Transit Action Network (TAN)

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

Posts Tagged ‘Kansas City’

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.

Follow us on Twitter Twitter.com/transactionkc

Join us on Facebook Facebook.com/TransitActionNetwork

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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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TAN’s Position On Transit Alternatives For The I-70 Corridor In Jackson County

Posted by Transit Action Network on June 1, 2012


 Transit Action Network sent its position paper on the I-70 corridor of the Jackson County Commuters Corridors Alternatives Analysis to the Project Team and the Stakeholders. The following position is based on the April 2012 presentations by the Project Team. We understand the numbers are not final, but while we expect them to change to some extent, we do not anticipate they will change in orders of magnitude. Read the whole document TAN Position on I-70 Corridor

1. TAN favors developing Enhanced Express Bus service along the I-70 corridor.

2. Transit facilities should be located and designed to maximize development potential around them.

3. Jackson County should create a County Transit Authority to fund this and other expanded inter-city transit service, thereby relieving localities of this burden.

4. Jackson County should negotiate an agreement with the City of Kansas City to acquire the use of land adjacent to the northern edge of Kessler Park sufficient for a right-of-way for future commuter rail to Second and Grand.

5. Jackson County and Kansas City should develop a working relationship with the Kansas City Terminal Railway to preserve sufficient right-of-way to accommodate additional tracks east of Union Station, so that the possibility of additional rail access (freight and passenger) to the Union Station area is not further compromised.

 

Posted in County Transit Authority, Local Transit Issues, Rail, Regional Transit Issue, Transit Studies | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Mayoral Streetcar Governance Committee Holds First Meeting

Posted by Transit Action Network on May 30, 2012


Transit Action Network attended the first meeting of the Mayoral Streetcar Governance Committee today. The purpose of the committee is to create the governance framework for the streetcar system. Given this objective the committee is charged with working through the long-term issues having to do with construction and operation of the streetcar.

The target date for completion of recommendations is July 15th.

A “template” for such a governance structure was presented as a point of departure for discussion.

It conceives of four entities that would be involved in the construction and operation of the system:

        1. The Transportation Development District would collect the tax revenue and distribute it to the city.

        2. The City would own the system and be responsible for construction and for any future capital expenditures.

        3. The “governance authority” would be a “not for profit corporation” that would oversee operation and maintenance of the system, including selecting and contracting with an operator.

        4. The operator would be responsible for the day-to-day operation of the system.

The relationships between the first three entities would be defined by statute and by contract (subject to bond indentures); and would supersede changes in the Mayor’s office, the City Council and the staffs of any single organization.

The composition of the Mayoral Streetcar Governance Committee is as follows:

Non-voting Chair: Warren Erdman

Unaffiliated Owners of Commercial Property: Jon Copaken, Jane Chu, Mike Hagedorn, Tom McGee, Suzie Aron

Unaffiliated Owners of Residential Property: Tom Trabon, Dana Gibson

Owner/Occupant of Residential Property: David Johnson

Council members:  Russ Johnson, Jim Glover, Jan Marcason

Representative of the Mayor’s Office: John McGurk

Kansas City’s Chief Financial Officer: Randy Landes

City Director of Public Works: Sherri McIntyre

At the next meeting Members will hear an overview of peer streetcar systems governance structures presented by HDR.

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Consultant Discusses the Preliminary Costs, Ridership and Time-Savings Estimates For The JCCCAA

Posted by Transit Action Network on May 29, 2012


Lisa Koch, senior planner with Parsons Brinckerhoff, returns to discuss the Jackson County Corridor Alternatives Analysis (JCCCAA). Parsons Brinckerhoff released the first wave of quantitative information about the study at an open house the end of April. Lisa brings us up-to-date with the study and why several of the alternatives have been eliminated including the original Regional Rapid Rail commuter rail proposal. That alternative used existing rail right-of-ways in the east and southeast of the county and new track on city streets, including Truman Road, to terminate at the Freight House District, north of Union Station.

Click to Enlarge

Lisa describes the replacement commuter rail proposal, which terminates in the Third and Grand area. She provides information about the remaining alternatives in both the East (I-70) Corridor and the Southeast Corridor (the unused Rock Island right-of-way). For these preliminary estimates, Lisa comments on the high costs, low ridership numbers and the fact that the fixed guideway alternatives don’t provide any time savings over the highways by 2035.

Lisa describes the “right-sizing “ efforts the team is making to fine-tune the alternatives based on what they have learned.  When the alternatives have been revised, the partnership team, consisting of Jackson County, Kansas City, KCATA and MARC, will decide on a Locally Preferred Alternative, (LPA).

At the end of the interview Lisa discusses the economic development numbers for the rail alternative that were presented at the open house. MARC estimated these numbers as a 10% increase on the assessment value of existing properties within a ½ mile radius of the proposed rail stations.

Using property appreciation as a proxy for development around rail stations is a common methodology. This is not an estimate of the impact on jobs or sales tax revenue, but rather the appreciation benefits that existing property owners might see if their property is near a station. It does not represent a net benefit. It does not take into account decreases in property values commonly experienced by property owners between stations and by upper bracket residences near a rail line.

There are also concerns that rail does not create development, it merely moves development from one area to another, next to a rail line. There are some conditions in which appreciation does not occur, in particular, in areas with unlimited ability to sprawl. Property appreciation can be very large – or zero, depending on the circumstances.

TAN believes it is desirable to concentrate activity around stations of any type, bus or rail. Areas with transit-oriented (not created) development are highly desirable, exciting, well-integrated places to work, live, shop and play that make transit investments more cost-effective.  However, after the initial construction investment, successful economic development relies on many factors besides having a station.

For a better understanding of economic development related to property appreciation for transit, read this report by the National Association of Realtors.

Public Transit Boosts Property Values, If Conditions are Right

To view the display boards for the third open house, go to the project website, KCSmartMoves.

Transit Action Network previously reported on the JCCCAA Open House #3.  Read our evaluation of the current information: High Cost Combined with Low Ridership and Insignificant Time-Savings Hurts Rail in the Commuter Corridors Study

To follow the whole study, see the rest of our video series at TAN Videos on our website. The third interview discusses the DMU rail lines east of I-435.

Link to the first interview: MARC And Parsons Brinckerhoff Discuss The Current Status Of The Commuter Corridors Altenatives Analysis

Link to the second interview: Parsons Brinckerhoff Consultant Discusses Three Alternatives In The JCCCAA

Link to the third interview: Discussion About The Regional Rail Alternative for the JCCCAA

Link to the fourth interview: Enhanced Streetcar/DMU/BRT Combinations Are Discussed

Posted in Local Transit Issues, Rail, Regional Transit Issue, Transit Studies, Videos-Transit | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Watch the “KC Streetcar Stroll” Video, Attend the Public Meetings & Request Your Streetcar Ballot

Posted by Transit Action Network on May 12, 2012


Kansas City conducted a “Streetcar Stroll” from the River Market to Union Station on May 9th.  About 35 participants were divided into small groups to walk the proposed 2.2 mile route with a guide to describe the proposed station areas and explain the proposed operating method for the streetcar. Video: Part 1 – Interviews with participants. Part 2 – Descriptions of the stations and the operations.

The city is holding three public meetings to explain the streetcar operation and answer questions. Kansas City wants voters in the proposed Transportation Development District (TDD) to understand the project.

TDD Map – Click to Enlarge

The public meetings are from 4-7 p.m with brief presentations at 4:30, 5:30 and 6:30 pm.

Tuesday, May 15, Helzburg Auditorium, Central Library, 14 W. 10th Street

Wednesday, May 16, Atrium, Steamboat Arabia Museum, 400 Grand Boulevard

Thursday, May 17, Arthur Stilwell Room, Union Station, 30 W. Pershing Road

The initial ballot to create the TDD is a mail-in ballot, but you MUST request a ballot by May 22. No Request=No Ballot. So if you live in the proposed TDD, request your ballot today! Ballot requests will be available at the public meetings. Remind your transit friends in the proposed TDD to submit their ballot request.

1. Print the ballot application at http://www.16thcircuit.org/streetcar

2. Print your registration status kceb.org (Use the check your voter status box at the top of the page. This document is used to validate you request.)

3. Send (hand-deliver, fax, mail) both documents to the court address (or fax number) on the application.

Posted in Action, Events, Local Transit Issues, Rail, Videos-Transit | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

 
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