas City Region.

Posts Tagged ‘Kansas City’

Public Budget Hearing Saturday Feb 23 Speak Up About the Millions Diverted From KCATA

Posted by Transit Action Network on February 22, 2013


kcmo_big_logoLast KCMO Public Budget Hearing for FY 2013-2014

Saturday, February 23
9am to 11am
KCPD South Patrol Division (main entrance)
9701 Marion Park Drive , KCMO 64137

In 2003 and again in 2008, Kansas City passed a 3/8-cent transit sales tax in order to build a bigger better bus system. It was a package deal: the 3/8-cent transit tax would add to the already existing ½ cent transportation sales tax (which previously had been the only source of funding for the Metro) to provide KCATA with the equivalent of 7/8 cents sales tax for operating the Metro.  That is NOT what happened.METRO ogo

In the City’s proposed budget for FY 2013-2014, KCATA is getting less than 6/8 cents in sales tax. The city is diverting nearly $10 million away from KCATA even though they are violating Ordinance 100951 to do so.

For the proposed FY2013-2014 budget, 1/8-cent sales tax generates a little over $8 million.

$10_million_shortIf the city was obeying the ordinance and started incrementally increasing the KCATA share of the ½ cent transportation sales tax in May 2011, then KCATA would be getting about $6 million more in the FY 2013-2014 budget. If KCATA only got $5 million more in this budget, they would not have to bleed out the reserve account to maintain service.

Saturday is the last public budget hearing to comment on the city diverting money away from KCATA despite the clear intention of voters that the full 7/8 cent of sales tax should support the bus system.  However, continue to contact the mayor and your council members though March until the budget is adopted.

Where is nearly $10 million going in the proposed budget instead of to KCATA?

  • $6 million to non-transit projects in public works – 18% of the money
  • $2 million to the streetcar – 6.1%
  • Almost $2 million is held back by the city  – 5.4%
    • The previous two years, the city hoarded over $5 million in the fund rather than pass the money on to the KCATA.

    At this point, KCATA is not going to get one more dollar than it did this year.

This diversion of tax money away from the KCATA is not new. This is why in 2010 we approached the city to pass an ordinance that required the city manager to give 95% of the ½ cent transportation sales tax to KCATA by May 2014, and to start incrementally increasing the KCATA share of the money in May 2011. This ordinance meant the city would comply with the promises made to voters in the two earlier elections. Instead the city has violated the ordinance every year. KCATA is getting a smaller share of the fund than it did in 2010. The KCATA share has gone from 74% down to 71%.

1_2_comparison_again

Voters should understand that legally the city could trash Ordinance 100951 and totally ignore the two elections and give all the ½-cent transportation fund to roads and streetcars. Voters never get to vote on this money since it is taxing authority given to the city from the State of Missouri. That is why we approached the council in 2010 and tried to protect the bus service from encroachments from other projects by passing the ordinance. Up to this point the city has chosen to flagrantly ignore that ordinance.

In fact, the city manager is already saying he wants the council to change the ordinance. One possibility for changing the ordinance being openly discussed is to allocate $2 million to the streetcar off the top and let KCATA have 95% (or less) of what is left.

No matter how great it is to have a streetcar and give more money to roads, the bus system still has to carry the heavy load of transporting nearly 55,000 people daily to work and home and all their other transit trips. And KCATA ridership is increasing. Kansas City is huge geographically and it takes a lot of money to transport people over all these miles.  Continue to shrink the money, expect to shrink the service area and service level.

For a change, we would prefer to see KCATA fully funded and get MAX systems added to Prospect and North Oak, instead of having to cut service in a couple of years. There are consequences to the city’s actions.

The city council still has time to fix all of this. Do they have the will? Some of the council members do, such as Ed Ford and John Sharp. Please contact the mayor and the city council and let them know what you think about taking all this money away from the Metro.

Previous posts:

Action Alert! KCMO City Manager’s Budget Is Failing The Transit System

Speak Up to Restore KCATA Funding and Listen to KKFI To Get the Scoop

Lynn Horsley’s column in the KC Star http://www.kansascity.com/2013/02/08/4056689/bus-backers-worry-about-funds.html

Listen to Janet Rogers, co-founder of Transit Action Network discuss this issue on KKFI radio’s TellSomebody, hosted by Tom Klammer on Feb 5, 2013

http://tellsomebody.libsyn.com/city-manager-schulte-reneges-on-transit-funding-obligation

Contact Kansas City Mayor and City Council

Mayor’s office 816-513-3500 email Mayor@kcmo.org

Council office 816-513-1368

Go to http://kcmo.org/CKCMO/CityOfficials/CityCouncilOffice/index.htm for phone numbers and emails for specific council members

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KC Downtown Streetcar Open House – Feb 21 (To be re-scheduled due to snow)

Posted by Transit Action Network on February 20, 2013


Enjoy the first KC Downtown Streetcar Open House in Union Station’s Grand Hall. The event is hosted by the City of Kansas City.KC_streetcar

Detailed exhibits will be on display illustrating the two-mile route, including information about construction, station stops and the vehicle maintenance facility. No presentation will be made so visit anytime during meeting.

Construction is planned to start in late spring or early summer, so property owners, business owners and residents along the route are encouraged to attend the meeting and share their thoughts and concerns with representatives of the City and the consultant team.

Date and Time: Thursday, Feb 21 between 4 pm and 7 pm

Location:

Union Station,Grand Hall
30 W. Pershing Ave.
Kansas City, MO

For more information about the project, visit the Downtown Streetcar website at http://www.kcstreetcar.org for updates on the project and road closure and detour information.  You can also call the streetcar hotline at 816-822-3011.

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KKFI EcoRadio Discusses KC Transit Issues with TAN on Feb 11

Posted by Transit Action Network on February 10, 2013


KKFI 90.1 FMEcoRadio on KKFI Community Radio, 90.1 FM,  discusses transit issues in the Kansas City region on Monday, Feb 11 at 6 pm with TAN co-founder, Ron McLinden.

From EcoRadio, “America’s car culture must end soon if we’re going to avoid catastrophic climate disruption, and it will be forced to end over time as global oil production peaks and begins to decline, driving up fuel prices. We can’t expect Kansas Citians to drive a lot less until we give them safe and comfortable alternatives, though. Host John Kurmann will talk with Ron McLinden of the KC Transit Action Network about plans for streetcars running between the City Market and Crown Center, commuter rail in Jackson County, the City of Kansas City, MO’s failure to fully fund bus service, and how we can make our regional transit system easier to use.”


				

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Speak Up to Restore KCATA Funding and Listen to KKFI To Get the Scoop

Posted by Transit Action Network on February 1, 2013


This Saturday tell your Council Members and the Mayor to restore funding to KCATA as intended by Ordinance 100951.METRO logo (Read our previous article for Ordinance details-see link below)

Saturday, February 2
9am to 11am
Robert J. Mohart Multi-Purpose Center (auditorium)
3200 Wayne, KCMO 64109

kcmo_big_logoThere are only three public budget hearings about the city manager’s proposed budget. Tell your Council Members and the Mayor that the failure to “incrementally increase” the KCATA budget toward 95% of the available money is unacceptable and against the wishes of the voters.

People depend on this service for all aspects of their lives including getting to work and school, buying groceries and medicines, and going to the doctor. The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) announced that 2012 Metro ridership exceeded 16.1 million trips, the second highest annual ridership in nearly two decades. The Metro is an essential service.

The city has not “incrementally increased” the percentage that KCATA is receiving despite what the ordinance instructs the city manager to do.  KCATA received 74% when the ordinance was passed in 2010. Funding for KCATA has to be at 95% by May 2014.  The city manager’s budget is only proposing 71% for KCATA, which is less than when the ordinance was passed. If the KCATA budget was “incrementally increased” after the ordinance, then it should receive close to 88% in this budget.

The beginning of 2011, right after the ordinance was passed, TAN held an on-line forum for the mayoral election. Before the ordinance was passed the city was diverting over $5 million to non-transit uses.  Here is Candidate Sly James’ comment about that situation:

“I’ve been a strong advocate for public transit and will continue to be as mayor.  However, we need to restore the public’s trust in City Hall before we ask for additional tax dollars.  The city’s plan to withhold $5.4 million in tax revenue intended for KCATA is simply unacceptable and represents a systemic problem with the way our city conducts business.  Withholding funds that have been allocated by voters for a specific purpose continues to breed the type of widespread distrust of City Hall that must be fixed.  Our budget must always reflect the priorities of the citizens of Kansas City, not simply the priorities of our bureaucracy.”

 Message to Mayor James – This proposed budget has increased the amount being diverted to non-transit uses to $6 million. KKFI 90.1 FM

If the city doesn’t follow the ordinance, KCATA will need to subsidize the city’s bus service $5 million this year to maintain this service level.  KCATA continues to provide more transit service than the city is paying for. KCATA is using up its emergency reserve account to pick up the difference. KCMO should stop dragging its feet and use the taxes the way the voters intended.

Listen to KKFI Community Radio 90.1 FM

To hear more about this issue, TAN advocate Janet Rogers will be a guest on two KKFI radio shows to talk about what is happening to KCATA funding and why the proposed budget needs to be changed.

Saturday February 2 – Sharon Lockhart’s Every Woman between 3-4 pm

Tuesday, February 5 – Tom Klammer’s Tell Somebody between 6-7 pm

Previous TAN article: Action Alert! KCMO City Manager’s Budget Is Failing The Transit System

Opportunities to speak up at 2013-14 Public Budget Hearings

Saturday, February 2
9am to 11am
Robert J. Mohart Multi-Purpose Center (auditorium)
3200 Wayne, KCMO 64109

Saturday, February 9
9am to 11am
Northland Neighborhoods Inc.
4420 NE Chouteau Trafficway, KCMO 64117

Saturday, February 23
9am to 11am
KCPD South Patrol Division (main entrance)
9701 Marion Park Drive , KCMO 64137

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Action Alert! KCMO City Manager’s Budget Is Failing The Transit System

Posted by Transit Action Network on January 25, 2013


kcmo_big_logoIn December of 2010, Transit Action Network lead an effort to get Ordinance 100951 passed to restore funding to KCATA  from the 1/2 cent transportation sales tax (officially the “Public Mass Transportation Fund”). Groups representing over 160,000 people, in addition to bus riders, spoke up in support of this ordinance.

Now the City Manger’s submitted budget for FY 2013-14 doesn’t abide by this Ordinance to restore funding to the Metro.

KCATA averages nearly 55,000 daily riders and 2012 ridership was the second highest in 20 years. The transit system is vital to people getting to work and looking for work, yet the City Manager’s budget appears to be ignoring this simple instruction regarding KCATA funding based on the ordinance:

Section 2. That the City Manager is directed to incrementally increase the current appropriation to 95%, beginning with the budget taking effect on May 1, 2011.

The 95% requirement to restore funding to KCATA has to be met by May 2014, yet KCATA is budgeted a smaller percentage (70.5%) in the proposed FY 2013-14 budget than when the ordinance was passed in December 2010 (73.8%).  The dollar amount budgeted for KCATA is the same for FY 2013-14 as FY 2012-13. The City Manager’s KCATA budget is going in the wrong direction! It isn’t fair and it doesn’t match the wishes of the voters or the ordinance passed by the City Council. Why do people have to fight the same battles with public officials over and over again?

1.   Call your council member or Mayor James to insist that Ordinance 100951 be followed and not ignored. Ask that the KCATA funding be moved close to  $29 million (88%) from the Public Mass Transportation Fund, which is appropriate for this step in implementation of the Ordinance, instead of the $23.5 million (70.5%) the City Manager has proposed.

Mayor’s office 816-513-3500 email Mayor@kcmo.org

Council office 816-513-1368

Go to http://kcmo.org/CKCMO/CityOfficials/CityCouncilOffice/index.htm

For phone numbers and emails for specific council members

Where is the incremental increase for KCATA?

Where is the incremental increase for KCATA?

2. Attend the budget hearings and insist that the ordinance be implemented correctly.

2013-14 Public Budget Hearings Currently Announced

Saturday, February 2
9am to 11am
Robert J. Mohart Multi-Purpose Center (auditorium)
3200 Wayne, KCMO 64109

Saturday, February 9
9am to 11am
Northland Neighborhoods Inc.
4420 NE Chouteau Trafficway, KCMO 64117

Saturday, February 23
9am to 11am
KCPD South Patrol Division (main entrance)
9701 Marion Park Drive, KCMO 64137

The non-transit uses were supposed to be reduced to allow the KCATA budget to increase. The 1/2 cent transportation sales tax was not supposed to be diverted to non-transit uses when the 3/8 cent transit sales tax was voted in. In fact, the non-transit uses have gone from $4.6 million in the year the ordinance was passed to $6 million for the proposed budget.

KCATA is providing more transit service than the city is paying for by using up its reserve account. Their other choice is to significantly cut service again and no one wants that. The reserve account was used to help out in the recent financial crisis, but this shouldn’t still be happening. There is a serious need for the Ordinance to be implemented and the city should stop dragging its feet, pay its bills and provide the essential transit service the voters want.

In addition, the city has taken the $2 million it committed for the streetcar from this fund. The $2 million for the streetcar is a long-term yearly commitment for the city.

TAN has alerted the City Auditor, Gary White, to this situation. Part of his job is to alert city officials to potential problems that could undermine the public’s trust in City government.” Not abiding by this ordinance certainly falls into that category.

==============================================================================

See our recent article. Our Request to KCMO: Move Transit Funding Closer to Goal in Next Budget  (This article was written using the previous budget numbers)

Links to two 2010 blog posts  A Great Victory For Transit and The Scoop on Kansas City Transit Funding

Public Mass Transportation Fund-Submitted FY 2013-14 Budget from the City Manager’s budget

The full Manager’s Budget can be found online in the City’s Open Data Catalog at http://data.kcmo.org.

Ordinance 100951

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Time To Sign Up – National Smart Growth Conference with a Kansas City Flavor – Feb 7-9

Posted by Transit Action Network on January 2, 2013


NPSG logo

 New Partners Conference

This year, the New Partners Conference makes its way to America’s heartland—Kansas City, Missouri.

New Partners says “Smart-growth development – compact, walkable, and diverse – is attractive to developers, investors, local governments and communities because it offers new opportunities for economic growth that’s also environmentally sustainable. The 2013 New Partners for Smart Growth Conference offers lots of opportunities to learn about smart growth and economic success.”

The 12th annual New Partners conference will explore practical strategies for identifying and overcoming barriers to more sustainable development in the Midwest and the rest of the nation.

The three-day conference program will include more than 90 sessions and close to 400 speakers. The multidisciplinary program includes breakout sessions, workshops and training sessions.  It  features cutting-edge policies and programs, projects, and best practices, as well as strategies and implementation tools that address the challenges of implementing smart growth development principles.

15 optional tours of local model projects

Don’t just talk about smart growth – come to the conference and see it! Beyond the great sessions, New Partners also offers 15 optional tours of local model projects on Thursday morning and afternoon and Sunday morning (Feb 10th) .

On Thursday morning, Feb 7th, KCATA, the FTA, and Transit Action Network present:

Tour 3–Kansas City’s Low-Cost/ High-Benefit BRT – The MAX

MAX brt

Full  Tour List
  • Tour1–Kansas City, Kansas:Melting Pot in“The Dotte”
  • Tour2–What 1893 KC Can Tell Us about Our American Cities Today
  • Tour3–Kansas City’s Low-Cost/ High-Benefit BRT – The MAX
  • Tour4–A Look at Marlborough: A Community Focused on Holistic Solutions
  • Tour5–Green Impact Zone:A Model of  Concentrated Capacity Building
  • Tour6–Global Trade and Local Community: A Tour of Argentine Neighborhoods
  • Tour 7–First Suburban Redevelopment Strategies in the Kansas City Metro
  • Tour8–Development Tools…Historic Preservation, the Arts and Infrastructure
  • Tour9–18th & Vine Jazz District:A Walk through the Past into the Future
  • Tour10–Rain to Recreation:Lenexa’s Strategy for Stormwater Management
  • Tour11–Kansas City Municipal Farm:Urban Agriculture and Sustainable Transformation
  • Tour12–KC Regional Solar Installations
  • Tour13–Kansas City Walk Audit with Walkability Guru Dan Burden
  • Tour14–Smart Growth Can Be Fun:City Market, Food Trucks, Power & Light District, Crossroads
  • Tour15–Distributing Local, Good Food: The Good Natured Family Farms Experience

Local Sessions

­   Regional Equity Network
   Scenario Planning Tools (combines local Envision Tomorrow examples with examples from other regions)
­   How Midwest Cities Use EECBG (includes Dennis Murphy of KCMO)
­   Good Movement (includes KC examples as well as examples from other parts of the country)
­   Managing school closings (includes KCMO as well as other communities outside the metro area)

There are also a number of Midwest sessions that do not necessarily involve the KC region.

Special Features of the Conference

  • Technology Fair: An Interactive Demonstration of Public Engagement Tools for Smart Planning
  • New Partners Takes the “Parklet” Indoors!
  • The Doctor Is In – the Midwest: EPA’s Smart Growth Prescriptions to Create Sustainable Communities

Sessions will be at the Kansas City Convention Center, with guest rooms across the street at the Marriott Kansas City Downtown Hotel.

Come join us in this process by making your reservation to attend, today!

Conference Brochure

Conference Website & Registration

Registration Deadline: The registration deadline is Friday, January 18, 2013. Registrations will be accepted after this date if space is available, and a $50 late fee will apply. All walk-ins will also include a $35 “walk in” fee (in addition to the late fee).

The official hotel room rate for the group is $119 (single/double) until January 14, 2013 at 5:00pm CDT. After that date, the group rate is subject to availability and is not guaranteed.

PRE-CONFERENCE Wednesday Workshop

Sustainable Neighborhoods, Thriving Residents: Strategies for Building Equitable Communities
■ February 6 • 1:00-6:30 p.m.

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KC Streetcar Party Video

Posted by Transit Action Network on December 14, 2012


Transit Action Network shares Kansas City’s excitement over the success of the streetcar election. It has taken a long time and a lot of work but Kansas City will finally get rail and the return of streetcars. Receiving 63% of the vote for the sales tax and 62% for the property tax is a huge victory. This election is a major historic event for Kansas City. Congratulations to everyone who worked on this project and voted for the streetcar!

Watch the election party video and hear the full presentations by Mayor James and Councilmen Russ Johnson and Jim Glover. There is a lot of excitement about the direction of the city.

P1020848

Matt and David in St. Louis learning how to pass a transit ballot initiative, June 2011

P1020858_2

Matt, Janet and David at the CFTE conference, June 2011

Nearly two  years ago we went to lunch with David Johnson and Matthew Staub and suggested they start a dedicated downtown advocacy group to fight for creating a Transportation Development District, TDD, and funding the streetcar. In April 2011, we went with David to the Downtown Neighborhood Association to talk about the streetcar and using the TDD legislation. In June 2011, David,  Matt, TAN advocate Janet Rogers and other Kansas City transit advocates all went to St. Louis for a conference on “How to Pass a Transit Ballot Initiative” hosted by the Center for Transportation Excellence. After that David and Matt were up and running with Streetcar Neighbors.  Little did we know they would do such a great job to make the streetcar a reality, but we certainly believed they were the right people for the job.

Other transit advocates wanting to expand the streetcar into their neighborhoods are already learning from the Streetcar Neighbors model – start early, identify the potential YES voters and get out the vote.

If you missed the Election Watch Party, you can watch it here!

Posted in Events, Rail, Videos-Transit | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Attend the Streetcar Election Watch Party Today

Posted by Transit Action Network on December 12, 2012


kcmo_big_logoThe Kansas City Streetcar election ended last night at 5:00 pm.  565 ballots were received. The Election Board counts and certifies the ballots today.DTSC

Streetcar Neighbors, in collaboration with the Downtown Council,  are hosting an Election Watch Party today.

Where: 1617 Event Space at Nara  1617 Main Street, Kansas City, Missouri 64108

When: 4 pm to 8 pm

At 4:30 pm Mayor Sly James is scheduled to announce the results of the election.

We expect this announcement to be a major event in the history of Kansas City . Be there!

Facebook event page: Streetcar Election Watch Party

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Jackson County AA Study Team Will Reveal Recommendations Tomorrow

Posted by Transit Action Network on November 26, 2012


Tomorrow, November 27, consultant recommendations from the Jackson County Commuter Corridors Alternatives Analysis will be presented to stakeholders in the morning, and to the public that afternoon.

 Transit consultant Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB), guided by Mid-America Regional Council, Jackson County, Kansas City, and Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, has been studying commuter needs in three corridors for nearly three years.  Work on the I-70 and Rock Island corridors is about complete, while work on the third corridor, US-71, got started late and is farther behind.

Here’s what we expect tomorrow:

[1] – Commuter rail is in.  Commuter rail will be recommended in the I-70 corridor since the underlying motivation for the AA was to find a way to make commuter rail workable.

[2] – Union Station is out.  Union Station is out and Third and Grand is back in as the western terminus for commuter rail from eastern Jackson County. This is the site of the current KCATA park-and-ride lot and the end of the MAX and future Downtown Streetcar lines.  Jackson County tried to work with Kansas City Terminal Railway to get access to Union Station, but latest indications are that KCT has not been interested in a capacity analysis on their tracks to see if it could be made to work — not even if Jackson County pays for the study.  Union Station has been the preferred terminus from the beginning, so we expect to hear that some day commuter rail might go there.  Realistically, that isn’t likely if hundreds of millions of dollars are spent going to Third and Grand.

 [3] – No CEI.  We had anticipated that the study would include a Cost-Effectiveness Index (CEI) for each rail corridor.  However, indications are that it won’t.  The CEI is a standard measure of costs and benefits (and thus of relative merit) used by the Federal Transit Administration in evaluating projects that compete for federal funding.  Omission of this measure is disappointing in light of the emphasis PB’s Shawn Dikes put on it at the first stakeholder meeting.  A rule of thumb in transit studies is that following FTA procedures is a good indication of whether a project makes sense – whether FTA funding is to be sought or not.

We suspect the Study Team knows without doing the calculations that commuter rail in this corridor isn’t cost-effective by FTA standards, and just doesn’t want to release unfavorable information – even though more than $1.2 million has been spent on the study.  Our preference is to have the CEI as an objective comparison to recent commuter rail projects in other cities, and to thus have a better-informed electorate.  Thus, we’re disappointed that PB hasn’t stayed true to its original focus on the importance of the CEI number.

 [4] – There is political and popular support for transit.  Unlike in 2007, there is political will to take a transit and trails package to the voters, even if we have to pay locally for most of any rail proposal.  The AA might not support federal funding for rail, but people do a lot of things subjectively, and there’s a widely held perception that the Kansas City Region should have rail.  Commuter rail might still be five years or more away – detailed environmental studies related to impacts on Kessler Park plus construction will take time.

 [5] – The Package.  We don’t expect to find out much tomorrow about the comprehensive package Jackson County will ultimately take to the voters late next year, but it’s safe to say it will include something for everyone:

  • One line for commuter rail.
  • A hefty trails plan that includes the old Rock Island right-of-way as a connection to the cross-state Katy Trail.
  • Upgraded express bus service with more frequent peak hour trips, plus at least a few midday trips.
  • New transit routes to connect the various cities, especially in Eastern Jackson County.
  • Something significant for Kansas City.  The city already pays for the region’s highest level of transit service, including two popular BRT routes, a Downtown Streetcar line expected to begin construction in 2013, and more than a dozen routes that operate 7 days a week.  Jackson County has been talking about BRT on Prospect, and we’re interested to see what else the County has planned to entice KCMO residents.

Tuesday is the day to watch.  The Stakeholder Advisory Panel will meet at MARC at 8:00 am to hear and respond to the recommendations for the corridors, followed by the Open House for the public at 140 Walnut in River Market between 4:00 and 6:00 pm.

So there you have it – what we think we know.  We’re willing to be proven wrong, of course.  But we can promise you one thing:  It’s going to be One Interesting Tuesday.

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Jackson County Transit Studies Open House Nov. 27

Posted by Transit Action Network on November 21, 2012


Click to Enlarge

Join us at the last open house for the  Jackson County Commuter Corridors Alternatives Analysis, which covers the  I-70 and Rock Island Corridors. The last Stakeholder Advisory Panel meeting is being held the morning of Nov. 27 and this public gathering is on the same evening.  Learn about the final recommendations being made toward determining an LPA, “Locally Preferred Alternative”  and provide your input for the Partnership Team.

Where: River Market Event Place
            140 Walnut Street, Kansas City, MO
When: Anytime between 4 pm and 6 pm on Nov 27, 2012

This open house provides information on all three corridors being studied; I-70, Rock Island and US 71. The US 71 Transit Study is ongoing.

There will be prizes and giveaways, too!

TAN advocates Janet Rogers and Mark McDowell have enjoyed serving on the JCCC AA Stakeholder Advisory Panel and they continue to serve on the Stakeholder Advisory Panel for the  US 71 Transit Study.

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Our Request to KCMO: Move Transit Funding Closer to Goal in Next Budget

Posted by Transit Action Network on November 16, 2012


In late 2010, Transit Action Network initiated and led a campaign to restore transit funding from the Public Mass Transportation Fund (1/2-cent city transportation sales tax).  We were successful in getting Ordinance 100951 passed. The Ordinance increases the share of revenue going to the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority back to the 95% level it received before voter approval of the 3/8-cent transit sales tax in 2003. Full implementation to 95% is due in the budget for FY 2014-2015, beginning May 2014.

In 2010,  KCATA was receiving only 74% of the ½ cent sales tax. The ordinance has three years to be fully implemented.  From 74% to 95% is a 21% increase. Over the three years of implementation, that would be 7% per year if increased in equal amounts.

One year has passed and KCATA currently receives only 4% more than in the pre-100951 budget. The city is working on the second budget (FY 2013-2014) and we would like to see KCATA receive closer to 88% of the Total Available Resources. That would be 14% higher than when the ordinance was enacted and would represent a more consistent phased increase.

We recently sent a letter to the Mayor, City Council and City Manager asking for the upcoming budget to move significantly closer to the May 2014 goal, in conformance with Ordinance 100951. (2012 Letter and copy of Ordinance to Mayor and Council)

KCATA Share of the Public Mass Transportation Fund

Graph based on Public Mass Transportation Fund budget page for FY 2012-2013

Percentage equals Pass Through Payments1 times 100 divided by Total Available Resources.

1This is the amount KCATA receives, see budget page.

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Jackson County Transit Studies Update – Our Current Assessment

Posted by Transit Action Network on October 15, 2012


There was no surprise when Jackson County announced that it would not put a transit tax measure on the ballot this November. There are still too many unknowns, and a comprehensive package will take more time to develop. Better to do this right than fast.

One of the big unknowns is location of a downtown terminus for commuter rail. The Jackson County Commuter Corridors Alternatives Analysis for the I-70 and Rock Island corridors, which has been underway  for over a year, is currently on hold. The County would like to move the downtown terminus from Third and Grand, the option presented to the public in April, to Union Station. That’s good, because nearly everyone really wants commuter trains to go there, and that’s the location identified for commuter rail in Kansas City’s comprehensive plan, FOCUS.

The sticking point has been getting the Kansas City Terminal Railway to agree to allow commuter trains on their tracks.  These are the tracks that Amtrak trains already use.  Once the Terminal (and its owners, primarily the Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Union Pacific) agree they are open to that possibility, a capacity analysis will have to be done to determine if commuter trains can be sandwiched in among all the freight and Amtrak trains.

Actually, it’s a little more complicated than that: whereas there’s some flexibility in freight train schedules, frequent delays for a commuter train could lead to loss of riders and failure of the whole commuter rail endeavor, so the railroads would have to commit to a pretty exacting schedule for the commuter trains.  As of this writing, a capacity analysis has not yet been done.

For commuter rail into Union Station to work, the railroads have to:

  • agree in principle that commuter trains on their tracks would be OK
  • complete a capacity analysis to determine that it’s feasible, and
  • develop detailed cost estimates.

Meanwhile, Jackson County continues to work on more-detailed cost estimates for getting trains to a terminal at Third and Grand.

While that’s going on, the US 71 Corridor Transit Study is proceeding in the first phase of its evaluation process.

In addition to studying the I-70, Rock Island, and US 71 corridors to identify a locally preferred alternative in each, Jackson County is fleshing out the rest of a county-wide transit and trails plan to take to the voters. 

That plan would:

  1. Fill in many of the bus transit needs in the county. All rail systems need a robust bus system to support them and Jackson County doesn’t have that outside of Kansas City, Missouri. MARC’s Smart Moves transit concept is the basis for filling in the missing transit links in the county, and Transit Action Network advocates Janet Rogers and Ron McLinden are working with a team that includes Jackson County, Kansas City, KCATA, and consultants to help define the transit part of the package.
  2. Develop a plan to connect and complete a Jackson County trails system. No longer would there be “trails to nowhere,” but “trails to everywhere.” The County has been working with trail and bike advocates, using MARC’s MetroGreen plan as the basis for the trails component.

Assuming voters approved a one-cent sales tax  — nobody at the County will verify that this is the target amount — that would raise only about $80 million per year. Given that limitation, the County will have to make some tough choices because they can’t afford to do everything that’s currently being considered.

Right now we consider the following as likely components of a trails and transit package to be submitted to the voters:

  • Probably one commuter rail line using the Kansas City Southern tracks in the I-70 corridor
  • Implementation of many of the service components of the region’s Smart Moves transit plan
  • Bus Rapid Transit (MAX style service) on Prospect
  • Transit connections linking municipalities throughout the County
  • Upgraded Express Bus Services in all three major corridors (including I-70, even if commuter rail is developed in that corridor)
  • Build out of a complete network of trails as envisioned in MetroGreen.

We anticipate seeing such a package submitted to the voters sometime in 2013, though perhaps not until the second half of the year.

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Attend the KC Downtown Streetcar Authority Meeting – Sept 26

Posted by Transit Action Network on September 25, 2012


The KC Downtown Streetcar Authority meetings are open to the public. Feel free to attend and hear the discussions.

Next meeting:

When: Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012, 11-12:30 p.m.
Where: Helzberg Auditorium, Central Library, 10th and Main, Kansas City MO.
The Authority will start discussions about the fare structure and choosing an operator.

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US 71 Transit Study – Video of Open House

Posted by Transit Action Network on September 10, 2012


The Jackson County US 71 Transit Study, an Alternatives Analysis, started in June and is the third transit corridor to be studied as the County works to complete a transit package to put before voters. Completion is scheduled for the end of the year.

There have been two Stakeholder meetings (Janet Rogers and Mark McDowell both represent TAN) and a public meeting. Until a final decision has been made for locally preferred alternatives in the three corridors, nothing can go forward.

The US 71 corridor originates in downtown Kansas City, Missouri and extends south of the downtown area, terminating in Belton, Missouri. The corridor generally parallels U.S. 71 crossing Kansas City (MO), Grandview and Belton and is being evaluated as a potential addition to the Jackson County Commuter Corridors Alternatives Analysis, a transit study that has been in progress since 2011, which consists of the I-70 corridor and the Rock Island corridor.

This corridor is very congested and portions of US 71 between 51st and 75th are particularly slow. Current transit service on U.S. 71 and parallel service on Prospect provide transit access for the area, but scheduled travel times are almost double the travel time of the automobile.

The US 71 corridor study is benefiting from the work already done in the other corridors. This study is considering Express Buses, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), streetcars and commuter rail. Just a reminder that the commuter rail is not electrified light rail. It is a diesel vehicle, Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU), which operates on existing freight lines or new tracks.

The project team, Jackson County, MARC, KCATA and Kansas City, Missouri  and the consulting team, Parsons Brinckerhoff, are all the same as the previous study.

The study is in Phase I, which provides the purpose and needs statement and does an initial evaluation of the alternatives to decide which ones will go through to Phase II.

The first two alternatives advance automatically to Phase II

1. NO Build  – do nothing plus

  • all capital improvements identified in the fiscally constrained MARC 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) that will be implemented by 2035.
  • the existing bus network augmented with the recommendations listed in the KCATA Comprehensive Service Analysis Key Corridor Network.

2. TSM (Transportation Systems Management)

Everything in No Build plus

  • capital improvements and bus network enhancements.
  • an expansion of KC Scout Intelligent Transportation Systems.
  • New park and ride lots
  • Capital bus enhancements on U.S. 71 (such as bus on shoulder), which will be identified and evaluated as part of Tier 2.
  • New intermodal transfer point in vicinity of Hillcrest and Bannister Road.
  • Seven U.S. 71 / Prospect BRT station pairs.
  • Extension of local bus service along Prospect to Bannister Road and Blue Ridge.
  • Extension of Express Bus service (Route #471) from current terminus Point at U.S. 71 & Red ·  Bridge Road to U.S. 71 & M-150. The extended service would serve park and ride lots at U.S.
  • 71/M-150 and at Truman Corners Shopping Center. Number of trips would be increased from 5 AM and 5 PM to 8 AM and 8 PM.

Three additional alternatives to be evaluated for advancement to Phase II

Alternative 1: Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)

  1. Two alignments are anticipated for the BRT alternative–a Commuter BRT on U.S. 71 and an Urban BRT on Prospect.
    1. US 71 Commuter BRT connects M-150 in Grandview with the 10th and Main Transit Center.
    2. Prospect Urban BRT connects Bannister Road in south KC with the 10th and Main Transit Center.

Alternative 2: Enhanced Streetcar Alternative

The enhanced streetcar would serve a third phase of the KC streetcar system (phase II would be to the Plaza). The streetcar would travel on the west side of US 71 and ends at M-150. A feeder bus network would also be a part of this alignment.

We expect the streetcar alternative to be eliminated because it is so expensive and probably wouldn’t qualify for federal funds to help us pay for it. We expect the projected ridership to be too low to make the line cost-effective by FTA standards. If it is advanced to Phase II it will be because the partners want to do the cost and ridership analysis for future reference.

Alternative 3: Diesel Multiple Unit Alternative

The alignment for the DMU Commuter Service South Line runs from the Jackson County Line to Leeds Junction. South of Leeds Junction the rail travels with limited stops on KCS track to its destination near M-150 in Grandview. North of Leeds Junction, it shares a common line with the Rock Island Corridor alternative, and farther north those lines combine with the I-70 corridor into downtown.  The two possible alignments for the DMU Commuter Service Common Line into downtown run from:

a. Leeds Junction to the River Market

b. Leeds Junction to Union Station via the Trench

The DMU alignment crosses nearly 80 bridge structures. About 20 of those would require improvement of some kind, up to and including replacement.

The stations along this alignment are limited due to various complications, including physical challenges and the lack of population and employment density.

The U.S 71 corridor has a large low-income population. The ability to provide improved access to work opportunities is an important goal of the enhanced transit system.

There will be additional public involvement as the study progresses.

US71 – combined alternatives – Click to Enlarge

US71 – BRT -Click to Enlarge

US71 – Streetcar- Click to Enlarge

US71 – DMU – Click to Enlarge

For more detail, review the information from the public open house materials and fill out the comment form.

http://www.kcsmartmoves.org/projects/us71transitstudy-openhouse1.aspx

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KC Downtown Streetcar And The Funding Election

Posted by Transit Action Network on August 29, 2012


If you live in the newly created downtown Transportation Development District (TDD) get ready to pick up you next ballot to vote for funding the downtown streetcar. The TDD board decided on another mail-in election, just like the first election.

Click to enlarge TDD

The second election consists of two questions.

The first question is for the 1-cent retail sales tax.

The second question is for special assessments on property:

  • Residential property — 70 cents per $100 of assessed value
  • Property for non-profits — 40 cents per $100 of property assessed between $300,000 and $50 million
  • Commercial property — 48 cents per $100 of assessed value
  • Municipal (city) property — $1.04 per $100 of assessed value
  • Commercial surface parking lots — fee of 15 cents per space per day

You need to vote yes on both questions. Both questions have to pass for a successful outcome.

Important dates and times:

  • August 31 @ 8 am  – Ballot request period starts. Request ballot from Jackson County Courthouse (or print it from the Judge’s Ruling document below)
  • October 2 @ 5 p.m. Deadline to return completed ballot request and proof of voter registration
  • October 30 – Ballots mailed
  • December 11 @ 5 pm – Ballots due at Jackson County Courthouse

Attend Streetcar Neighbors Ballot Application Breakfast this Friday, August 31 at 7 a.m. at LATTeLAND – 12th St.

The TDD Board consists of Mayor Sly James, Port Authority Chair George Wolf, residential property owner Matthew Staub, and commercial property owner Jeff Krum (CFO of Boulevard Brewing Company). Mayor James and Matthew Staub are co-chairs of the TDD Board.

The Kansas City Streetcar Authority, formed on Aug. 3, consists of downtown stakeholders and city appointees. It’s role is contracting streetcar operations and consulting on remaining engineering and construction activities with Public Works.

As soon as the second election is final, the city can issue bonds and start construction. Operation is planned for 2015.

Judge’s Ruling: KC Streetcar Order for Funding Election

The ballot application is Exhibit B of the Judge’s Ruling. Print, fill out and return the ballot request by 5 p.m. on October 2, 2012 along with proof of voter registration to:

Jackson County Court Administrator
Attn: TDD Ballot Application
415 East 12th Street, Third Floor, Room 303
Kansas City, MO 64106

Proof of voter registration can be a current copy of your voter registration card or go to www.kceb.org and print proof of registration using the “Check Your Voter Status” box.

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Streetcar TDD Vote Passed!

Posted by Transit Action Network on August 1, 2012


The unofficial results are in for the creation of the Downtown Streetcar Transportation Development District (TDD).

318 YES, 141 NO.  Congratulations.  The TDD will be created.

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Streetcar Ballots Due 5 PM July 31

Posted by Transit Action Network on July 30, 2012


Get your ballots in!!! If you haven’t returned your ballot to vote on creating the Transportation Development District (TDD) for the downtown streetcar, the deadline is quickly approaching.

The ballots are due in Jackson County Courthouse by 5 pm July 31. That does NOT mean postmarked by that time. The ballots must be physically present. The election board is going to count the ballots on Aug 1.

The county had received 405 ballots as of last Thursday night. A significant number of the 555 ballots requested had not been received.

At this point, please do NOT mail your ballot.

Either:

1. hand deliver it to Jackson County Courthouse, 415 East 12th Street, Kansas City, Missouri 64106 or

2. if you need the ballot picked up, message Streetcar Neighbors on Facebook and they will pick it up and deliver the ballot for you.

If you didn’t watch our video the KC Streetcar Stroll in May, you may want to watch it now.

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Open Houses – U.S. 71 Transit Study – July 12 and 17

Posted by Transit Action Network on July 10, 2012


The U.S. 71 Transit Study is underway.  The project team and lead consultant are the same as for the Jackson County Commuter Corridors Alternatives Analysis. The project team consists of MARC, Jackson County, Kansas City, and KCATA. The lead project consulting firm is Parsons Brinckerhoff.  Transit Action Network has two advocates on the Stakeholder Advisory Panel.

The U.S. 71 corridor begins in the downtown loop of Kansas City, Mo., and runs south along U.S. 71/Bruce R. Watkins Dr. through Kansas City and Grandview to M-150 near the Cass County border. This heavily traveled corridor includes not only the U.S.71 highway facility, but also Prospect Avenue and adjacent railroad assets.

The study will build on and coordinate with the Jackson County Commuter Corridor Alternatives Analysis, which is studying the I-70 and Rock Island corridors. This study is funded largely by a $652,200 competitive grant from the Federal Highway Administration, which Jackson County acquired.

During the open houses, participants can tell the project partners whether enhanced transit is needed in the corridor and, if so, what their preferred transit option might be. A short update on the alternative analysis study will be given at 4:30 p.m. each day.

Visit the project Website. http://www.kcsmartmoves.org

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Jackson County Transit Study Takes a New Direction

Posted by Transit Action Network on June 25, 2012


Calvin Williford, Jackson County Chief of Staff, recently wrote to the Jackson County Commuter Corridors Partner Team describing new developments related to the study currently underway.  He said completion of the current commuter corridors study would be postponed and the County would move forward with a comprehensive transit plan. Letter_Partnership _Team

For almost two years everyone said the study would be completed and a “Locally Preferred Alternative” (LPA) would be decided in the June 2012 time frame.  In a bold step, and with a growing understanding of transit needs, Jackson County decided to wait for more information. The county’s ambitious target date for having a conceptual countywide transit plan in place is the end of July.

Part of the reason for the postponement is that another study, this one in the Highway 71 / Grandview corridor, is just beginning and the County wants to gain an understanding of transit alternatives in that corridor before making any decisions since all three corridors are interrelated.

The biggest reason for the postponement, though, is that a new rail alternative has become available for consideration — the possibility of getting commuter rail to Union Station.  This new alternative uses the Kansas City Terminal (KCT) Railway tracks to get into the area just north of Union Station. These are the tracks that Amtrak uses. It will be a big deal if the County can get the railroad to consider this. In the past KCT has always rejected the idea of accommodating commuter rail, and the cost of putting new tracks in that corridor would require expanding a number of bridges at an estimated cost of $1 billion.

This new KCT alternative is not without concerns. There are capacity issues since so many freight trains use these tracks daily. Therefore a capacity analysis has to be done first to see if this alternative is workable before formally evaluating this corridor for commuter service as part of the AA.  Because of existing challenges, it was assumed from the beginning that KCT would not allow commuter rail on its tracks. No previous study has been completed to estimate costs, ridership numbers or travel-time savings to Union Station using this route.

Will this rail alternative have significantly better quantitative results than the Third and Grand alternative?  We don’t know. The 2007 study of commuter rail in the I-70 corridor concluded: “Possible conflicts at Union Station with a high volume of freight traffic and Amtrak passenger service have a significant likelihood of negatively impacting commuter rail reliability, which is not acceptable when building ridership.”  If capacity issues can be resolved, then this route should definitely be studied. This route would likely be shorter and provide a more desirable terminus — factors that could improve ridership forecasts.

Like the Third and Grand location, this route would require other transit service (such as the Downtown Streetcar) to provide access to the Central Business District (CBD). However, in contrast to the Third and Grand alternative, there are thousands of jobs in the vicinity of a terminal at Union Station. Since there isn’t a fast direct route from the highways to Union Station, commuter rail on the KCT tracks might compete favorably in travel time with driving, provided they can increase the speed of rail. Of course an express bus will likely still be faster to the Government District and the rest of the CBD.

So that leaves the question of cost. Can Jackson County persuade the railroads to bring the cost of access to their tracks down far enough that even if ridership projections are low and the travel time to the CBD is slow, the overall cost of getting to Union Station will be acceptable? Wait and see. The County is working very hard to put this together.

Williford’s letter also mentions Jackson County’s commitment to developing a comprehensive county-wide transit strategy that includes “rail, buses and a well-connected trails system”. The commuter corridors study process has raised the County’s awareness of the huge transit and trail gaps in the county, and considering a comprehensive package to take to voters is a great idea. In order to develop such a strategy, a number of groups have been convened to look at particular parts of an overall multi-modal plan. MARC is working with trails advocates to develop a detailed trails plan that satisfies multiple users, and the KCATA will be taking the lead in configuring and costing a more extensive bus system following the “Smart Moves” concept. Transit Action Network is part of a committee to identify the transit gaps. The original project team is working with the railroads on the capacity study to get into Union Station, but Third and Grand remains a fallback location for rail.

In a recent public meeting Williford talked about Jackson County’s serious “transit deficits” and made the following specific points:

  1. Every community that has developed rail transit has started first with a robust bus system. “Buses are the backbone of every transit system in the country,” he said, citing the “cost effectiveness” of buses over rail.
  2. Service for the mobility-impaired is inadequate.
  3. You can’t get from Kansas City to Independence after 6:00 at night.

Williford also said that while economic development is important, the county is placing greater emphasis on mobility than it did earlier. We think it’s great that the County’s understanding of the transit issues in the region has developed and expanded.

In order to create a comprehensive plan the County needs to fit all the pieces together with a financial package to pay for it. The County has taxing authority up to a one-cent sales tax. The full tax would raise approximately $80 million, derived almost equally from Kansas City and the rest of the county.

As part of this process, the County realized that parks and trails are really important to people. In the recently concluded session of the Missouri legislature the County successfully sought taxing authority for another ¼ cent sales tax for trails and parks. Such a tax could raise about $20 million.

Jackson County has taken on a huge challenge: Create a plan for commuter transit in three corridors, supplemental transit to fill numerous transit gaps throughout the county, and a set of parks and trails amenities. We hope they can come up with a great package at a cost that’ll be a “no-brainer” for voters to support.

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Time To Vote Yes For Streetcar TDD

Posted by Transit Action Network on June 22, 2012


The ballots to form a Transportation Development District (TDD) have been mailed. If you are one of the 555 people who received a ballot, please send it in as soon as possible.

1. Look for an envelope labeled STREETCAR TDD BALLOT ENCLOSED.

2. Open the envelope and fill in the circle next to YES (ballots are optical scan, so heed all instructions!).

3. Seal the ballot in the enclosed blue return envelope.

4. Have ANY notary confirm your signature on the back of the envelope and make sure they stamp it.

5. Mail or hand-deliver the sealed, signed, and notarized envelope back to the Circuit Court Administrator.

Here’s a sample ballot: http://transitkc.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/BALLOT.pdf

After formation of the TDD, another vote will set the collection rates later this year. If you registered for a ballot, you should have it by now. Your bank has a Notary Public. If that isn’t convenient, then attend one of the Streetcar Neighbors sessions to get your ballot notarized:

10:30 a.m., Saturday, June 23 @ Mildred’s in the Crossroads (1821 Wyandotte)

12:00 p.m., Sunday, June 24 @ LatteLand in the Loop (1201 Main)

More sessions will be scheduled, so check their Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/streetcarneighbors

Ballots must be returned by 5 p.m. Tuesday, July 31. Results should be available by Aug. 3. A simple majority of ballots cast will form the district. Shortly afterward, a TDD Board will be appointed and will kick off all administrative tasks required by state statute.

The failure to receive a federal TIGER IV grant does not affect this vote. Kansas City had a really aggressive timeline for the streetcar and the feds felt we weren’t far enough along in the process to get a grant.

Two reasons:

- Local funding is not in place (this is the TDD)

- Engineering is not complete (will be completed this year)

TIGER grants are a relatively new method of funding transportation projects. They came out of the stimulus package and Congress likes them enough to have offered this money four times. There may or may not be another round of TIGER grants but if there is, Kansas City could apply again if needed. However, Mayor James said Kansas City is proceeding with the traditional method of funding transit projects. Since the projected cost of this project is $101 million it falls into the FTA Small Starts Program. An Alternatives Analysis is needed to apply for this money. The AA was completed in 2011 and all of that information can now be used to submit an application to the FTA.

The Small Starts Program is the normal way to apply for matching funds from the FTA. The TIGER grant was a new option that would have been faster. Other alternative funding sources may be pursued as well.

Here’s a statement from Mayor James. No one should change their vote, since not getting a TIGER grant is only a temporary setback.

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