Transit Action Network (TAN)

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

Posts Tagged ‘MARC’

Transit Talk June 9 – Solving Our Inability To Get to Jobs by Transit on 90.1FM KKFI

Posted by Transit Action Network on June 8, 2015


KKFI 90.1 FMWhy can’t we get to 82% of the jobs in the Kansas City region by transit and what are we doing to improve the situation?

In 2012, a nationwide report by The Brookings Institution evaluated 100 cities and the ability to get to work by transit within a 90-minute window. Kansas City came out 94th of 100 and Brookings reported that we could only get to 18% of the jobs in the region within that 90-minute timeframe. So what are we doing about it?

Find out on Transit Talk when we look at the region’s new effort to increase access to jobs by transit.KCATA

When: Tuesday June 9th at 6 pm

Where: 90.1FM KKFI Kansas City Community Radio on RadioActive Magazine

Listen to the Podcast

The show starts with an edited clip from a May 14th discussion on KKFI’s Show “Tell Somebody” between Lou Austin, Chairman of 3 Trails Village Community Improvement District (CID) and Janet Rogers of Transit Action Network about equity concerns related to our lack of access to jobs by transit. After that, host Janet Rogers speaks with Karen Clawson, Transportation Planner for Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) and Chuck Ferguson, Chief Planning Officer at Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) to discuss how MARC and KCATA are dealing with the situation quantified by Brookings.marclogo

A federal planning grant was received by MARC to help the region deal with this issue.

 Region receives $1.2 million TIGER grant from U.S. DOT

Planning grant will focus on improving transit access to employment centers

Our next Transit Talk on RadioActive Magazine is July 7th.

Posted in Events, Local Transit Issues, Regional Transit Issue | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Transit Talk May 14 Transit Equity Issues In Our KC Region – 90.1FM KKFI

Posted by Transit Action Network on May 13, 2015


KKFI 90.1 FMLou Austin, Chairman of 3 Trails Village CID, and Janet Rogers of Transit Action Network discuss Transit Equity issues in the Kansas City region.

When: Thursday, May 14 from 9 am -10 am

Where: ”Tell Somebody” on 90.1FM KKFI Kansas City Community Radio

Listen to the Podcast. Transit Talk is the last 15 minutes. Starts at 44:54

RadioActive Magazine hosts are filling in for Tom Klammer this week with a magazine show. TAN’s Transit Talk is one of the segments.

We discuss areas of concern over Mid-America Regional Council’s Long-Term Transportation Plan, Transportation Outlook 2040, which covers equity, transit access to jobs, and Environmental Justice issues.

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Attend Transit Stakeholder Forum March 19

Posted by Transit Action Network on March 17, 2015


KCATAMARC and KCATA are holding the next Transit Stakeholder Forum on March 19.

When: Thursday, March 19 @ 5–6:30 p.m.
Where: Mid-America Regional Councilmarclogo
600 Broadway, Suite 200, Kansas City, MO 64105

Agenda items:

Review feedback received at the last meeting and online for “the future of SmartMoves”

Goals of the long-range transit vision update and RideKC Workforce Connex, the TIGER VI planning project that proposes to increase the access to employment by transit over the next ten years, will be presented. Forum participants will provide feedback on the direction of this work. Your feedback will be used to develop the final scope of work to be carried out by qualified consultants.

Open dialogue with transit providers about current transit issues that participants would like to address

Please join the conversation!Transit_Stakeholder_Fourm-2

Metro Routes: www.kcata.org
The JO Routes: http://www.jocogov.org/dept/transit/home
“The Transit Stakeholder Forum is a public meeting where you can provide input for the Regional Transit Coordinating Council — a committee that advises MARC, the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority and local transit partners and jurisdictions on issues such as regional transit planning, priorities, coordination and implementation.”

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Transit Talk Jan 6 – Your Civil Rights and Transit on 90.1 FM KKFI

Posted by Transit Action Network on January 5, 2015


KKFI 90.1 FMWhat are your Civil Rights related to Transit and how do you protect them? What is Environmental Justice? How do you recognize when your Transit Civil Rights are violated and what can you do to remedy the situation?

Find out on RadioActive Magazine on Transit Talk as we discuss the major Civil Rights issues related to transit.

When: Tuesday, January 6 at 6 PM

Where: 90.1FM KKFI Kansas City Community Radio on Radio Active Magazine

Listen to Podcast  Transit, Civil Rights & Environmental Justice

Host Janet Rogers of Transit Action Network speaks by phone with Marc Brenman, a retired senior policy advisor for Civil Rights in the office of the U. S. Secretary of Transportation about how Civil Rights and Environmental Justice relate to transit. Marc currently writes, teaches and consults on human rights issues.

The issues in Ferguson and New York City the last few months reminded us how important it is to understand our Civil Rights, including those related to transit and transportation. In 2012 TAN filed a Title VI Civil Rights claim against Johnson County Transit*. Marc Brenman provided guidance and taught us a lot about this law.

FTA guidelines:

FTA guidelines on Title VI of the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 and how it affects transit. Title_VI_of_the_Civil_RIghts_Act_of_1964

 “No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal Financial assistance.”   –42 U.S.C. Section 2000d

FTA guidelines on Environmental Justice from Presidential Executive Order 12898

FTA_EJ_Circular_7.14-12_FINAL

The guiding EJ principles followed by DOT and FTA are briefly summarized as follows:

 Guiding Environmental Justice Principles

• To avoid, minimize, or mitigate disproportionately high and adverse human health and environmental effects, including social and economic effects, on minority populations and low-income populations.

• To ensure the full and fair participation by all potentially affected communities in the transportation decision-making process.

• To prevent the denial of, reduction in, or significant delay in the receipt of benefits by minority and low-income populations.

You should consider these goals of environmental justice throughout transportation planning and project development, and through all public outreach and participation efforts conducted by FTA, its grantees and sub grantees. 

We will discuss numerous examples of transit civil rights violations, explain how the FTA works to remedy the situation, and what to do if you think there is a local violation.

Background:

*Title VI Claim Filed Against Johnson County Transit  Transit Action Network filed this claim in 2012 due to our view of JCT’s inadequate public outreach to minority and low-income communities related to service cuts in January 2013. We included additional informational in the claim to make the FTA aware of numerous concerns we had, since severe service cuts were projected for 2014 or 2015 due to financial shortfalls. Luckily, those additional service cuts haven’t happened. Chuck Ferguson, who was Deputy Transportation Director for JCT,  said the cuts weren’t needed since the transit agency made efficiency improvements. In addition, KCATA allocated significantly more federal formula funds to JCT than they previously received and Johnson County expects large cost savings by changing management from JCT to KCATA.

Please contact Transit Action Network at TransActionKC@gmail.com if you have questions about this issue.

 

Posted in Local Transit Issues, National Transit Issues, Regional Transit Issue | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

2014: Transit in the Kansas City Region – What happened?

Posted by Transit Action Network on January 2, 2015


2014 was a busy transit year and it is fun to look back to see some of the main stories and think about the future. Links to some of our related posts are included. If you want to get actively involved in on-going transit issues, contact us at TransActionKC@gmail.com or attend our first meeting of 2015 at Noon on January 9th at the KC Central Library at 10th and Baltimore.

1. The Downtown Streetcar

The Downtown Streetcar construction got underway in May and is about one-third complete at year end. Check out KCStreetcar.com for updates. streetcar

Tom Gerend, previously the Assistant Director of Transportation at MARC, was named the Executive Director for the Streetcar Authority.

Please support the businesses along the route. Lunch Mobs are being organized to help these businesses. Check out @kcstreetcar @tacticalurbankc

2. The Streetcar expansion

Kansas City’s August election for three streetcar expansion routes (Independence Avenue, Linwood and Main Street) would have added an additional 7.6 miles to the Downtown Streetcar for a total of 9.8 miles. The Prospect MAX recommendation was 9.1 miles long. Streetcar Steering Committee Releases Recommendations and Draft Report   The proposal lost 60%-40%.  Video – KC Streetcar Expansion Election Watch and Mayor’s Speech

Next_RailRead the final Next Rail report if you aren’t familiar with the Main Street expansion to the Plaza. If the city comes up with a good funding plan, the expansion to the Plaza may be seen again in a couple of years. Next Rail final expansion recommendation

3. KCMO continues to withhold $2.5 million from KCATAKCATA_2014-2015_KCMO_budget

Although the Kansas City budgeted 95% of the revenue from the ½ cent Transportation Sales Tax to KCATA based on an ordinance TAN initiated in 2010 (it was updated in 2013), the city is withholding $2.5 million from KCATA and causing KCATA’s reserve account to deplete even faster, which is ironic since the city says it is concerned that the KCATA reserve account will deplete itself before 2022; currently estimated to run out in 2018. The city is over $5 million short in its payments to KCAT̄A this year caused by the combination of insufficient sales tax revenue and the additional amount being withheld. KCATA expects the city to short them $5.4 million in 2015.

TAN hopes KCMO pays its bills to the best of its ability by the end of this fiscal year, April 30, 2015. The city administrator is holding the money in case he decides to start out-sourcing part of the bus system to save money. More in 2015.

4. KCATAKCATA

KCATA is working on a comprehensive service analysis to re-design transit downtown.  Attend Public Meetings – Redesigning Downtown KC Transit – July 17 and Downtown Service Improvement Concept 

Map Of Downtown Concept

Map Of Downtown Concept

KCATA continued it re-organization A New Vision for KCATA  and KCATA General Manager Mark E. Huffer Resigns   KCATA is currently looking to fill a new CEO position.

The year ended with KCATA Board of Commissioners re-electing Robbie Makinen for another year as Chair since the reorganization for KCATA isn’t finished and Makinen is doing such a great job pushing the agenda forward. Congratulations! Robbie Makinen Elected KCATA Chair Again 

5. TAN RADIO

Transit Action Network started a semi-regular “Transit Talk” show on 90.1 FM KKFI Kansas City Community Radio on the Radio Active Magazine show. This magazine show has numerous activist groups taking turns to inform the community on various issues. TAN Radio archive of previous shows  Interviews covered conversion to CNG buses, a MAX line for Prospect Ave, the KC Streetcar/MAX election ballot, the MO Amendment 7 election, Special Transportation issues, our inability to pay for most rail projects (like rail to the airport), and a talk with Robbie Makinen about changes at KCATA.

KKFI operates a 100,000-watt transmitter, the most powerful allowed by FCC regulations.

KKFI operates a 100,000-watt transmitter, the most powerful allowed by FCC regulations.

The next show is Jan 6 at 6pm on 90.1 FM KKFI – Your Civil Rights Related To Transit – What are they and how to protect them!

6. Sense or Nonsense –New TAN series

Sense or Nonsense? Streetcars and Increased Property Values Sense or Nonsense? Does rail increase property values? MAKES SENSE

 Sense or Nonsense? Streetcars and Development  Only light rail systems generate development. NOT SO.

 7. New TAXI style services in KCMO

The KCMO city council started the year by changing the taxi ordinance to allow Independent Transportation Network® (ITN), a non-profit charitable organization to operate a vehicle for hire to transport persons who are 65 years of age or older or visually impaired. Action Alert: KCMO – Please Allow A New Transit Service For The Elderly and Visually Impaired 

Uber and Lyft, App driven ride-sharing services, arrived in KC. Uber received a license to operate, but Lfyt is having legal problems.

REGIONAL TRANSIT ISSUES

It is important to remember that we need better transit throughout the whole region.

A. Regional Transit Coordinating Council (RTCC)Transit_Coordinating_Council-2

  1. The RTCC decided to tackle tough issues: RTCC Tackles Big Transit Issues – Funding and Paratransit 

RTCC requested and received more money for transit projects from allocations of federal money (STP and CMAQ) than has ever been granted, including $10 million allocated for Jackson County purchasing the old Rock Island line and two additional railway spurs from Union Pacific.

  1. There are two groups to advise RTCC: Transit Stakeholder Forum (TSF) and the Mobility Advisory Committee (MAC).Transit_Stakeholder_Fourm-2

The TSF is totally open to the public, vague, and doesn’t have members or regular meetings.

We understand that allowing everyone to participate is a new concept at MARC and KCATA, but we think this one needs more work. The forum is very top down and is doesn’t meet regularly like MAC, which meets every other month.

  • Why wasn’t TSF asked for input on the RTCC 2015 workplan? It got to comment on the 2014 plan.
  • When transit projects were developed and prioritized by RTCC for STP and CMAQ funding, the TSF didn’t even get to look at them. (MAC got to prioritize $6 million in funding requests and actually function like an advisory committee-see below)
  • Why isn’t there time for riders to address their issues with the transit agencies?
  • When will TSF function more like a substantive advisory committee?Mobility_AC

MAC, on the other hand, has had only had two meetings, but they are developing a very large membership with voting rights, and they have already recommended a multi-million dollar list of projects to RTCC for allocating 5310 federal funds for paratransit/senior capital and operating money. True, MAC is basically reconvened from the old Special Transportation/JARC Committee at MARC, so they are bringing in the same people as before and expanding.

Mobility Advisory Committee Meets Dec 10

  1. RTCC is leading a regional branding effort that will be rolled out in 2015: RideKC.

B. Seamless Transit Advocacy

Transit Action Network believes the transit system should function in a seamless fashion so that it appears to be run by one agency. We are pleased that the seamless transit concept continues to gain steam. Besides our list of specific seamless transit suggestions Seamless Transit In the Kansas City Region, we advocate for the election of transit friendly public officials and encourage municipalities to return to KCATA for management or management/ operations, which provides the best opportunity for eliminating barriers between the transit systems (The barriers aren’t due to the jurisdictional BORDERS; the problems are caused by operational and infrastructure differences between the transit agencies)

  1. Johnson County

JoCo was in the spotlight at the end of the year with a big county election and a decision to return transit management of The JO and Special Edition to KCATA after 30 years.Johnson County

Online Transit Forum – Candidates for Johnson County Commission 

Big Win for Seamless Transit – The JO Returns to KCATA 

  1. Wyandotte County and Independence

UG logoDuring the year TAN met with Mayor Weir of Independence, Mayor Holland of Unified Government of Wyandotte County and several UG commissioners. Although we advocated for a wide range of transit issues, including better seamless transit, our main thrust was to encourage both entities to bring the rest of their transit service under the management or management/operations of the re-organized KCATA, like Johnson County recently decided. We hear rumblings that this process might start.inde log

  1. Jackson County

Jackson County reached an agreement with Union Pacific for an “option to purchase” the Rock Island right of way plus two spurs for $59.9 million. Jackson County Option to Purchase press release. The agreement has been extended to Sept 2015. Although the County has received $10 million from a federal grant (see RTCC), the County still needs another $50 million for the purchase and that money isn’t easy to come by.

Jackson_County_seal-2This corridor will make a great addition to the Katy Trail, but it showed extremely low ridership for commuter rail in the Jackson County Alternatives Analysis. Ridership between 500 and 1000 trips per day were projected and the line would not qualify for FTA New Starts money at this point. (The Prospect bus has over 6,000 trips daily and it isn’t even a MAX line.)

During 2014 TAN made presentations on financing alternatives for commuter rail and the purchase of the Rock Island property to Jackson County officials. Discussions are continuing.

  1. Unified Government New Transit Route #105 and Bigger Buses to #101

Mayor Holland promised TAN to provide bigger buses to alleviate crowding once the #101 became the new CONNEX service. The improved service went into effect in January 2014. State Ave. CONNEX Gets Big Buses Jan 5

Erin, Carol, Carroll and Rachel conducting the Rosedale Transit Survey

Erin, Carol, Carroll and Rachel conducting the Rosedale Transit Survey

The Rosedale Development Association and the KCK community, along with TAN, secured the new Rosedale Route #105. Event: Opening of 105-Rosedale Route June 30 

  1. C. Environmental Justice Analysis and Tiger Grant

TAN has been in discussions with MARC staff about changes to their Environmental Justice Analysis, which studies how federal transportation money is spent in the region relative to minorities and low-income populations.

The Brookings Institution found that only 18 percent of jobs in the KC region are reachable via transit in 90 minutes or less — ranking the Kansas City region 90th of the 100 largest metros. From a civil rights perspective, we may not be meeting the needs of minorities and low-income populations to get to work by transit. With such a low rate, we  probably aren’t meeting the transit needs of the whole community. Meeting the needs of minorities and low-income populations should be included upfront in any assessment for transportation planning.

MARC received a $1.2 million TIGER planning grant to STUDY the situation. The goal of KC Workforce Connex is doubling transit access to jobs over the next 10 years. A major study area will be along the I-435 corridor between the new Cerner campus and I-35 in Johnson County, which includes the busiest commuter corridor in the region, yet doesn’t have any transit.

D. MO Sales Tax For Transportation Failed

Transit Action Network believes Missouri shouldn’t pass a constitutional amendment to radically change the way we pay for roads and bridgesVotenoon 7 billboard

We spent several months working against this ballot initiative of a 3/4-cent sales tax for transportation, so we were pleased when it failed in August.

Video, Podcasts, Cartoon – VOTE NO On MO Amendment 7 

However, the funding issue for roads isn’t resolved. Raising the gas/diesel taxes is the easiest and cheapest method to administer and probably the smartest option, but Governor Nixon has asked for a study to investigate tolling on I-70. That starts 2015.

Happy New Year and join us in advocating for better transit in our region.

 

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

Are Autonomous Vehicles in the LRTP?

Posted by Transit Action Network on December 10, 2014


ENOThis week Mark McDowell, Kansas City financial consultant and Transit Action Network advocate, published an article in Eno Institute for Transportation Policy: Time for Autonomous Vehicles to Disrupt Transportation Planning 

McDowell’s paper considers the impact Autonomous Vehicles (AV) will have on the demand for infrastructure and the effects on suburban sprawl, urban parking needs, inter-city transportation, public transit and paratrasnit in the near future.

He makes the case that Autonomous Vehicles should be included in local transportation planning since these driverless vehicles will create a huge change to our transportation system in the current timeframe of the Long Range Transportation Plans (LRTP) prepared by Metropolitan Planning Organizations, like Mid-America Regional Council (MARC).marclogo

MARC is currently updating Transportation Outlook 2040, our LRTP. The plan deals with our regional transportation plans for the next 25 years. AV’s already exist and are being used in some places. Is MARC sticking with the status quo or including the affects of Autonomous Vehicles? If AV’s don’t get included in the LRTP then McDowell says “ we are designing infrastructure for yesterday instead of tomorrow.”

Transit Action Network doesn’t have a crystal ball to see the full impact of AV’s over the next 25 years, but 25 years ago very few people had a personal computer, and smartphones weren’t designed yet.  It may be unwise to bury our heads in the sand and continue to make transportation and funding decisions for the next 25 years without considering the impact of disruptive technologies like Autonomous Vehicles.

Posted in Local Transit Issues, Regional Transit Issue | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Transit Talk Oct 14 – A Dose of Reality – KKFI 90.1FM‏

Posted by Transit Action Network on October 13, 2014


KKFI 90.1 FM

Why does the Kansas City region fail to qualify for significant federal dollars for most large rail projects, including going to the airport? Why can’t Kansas City pay for most big rail projects by itself? What should we do to change the situation?

A Dose of Reality: Challenges in paying for rail transit in the Kansas City region.

When: Tuesday October 14, 2014 @ 6 PM
Where: Transit Talk on RadioActive Magazine on 90.1 FM KKFI Kansas City Community Radio
Listen to the podcast of the show

Janet Rogers, co-founder of Transit Action Network talks with Mark McDowell, a specialist in Finance, a long-term transit advocate who works closely with Transit Action Network, and founding member and past Chair of the Kansas City Regional Transit Alliance, and Dick Jarrold, Vice-President of Regional Planning and Development at KCATA and former Regional Engineer for the Federal Transit Administration during the design and construction of the initial St. Louis MetroLink project.

Background:

Kansas City encounters two major areas of difficulty in paying for rail projects (NOT including voters reluctance to pass elections for funding these projects)

A. Qualifying for Federal matching dollars.

Most cities use federal dollars to help pay for very expensive rail projects.

New Starts –This grant program is the major source of federal funding for rail transit projects. The federal match for rail has shrunken from a norm of 80% down to 50% or less due to lack of federal funding and competition from numerous cities building and expanding rail systems.

  • To qualify for funding, the program requires projects to receive at least an overall medium rating in the FTA evaluation process.
  • According to Shawn Dykes, transit consultant with Parsons Brinckeroff, the most important number in the  project justification analysis for federal funding is cost-effectiveness or annual cost per rider. The FTA is not funding any projects that don’t rate at least medium in Cost Effectiveness. Currently that requires an annual cost/rider number of less than $10 per rider (or trip).

Cost_Effectiveness-11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since costs for building streetcars (about $50 million per mile) or light rail (about $60-$70 million per mile) are relatively consistent around the country, the difference in cost-effectiveness for projects is mainly related to the ridership numbers.

Population Densityridership numbers are strongly related to the population density around a proposed rail project. Lack of density in the whole city is immaterial – the evaluation is only concerned about the population within 1 mile of the proposed track.

  • The Kansas City region has good population density in several transit corridors, such as: downtown corridor from River Market to the Plaza, along Independence Ave, 31st Street/Linwood, Prospect Ave, and State Avenue in KCK.
  • There are no well-established high-density transit corridors in Eastern Jackson County or to the airport (No transit corridor has really even been developed to the airport). Therefore, studies show very poor ridership projections for these areas.
  • Calculating projected ridership numbers starts with the current bus ridership in the transit corridor. Neither Eastern Jackson County nor any path to the airport has significant bus ridership to create a good base for rail ridership projections. Getting large ridership numbers between the airport and downtown depends on large numbers of daily riders, like commuters, not the occasional bump from 5 to 10 large conventions.
  • Commuter rail from Eastern Jackson County into Kansas City or light rail to the airport do not qualify for the FTA medium rating for cost-effectiveness (cost/rider under $10) and therefore fail the first hurdle in receiving federal New Starts funding.

TIGER Grant– Kansas City has done very well receiving TIGER grants, another source of federal funding. However, they are limited to about $20 million dollars. This amount is great for small projects like the two-mile downtown streetcar, but it doesn’t have a significant impact on a billion dollar project like light rail to the airport.

B. Generating local revenue for rail projects

Rail projects are very expensive. Most cities can’t pay for large projects themselves and need a federal match. Small starter lines, like the Downtown Streetcar, are often paid for locally.

Kansas City has a very hard time getting any rail projects approved by voters. Even if the voters approve a rail project, Kansas City struggles to generate enough money to pay for the project.

Building a rail line is just like building a new house.  You have to borrow the money and pay off a house mortgage or in the case of rail, pay off bonds.

You can only build a house that you can afford to pay off the monthly mortgage. If you only make $30,000 a year, you aren’t going to build a $400,000 house. You can’t afford the monthly/yearly payment.

Building rail has the same cash flow problem. The city borrows the money and issues bonds, then they have to be able to pay the yearly bond payments, usually though tax collections.

Revenue Capacity Kansas City’s revenue generation is  too low in many cases to meet the bond payments for large rail projects, even if the feds pay half the project cost.  The streetcar expansion project required half the money from federal grants, yet the proposed Transportation Development District would not generate all of the money for the other half. If the proposal had passed, the city had to close the funding gap through other methods or shorten the routes.  

What about paying for light rail to the airport? Kansas City definitely can’t pay for light rail to the airport at this point in time.

Light rail to the airport: 17 miles at the low-end of cost, $60 million per mile, is $1.020 billion – plus add the cost of upgrading or building a new bridge and yearly operating and maintenance costs. Depending on the terms of the bond issue the yearly bond payment may easily range from $70 million to $90 million.

A city-wide 3/8 percent sales tax, like the sum of the two ballot measures on the Nov 4 ballot, will only generate about $27 million annually. Kansas City can’t pay for light rail to the airport by itself and the route won’t qualify for New Starts federal funding at this point. The cost/rider number to the airport is way over $10 per person. (high cost/low ridership)

Using a TDD for local funding:

In a Transportation Development District, the people who benefit from the transit are the ones voting. The district is usually smaller than a city-wide vote so the tax rates will be significantly higher in order to generate enough money to pay for rail. This model was successful for the Downtown Streetcar.

A Step in the Right Direction:

In order to qualify for federal matching funds, we need to develop high-density, mixed use corridors with great bus service. In order to do so the City needs to highly incentivize projects in those corridors. Create great mixed use, higher density, transit corridors that attract people and business, then let them grow so that ridership will qualify for federal matching dollars and they will have the revenue density necessary to fund rail projects.

When there are large rail studies, petition initiatives or votes for rail projects, people need to ask about the FTA cost-effectiveness number and the overall rating for receiving federal New Starts funding.  This is the first hurdle to getting significant federal matching funds. If the project won’t come close to even qualifying for New Starts funding, ask if we can we pay for it ourselves with sales and property taxes and then ask if we want to.

Our next RadioActive Magazine Transit Talk is November 18th at 6 pm on 90.1FM KKFI Kansas City Community Radio.

 

Posted in Events, Local Transit Issues, Rail, Regional Transit Issue | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Transit Talk July 22- Not All Taxes are Created Equal – Vote No On Amendment 7

Posted by Transit Action Network on July 22, 2014


KKFI 90.1 FMTransit Action Network discusses the Missouri 10-year 3/4 percent Amendment 7 Transportation Sales Tax on KKFI 90.1 FM Community Radio with public policy specialist and transit advocate Sheila Styron of the Whole Person, Linda Smith, President of the League of Women Voters and David Kingsley, retired statistics professor from the department of health policy & management at Kansas University Medical Center.

When Tuesday, July 22 at 6 pm

Where: KKFI 90.1 FM Community Radio, Radio Active Magazine (They also stream live) KKFI.org

Podcast of show: http://content.blubrry.com/kkfi901fm/RadioActive_Magazine_2014-07-22.mp3 (Correction: The widening of Interstate 70 across Missouri remains the most expensive item in the project list. It would receive $500 million (not $500,000) from this tax, with the rest of the $1.5 billion cost coming from existing revenue sources.

HJR 68 Full text of bill, which is both a sales and use tax increase and on the Aug 5th ballot. HJR68

Not all taxes are created equal. The idea that we should pay for roads based on how much we shop rather than how much we drive is a radical change on how we pay for roads and bridges. Find out why you should Vote No on this state sales tax for transportation.

Anyone wondering why this sales tax is a constitutional amendment needs to understand that the state is really trying to change the way we pay for road work, by pushing the tax  burden onto  middle and low-income individuals, working families and seniors, instead of the main users of roads, the trucking industry.  Currently Section 30 of the Missouri Constitution states clearly that transportation projects are to be paid for with gas taxes, sales taxes on vehicle purchases, and vehicle license fees.

Why don’t we raise the fuel taxes since Missouri has had this level since 1996?

fuel taxes

Changing to a sales tax gives the trucking industry a free ride even though they use the roads the most and do the most damage. Trucking corporations don’t even pay a sales tax when they purchase a truck in Missouri since they have an exemption. In addition, the heavy construction industry has lobbied heavily for this bill since it would continue the unprecedented amount of roadwork MoDOT has been doing using federal stimulus money.

This is the largest tax increase in Missouri history, $6.1 billion dollars, and the Missouri sales tax will rise 18% from 4.225% to 4.975%. Total state and local taxes will be over 11% in many places. This combined rate is already 14th highest in the nation and this increase will put us 9th in the nation (ahead of Illinois and just behind New York and California).NO ON 7

We agree with Governor Nixon in our opposition to this bill and  “on the need for a robust discussion about Missouri’s long-term transportation infrastructure needs.”  Governor’s position https://governor.mo.gov/news/archive/gov-nixon-issues-statement-transportation-tax

Missourians for Better Transportation Solutions, www.votenoamendment7.com, which we joined for this effort, along with over 40 groups and individuals, put together a list of reasons to vote against the bill.

Reasons to Vote No On Amendment 7

Summary from this document

  • The tax unfair – Trucking Industry gets a free ride
  • The tax is excessive – largest increase in our history
  • This is the wrong investment for Missouri – The recent binge in highway construction hasn’t created significant economic development
  • Amendment 7 is bad for Missouri Investment – total combined sales tax will be above 10% many places creating further incentive for internet purchases and a lost of revenue for local businesses.

One reason to be against Amendment 7 we rarely see mentioned is how bad it is for cities and counties. Although the state has multiple taxing methods it can use to pay for needs, cities don’t, and adding a ¾ percent sales tax from Missouri cripples the ability of local governments to raise sales taxes for local needs, like police and fire departments. In fact, politicians and planning agencies all over the state rejected this idea of a sales tax for roads earlier this year, when lobbied to support an initiative petition to do this same thing.  After being rejected statewide, the lobbyists convinced our elected officials in Jeff City to put this sales tax on the ballot anyway.

Good articles explaining why you should VOTE NO ON 7

Terry Garney ‘s article in the Columbia Daily Tribune addresses the “radical departure from the way Missouri pays for roads.”

“ The amendment would make Missouri’s average combined state and local sales tax rates among the highest in the nation, exceeding 11 percent in some areas. The statewide average would be ninth-highest in the nation.”   http://bit.ly/1qt5oeY

***

Jim Fitzpatrick in Kansas City has published two insightful blogs about the campaign http://bit.ly/1qwrqxt and http://bit.ly/1mhAduT

“This time, I’m sorry to say, Freedom Inc. sold out to the Heavy Constructors, commonly called “the heavies.” They’re called that for more than the obvious contraction of their name. They bring a lot of political pressure to bear in any number of places, including the Missouri General Assembly, which voted to put Amendment 7 on the ballot.”

“That (gas) tax has stood at 17 cents a gallon – sixth lowest in the nation as of last year — since 1996, or almost 20 years. If the Missouri General Assembly and the “concrete cartel” (essentially, the heavy constructors, the engineering companies and the materials suppliers) want to raise more money for transportation needs, they should come back to us with a proposal to raise the gas tax.”

***

The Show-Me Institute has written an op-ed about why they are against Amendment 7. The Southeast Missourian ran a version of it http://bit.ly/UkMyHO. Someone remarked that it is rare when Governor Nixon and the Show-Me Institute agree on something.

Anticipating the funding bonanza, local governments around the state have put forward wish lists that would tap into sales tax money. Rather than confining themselves to critical transportation needs, cities and counties put forward lists filled with expensive wants.”

“Paying for highways based on how much people shop, and not how much they drive, creates a free-rider problem. It promotes congestion, road degradation, and sprawl. It also is fundamentally unfair to force occasional drivers to pay as much or more for new roads as interstate trucking companies.”

***

Good Roads MO (http://www.goodroadsformo.org/) continues to have good information on their website.

“This new tax would again divert sales taxes to rural areas while most of the taxes are paid by urban Missourians. The distribution of the tax to local governments is heavily weighted based on rural land value.

“Missouri’s combined state and local sales tax rates are already the 14th highest in the country. Should Amendment 7 be approved, Missouri will have the 9th highest sales tax rate in the nation (ahead of states like Illinois, just behind states like New York and California). ”

***

Transit Action Network supports well-maintained and safe roads and bridges, good transit and bike and pedestrian facilities, but we reject paying for them with a huge sales tax increase.  Not only is a sales tax the WRONG Tax for paying for roads and bridges but are all of the projects really needed?

Just because MoDOT and regional planners had a feeding frenzy piling on projects, doesn’t mean all the projects are needed or should be paid for at the state level. For instance, vehicle traffic on I-70 is down 9% from its peak in 2005-2006.  Do we really need to subsidize the trucking industry so they can have 6 lanes across rural Missouri? Afterall, the trucking industry will pay next to nothing for all this roadwork if we pass this sales tax. Instead the tax burden will fall on middle and lowe-income individuals.

Although we can’t speak for the project lists from the rest of the regions, we feel the transit portion of the Kansas City region was hijacked.

Here is how MoDOT explained the process to choose projects.

“After incredible feedback from Missourians across the state, MoDOT and planning partners (Mid-America Regional Council – MARC in the KC region) have finalized a list of regional and community priorities that would be completed if Amendment 7 were to pass. Each region’s list of priority projects reflects the local needs as communicated by citizens and local leaders. “

However for the KC transit portion of the list, that is not what happened.

Here is the list the citizens and local leaders came up with through public meetings for  Transportation Outlook 2040 (Region’s Long-range Transportation Plan) , the Regional Transit  Coordinating Council (RTCC) and the Total Transportation Policy Committee (TTPC).Original KC_Regional_Trans_Priorities

During all three of these open and transparent meetings Kansas City had the opportunity to make the case that the Streetcar expansion was more valuable to the community than most of the projects and the streetcar should replace the vast array of projects spread around the region. They never made that case.

At RTCC, when the streetcar wasn’t even listed, KCMO asked for a token $5 million, which the group granted. Over the weekend, the city started its behind closed door campaign and got MARC to move the amount to $32 million, which is what you see on the list TTPC approved. This list was sent to MoDOT to reflect the local needs.

As MoDOT reviewed the list, they had closed-door meetings with Kansas City, and together, maybe with others, eliminated most of the original transit projects, and replaced them with $124 million for the KC Streetcar Expansion plan and reduced transit dollars from 30% to 26% with the difference going to more roads.  Many of the projects are good and need to be done with alternative funding to a sales tax,  but the region’s priorities should have been honored instead of cutting deals for support.

MoDOT’s final project list for KC region. Compare it to the original list.

http://www.modot.org/MovingForward/Regions/documents/FINALDistrictProjectList-KC.pdf

With this change, Mayor James decided to support of this unfair, unjust bill. We understand people with political power will use it, but rarely is it done in such a blatant, aggressive manner. MARC, all the other regional partners and the original transit project list were totally pushed aside and MoDOT and Kansas City  “made sure” the new list was approved at MARC.

Some specific projects that were eliminated so Kansas City could take most of the money for the streetcar expansion  

$11 million for mobility management including “Coordination of Paratransit Services (for the disabled)

$13.5 Million for “Regional/KCATA Downtown Transit Center/Super Stops (KCATA just had public meetings for this planned improvement)

Urban Corridor program (new MAX lines)

  • $16.5 million North Oak-CBD to Barry Rd or MO 152 (Northland misses out again)
  • $8.5 million Independence Ave – CBD into Eastern Jackson County

Trails

Decrease of $36 million – Purchase and construction of Rock Island ROW for the Katy trail-not enough money to pay for it now.

***

Most people who are for this bill are either connected to the construction or trucking industry, believe the projects are so important that the taxing method doesn’t matter to them, they are afraid this is the only way to get money, or they are getting a project they want so badly that they hold their nose and vote for a sales tax anyway. None of these reasons are valid reasons to saddle the whole state with a huge inappropriate, unfair tax for 10 years.

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Transit Stakeholder Forum June 26

Posted by Transit Action Network on June 24, 2014


marclogoJoin MARC, KCATA and the region’s transit operators for the next Transit Stakeholder Forum on June 26.KCATA

Willoughby Design is having a followup meeting with Stakeholders to discuss branding for our regional transit system. They have crafted a branding direction based on regional feedback. Will their guidance truly be regional or will it be city-centric?

When: Thursday, June 26
5–6:30 p.m.
Where: UMKC campus, The new Bloch Executive Hall for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Room 414
5110 Cherry St, Kansas City, MO 64110
Metro Routes: Main St. MAX, 155, Troost MAX, 25
www.kcata.org
The JO Routes: The JO Connex/556
http://www.jocogov.org/dept/transit/home

   Parking:  Metered parking is available in the Cherry Street parking garage (Level 5), a three minute walk from the Bloch Executive Hall. Parking costs $1/hour and is cash only.For a copy of the UMKC campus map, visit http://www.umkc.edu/maps/documents/volker_maps/UMKC_Volker_campus.pdfTransit_Coordinating_Council-2

The Transit Stakeholder Forum is a public meeting where you can provide input for the Regional Transit Coordinating Council

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EVENT: Insist MoDOT Publish Whole Project List with Dollars for AUG 5 Election

Posted by Transit Action Network on June 16, 2014


MOTMMoDOT is holding public comment meetings in the Kansas City region this week about projects to be paid for by Amendment 7, a 3/4 cent sales tax and 3/4 cent use tax increase for transportation, which is on the August 5 ballot.  The public is invited to attend the open house-style meetings at any time during the advertised hours to speak to regional planning partners and MoDOT representatives. No formal presentations will be made. RSVPs are not required.

At the meeting please request MoDOT to provide much better information about the project list.MOstateflag

On Friday MoDOT released a preliminary list of projects to be part of Missouri Amendment 7, in order to get public comment. The list contains projects submitted by each region as well as MoDOT’s priorities. MoDOT bundled many projects together, such as the Kansas City region’s list of transit projects, while listing out all the road projects, no matter how small. We want to see everything if we are expected to make comments.  Statewide Project List

In addition, no dollar estimates were provided so it is next to impossible to understand the priorities or the real impact. All the projects look equal and they definitely aren’t. For instance the widening of I-70 to six lanes from Independence to Wentzville is where a huge amount of the money will be spent but it is split out by region and looks just like the project next to it instead of the giant on the list. In the KC region list, it is next to increasing funding for OATS, hardly an equal sized project.

It is insulting that MoDOT expects the general public to show up and give meaningful comments based on MoDOT’s  published list.

Here is MoDOT’s version for the Kansas City region Transit/Bike /Pedestrian projects – The projects were DUMPED into a category called  VARIOUS  and it is vague, misleading and impossible to comment on.

Improvements for: public transportation, non-motorized transportation, intermodal connections and/or congestion mitigation in the Kansas City urban region

By contrast, here is the actual version of the Kansas City region’s project list with cost estimates as well as the percentage distribution between categories our region used. Roads are first but look at all the projects MoDOT dumped into this one little description for nearly everything else.

KC_Regional_Trans_Priorities

How is the public supposed to comment on the KC projects given MoDOT’s dismissive representation?  Makes you think MoDOT doesn’t really want public comment.

MODOT’s own list of projects was split up by region and buried in the different regional priority lists (with no dollar amounts), so you couldn’t see them separately. That needs to change. No one can see what the MoDOT projects are or how much money MoDOT is planning to spend per project. Therefore, MoDOT made certain the general public would have problems making informed comments on MoDOT’s priorities.

One of our biggest concerns is widening I-70 to six lanes. We are not aware of any current study saying that is necessary. In fact, vehicle miles traveled (VMT) has gone down significantly, both in Missouri and all over the country. In addition, adding lanes in the hope of curing congestion, especially when we have relatively little congestion, has been debunked decades ago. It attracts more traffic. Everyone agrees that I-70 needs to be fixed and safety measures added, such as improving the shoulders to modern standards, but that is a far smaller project than adding a lane in each direction.  

MoDOT’s presentation of the projects certainly make it easy to stifle public discourse about the quality or priorities of what is going on the ballot in August. Intentional? MoDOT is damaging its own credibility by doing this.

Go to the meetings and insist that MODOT

1 Publish all of the projects in an informative manner with cost estimates, and then ask for public comment.

2. Separate MoDOT projects from each of the regional project lists 

3. Summarize MoDOT and Regional projects by Category  (Roads and Bridges, Transit, etc) and show total proposed expenditures and percentages by category.

We realize the dollar amounts are estimates, but they won’t change significantly as they are refined.

MoDOT has all this information readily available, but they chose to publish an almost meaningless listThe public wants the complete information organized in a meaningful manner in order to evaluate the projects. That is not too much to ask when Missouri is asking for the largest tax increase EVER in the state. 

Transit Action Network is against Missouri Amendment 7, for a long list of reasons, but we have worked hard with everyone in our region to develop a list of regional projects worth funding, just in case this bill passes. However, Missouri Amendment 7 needs to be sent back to the legislature with a big NO. Subsequent posts will deal with our objections to the funding mechanism.

An initial list of reasons to VOTE NO from Missourians for Better Transportation Solutions

 Vote NO on The MO Transportation Tax

KANSAS CITY DISTRICT MoDOT Meeting schedule
Gamber Center
4 SE Independence Avenue
Lee’s Summit, MO
Monday, June 16, 4-7 pm
Union Station – Grand Hall East
30 W. Pershing Rd.
Kansas City, MO
Tuesday, June 17, 4-6 pm
Vesper Hall
400 NW Vesper St.
Blue Springs, MO
Wednesday, June 18, 4-7 pm
 
Truman Memorial Building
416 W. Maple Ave.
Independence, MO
Thursday, June 19, 4-7 pm
 
Heritage Hall
117 W. Kansas St.
Liberty, MO
Tuesday, June 17, 2-5 p.m.
 

 

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Transit Talk on KKFI 90.1FM May 20 at 6PM

Posted by Transit Action Network on May 19, 2014


KKFI 90.1 FMJoin Transit Action Network as we interview KCATA General Manager Mark Huffer and KCATA Director of System Development Dick Jarrold Tuesday at 6pm.
Topics: Prospect MAX (the often overlooked part of the streetcar expansion plan), the Compressed Natural Gas conversion of the KCATA bus fleet, and an introduction to the work of the new Regional Transit Coordinating Council.

Where: Radio Active Magazine (previously Mic Check)  on KKFI 90.1FM Community Radio

When: Tuesday May 20 at 6pm    Podcast of show: LINK TO MAY 20 SHOW 

 

 

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Help Pick Missouri Transit And Bike/Ped Projects for the November Election – MAY 22

Posted by Transit Action Network on May 19, 2014


Where: MARC Transportation Outlook 2040 Workshopmarclogo
Sylvester Powell Community Center
6200 Martway Street
Mission, Kansas
 
When: May 22, 8:30 am to 11:30 amTransportation_Outlook_2040

Register via the MARC website at www.MARC.org

MoDOT Headquarters and Missouri State Capitol. No other major department of state government has closer proximity to the General Assembly.

MoDOT Headquarters and Missouri State Capitol. No other major department of state government has closer proximity to the General Assembly.

The Missouri General Assembly passed HJR68 to put a 3/4 percent sales tax for transportation on the ballot in November 2014. MoDOT and its local planning partners– Metropolitan Planning Organizations such as Mid-America Regional Council in Kansas City and East-West Gateway Council of Governments in St. Louis, plus Regional Planning Councils throughout the state – will develop a list of projects to be funded by the tax before the measure goes to voters.

Thus, a lot of local discussion (and deal-making) will be going on in the next couple of months.

In the Kansas City region, this process coincides with (and somewhat complicates) MARC’s already-underway update of its long-range transportation plan, Transportation Outlook 2040.

MARC will use its TO2040 workshop on May 22 to help decide project priorities for the whole region, as well as to narrow the list of projects that would be promised to Missouri voters.

Setting aside for the moment the task of adding projects in the TO2040 update, it’s crucially important to give immediate attention to the Missouri sales tax project list. The 3/4 percent statewide sales tax is projected to yield $5.34 billion over the 10 years it would be in effect, and MoDOT has told MARC its share of the total will be $816 million.

That $816 million will be spent on transportation projects within MARC’s planning area: Jackson, Clay, Platte, and Cass Counties.

Even more important is that the money isn’t restricted to highway projects. Transit, bike, and pedestrian projects are eligible, as are passenger and freight rail, airport, and river port projects. In fact, it is possible in theory that the entire $816 million could be spent without rebuilding or expanding a single highway.

Possible, but not likely. For example, MoDOT wants to rebuild I-70 across the state, and they might like to see the cost of the Kansas City region’s segment of I-70 come out of our $816 million.

MOTMIn addition, MoDOT (to say nothing of the Missouri Public Transit Association) would like to see stable funding for rural and urban transit.

Same goes for passenger rail service, the Missouri River Runner trains operated under contract by Amtrak. At present, MoDOT has to go hat-in-hand to the legislature each year for the $10 million or so it costs to keep the trains running. MoDOT might want our region’s share of that total to also come out of the $816 million.

The important thing for May 22 is that advocates for a balanced transportation investment program need to be there to express the strongest possible support for transit, pedestrian and bike projects — projects to make streets and roads safer for people not driving cars — as well as for stable funding for continuing (and increasing) passenger rail.

Register via the MARC website at www.MARC.org

Earlier TAN article:

That Penny Sales Tax — Here’s What We Are Telling the Legislature

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Regional Transit Coordinating Council Meeting May 14

Posted by Transit Action Network on May 13, 2014


marclogoTransit_Coordinating_Council-2Attend the Regional Transit Coordinating Council’s next meeting

When: May 14, 2014 @ 1:30 pm
Where: Mid-America Regional Council
600 Broadway Ste. 200, Kansas City, Missouri 64105KCATA

This council is having a real impact on regional transit issues.

Tomorrow’s meeting will cover

  1. Quick Wins: Regional Call Center Integration, Google Transit Feed, and Fare Study Update
  2. Presentation on Regional Branding Strategy – Willoughby Design will present the regional transit brand process, discuss public feedback gathered to date, and next steps.
  3. Transit Project List for Transportation Outlook 2040 and Missouri Statewide Tax and Priorities
  4. Programming and Planning
    1. Paratransit Coordination Work Plan
    2. Special Transportation- Job Access Partnership and RTCC Update
    3. Project Applications (CMAQ, STP, TA) Follow-Up
    4. TIGER VI Application
  5. Transit Stakeholder Forum Update and Next Meeting – Staff will present outcomes of March 27th meeting and discuss next meeting

There is a public comment section at the beginning of the meeting. You must sign up.

 

 

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Attend Transit Stakeholders Forum Mar 27

Posted by Transit Action Network on March 24, 2014


all transit agenciesJoin the discussion about regional branding!

Don’t miss the second Transit Stakeholders Forum. This forum gives everyone an opportunity to provide input into decision-making for Kansas City’s regional transit system. This meeting will focus on the regional branding effort. All of the transit providers (KCATA, Johnson County Transit, Unified Government Transit, Inde Bus and eventually the streetcar) will operate under one umbrella logo, or “regional co-brand” while maintaining their individual identities. Please attend and provide your perspective.

The results of this discussion will provide input to the Regional Transit Coordinating Council and help define the core values and other branding elements that will represent our regional transit system.

A regional co-brand is an important step toward future cohesion of the region’s transit system. The new brand will apply to future initiatives like a one-stop regional transit website, a fare collection system, and a regional transit map. It will help existing users more easily navigate a region-wide system and help attract new transit users.

When: Thursday, March 27 @ 5-6:30 p.m.
Where: Kauffman Foundation Conference Center,
4801 Rockhill Road, Kansas City, MO 64110
Metro Routes: Metro 25, Troost MAX, 47
The JO Routes: The JO Connex/556

You can submit a comment or question if you can’t attend.  Please email smartmoves@marc.org.

Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/228917683967865/?ref=2&ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming

 

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RTCC Tackles Big Transit Issues – Funding and Paratransit

Posted by Transit Action Network on March 21, 2014


marclogoThe Regional Transit Coordinating Council (RTCC) was formed last September (see  New Transit Coordinating Council Off To A Good Start),  but it is already tackling some of the region’s toughest transit issues: Getting more funding for transit projects, and coordinating paratransit in the region.Transit_Coordinating_Council-2

ONE: Funding: Transit is always plagued with insufficient money to do everything that needs to be done. So when some of the region’s most influential public officials — mayors, council members, public administrators — put their heads together with MARC and the transit agencies to get additional transit funding, it can be a formidable group.

What money are they going after?

Other than the diminishing federal money that goes from the Federal Transit Administration directly to transit operators, there are three major sources of federal transit money currently available to be “programmed” (allocated to projects) at MARC.Federal_Funds_to_program_in_2014

  • The smallest amount is $17.1 million from the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). This is most often used for bike and pedestrian projects.
  • $18.2 million is available from the Congestion Mitigation / Air Quality (CMAQ) program. The RTCC will allocate the transit portion of these funds.
  • The largest amount is $77 million from the Surface Transportation Program (STP).  This money is programmed by the Missouri and Kansas STP committees, and is typically used for road and bridge projects, even though transit is an eligible use.  Last year was an exception when $16 million of STP money was allocated to purchase four streetcars for the Kansas City Downtown Streetcar project.

What’s new this time?

With staff of MARC and the four transit operators working together, RTCC has created a list of eleven projects to submit for funding.  Such a large group of transit projects has never been submitted for STP and CMAQ funding before, but with the transit operators working closely together and influential regional public officials involved, the projects will carry more weight than when transit operators submitted projects independently.

See the complete list of projects identified by RTCC.  RTCC_Priorities_List_March_2014  These projects will be submitted to MARC, evaluated and “scored” by MARC staff, and then forwarded to the appropriate programming committees. TAN appreciates the extended list of well-thought-out transit projects and supports them being funded.

TWO: Paratransit: If there is one transit issue in the region that especially needs coordination, it is Paratransit.  [Note: Strictly speaking, “paratransit” isn’t just for the disabled.  Think of it as specialized or flexible transit service for people who can’t get to a bus stop, or who have other special transportation needs.]  People with disabilities have to deal with an extremely difficult and complicated set of eligibility rules along with restricted transit options to get around the region. Many parts of the region don’t have any public transit options for the disabled. Each transit system operates independently and differently.

Special-needs riders need a coordinated, easy to use system to get the transportation they need. Barriers to paratransit need to be eliminated to make this type of transit more functional.

RTCC Co-Chair Robbie Makinen, who is also Chairman of the KCATA Board of Commissioners, lost his eyesight last year and has become largely dependent on paratransit.  As a long-term transit advocate, Makinen has always been concerned with this issue, but now as a user, he really understands and suffers from the dysfunctional nature of the state of regional paratransit. Makinen is championing the effort to coordinate the regions fragmented paratransit services.

Jameson Auten, the head of KCATA’s “Share-A-Fare” paratransit program, and Tyler Means, transit planner at MARC, put this presentation together to describe the paratransit service offered by the four transit agencies: KCATA, The JO, Inde Bus and UGT.  In his presentation, Auten pointed out the different hours of operations, eligibility requirements, reservation hours, and fares. RTCC Paratransit Coordination

One of the biggest issues for paratransit in the region is the lack of paratransit services in Johnson County.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Although Johnson County Transit has provided bus service for over 30 years, it does not have any Complementary ADA Service:  i.e., no paratransit service that “complements” their regular transit routes. Their bus service is configured as commuter routes, which means they don’t have to comply with this part of the Americans With Disabilities Act The special transportation service they do provide, called Special Edition, is not available to anyone living outside of Johnson County. People with disabilities living outside of Johnson County but wishing to travel to Johnson County — even for medical appointments or other serious purposes — are denied access. In Johnson County there is already such a big backlog of residents needing this type service that they cut off eligibility each year and there is a waiting list.

RTCC understands that tackling this issue is a long-term project. Although the most recent meeting focused on paratransit services supplied by the four major transit agencies, everyone acknowledged that there are a large number of additional organizations supplying transit to the disabled. In order to supply enough transit to the growing number of people in need, they hope that every provider will be involved in this coordination effort.  As RTCC Co-Chair Mayor McConwell put it, “ there are 10,000 people a day in the US turning 65. We can’t wait another 20 years before addressing this issue.”

In addition to these two very important issues, RTCC is still working on their initial list of “Quick Wins.” Currently a Regional Fare Study is underway, and we expect to get results on that in early summer.

The next Transit Stakeholders Forum is scheduled for March 27, 5:00 to 6:30 pm, at the Kauffman Foundation.  Please help spread the word about this meeting, especially to riders. This Forum is designed to work in conjunction with the RTCC. The previous meeting was December 17. The March forum will focus on creation of a regional “co-branding” strategy for the Kansas City region’s transit system.

The next RTCC meeting is May 14 at 1:30 pm at MARC.

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Attend the First Transit Stakeholder Forum – Dec 17

Posted by Transit Action Network on December 9, 2013


marclogoMid-America Regional Council (MARC) has announced the first meeting date for the new Transit Stakeholder Forum.Transit_Stakeholder_Fourm-2

When: December 17, 2013,  5 pm to 6:30 pm
Where: Mid-America Regional Council
600 Broadway, Suite 200, Kansas City, Mo

No membership is required for this forum and meetings are open to the public.

This meeting marks the beginning of a new chapter in transit outreach in the region. This forum provides an opportunity for public feedback from users, potential users and advocates to improve the transit experience in KC.

MARC wants to widen participation in transit discussions by including all interested parties and getting positive feedback for improvements to the regional transit system.

From the MARC website:

This forum provides public input for the Transit Coordinating Council, which advises MARC, the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority and local transit partners and jurisdictions on issues, such as regional transit planning, coordination and implementation of priorities.Transit_Coordinating_Council-2 The goals for this forum include:

  • Providing input to the area stakeholders about improvement of accessibility of area transit services.
  •  Providing input on the expansion of regional transit services, in ways that are consistent with the Smart Moves Regional Transit Vision.
  •  Allowing for some interaction with members of the Transit Coordinating Council or members of partner agencies and MARC representatives.

The Transit Stakeholder Forum (TSF) and the Transit Coordinating Council (TCC) work together to replace the MARC Transit Committee. The TCC has already started working on system improvements toward achieving seamless transit and part of the first meeting will be spent presenting those changes and asking for input to make the improvements even better. Some improvements include an online interactive regional transit map for the whole system and getting Google Trip Planner and the Regional Call Center to work for the whole system. Read our previous post New Transit Coordinating Council Off To a Good Start to see what TCC has been working on.

The meeting will provide an opportunity for the public to meet with representatives from each of the transit agencies.

This meeting is not a one-time event, although the Forum doesn’t currently have a meeting schedule. A meeting schedule should be discussed at the first meeting. The TSF is one of MARC’s standing committees and it functions as an adjunct to the TCC. They need to work together to get the best results.

The TSF can help minimize or eliminate the barriers to seamless travel in the KC region and provide a better transit system, but only if the public gets involved. The biggest challenge will be to make improvements within the limited funds available for public transit. TCC is already working to increase those funds.

TAN has advocated for a public transit forum for a long time.  Now that we have it, let’s make it a success!

If you are unable to attend this meeting and wish to submit a comment or questions through TAN, please send us an email at TransActionKC@gmail.com See you on December 17th!!!

See MARC’s webpage for the Transit Stakeholder Forum

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Missouri’s Transportation Future – Our Latest Analysis

Posted by Transit Action Network on November 21, 2013


On November 18, MoDOT called its regional planning partners to Jeff City to lay out the process for developing a list of projects that would accompany a transportation funding question that could be on the November, 2014, ballot. That question — should it clear the necessary hurdles either through the initiative petition process or by act of the 2014 General Assembly — would ask Missouri voters to approve a one-cent increase in the state sales tax for a period of ten years, producing a total of about $8 billion. The project list would let voters see what they’d be getting. It’s all about accountability, and accountability is good.

Before saying any more we should remind our readers that the penny sales tax is still just a proposal — albeit the most-often discussed proposal — by which Missouri would get additional money for transportation purposes. As we’ve reported previously, there are rumblings of opposition to the proposal. Whether proponents — including highway contractors and chambers of commerce and others having a stake in improving highways — will be able to raise enough money to finance a petition process and then an election campaign to pass the measure, is still unknown. Read our earlier entry:
www.flickr.com/photos/58867268@N03/10808168813/

Based on a briefing by MoDOT and MARC staff at the November 19 meeting of MARC’s Total Transportation Policy Committee, it appears that a lot less is set in stone than we had expected. Moreover, indications are that MoDOT is willing to have the project list include just about anything — anything transportation-related, of course.

A tentative spending plan circulated by MoDOT earlier this year had well over $1 billion coming off the top for reconstruction of the 200 rural miles of I-70 as a six-lane freeway. That is no longer a given. Even the idea of building six lanes all the way is apparently no longer to be taken for granted. That shift in itself is real progress.

Vision for MOUnder MoDOT’s plan, its regional planning partners — Metropolitan Planning Organizations like Mid-America Regional Council in Kansas City and East-West Gateway Coordinating Council in St. Louis, plus Regional Planning Councils throughout the rest of the state — will develop their priority lists between now and next June.

Meanwhile, MoDOT will develop a very general plan for how the projected $8 billion dollar pie would be carved up among categories of needs and jurisdictions. It’s anybody’s guess what that might look like. There might well be a few slices off the top:
– A slice for I-70, as has previously been discussed?
– A slice for public transit, to be divided among the state’s dozen or so transit providers?
– A slice to assure funding for the Missouri River Runner passenger trains between Kansas City and St. Louis.
– Maybe even a slice for some hypothetical “challenge grant” programs to help local communities do long-needed smaller projects?

Whatever off-the-top slices there might be for statewide needs and programs, there would also be an allocation to each of MoDOT’s seven districts for projects to be decided in consultation with MPO’s and RPC’s.

Sound complicated? Well, it probably is, and we have a hunch that even MoDOT’s top staff don’t know yet how it’s going to play out.

What we do know is that we’ve never before seen a proposed spending program that is so open to public involvement and input.

That’s where you come in.MOTM

[1] – MoDOT’s draft long-range plan, “A Vision for Missouri’s Transportation Future,” is now out for a 45-day comment period. Here’s the website:
www.missourionthemove.org/
Throughout the site you’ll find opportunities to click on an orange box and let MoDOT know what you think. Do it!

[2] – Get involved in MARC’s ongoing long-range transportation plan update process:
www.to2040.org/
Begin with MARC’s online survey about priorities:
to2040.questionpro.com/

Transportation_Outlook_2040A final note. We’ve noted before that there are reasons to be concerned about passing a sales tax for transportation and nothing else, while highway user fees are among the lowest in the nation. Perhaps legislators will take that concern seriously in January and devise a revenue package that gives MoDOT enough to keep it going while also meeting other important state investment needs. Meanwhile, it’s important that we play along while we press MoDOT and its planning partners to devise as progressive and inclusive a transportation investment program as possible.

Posted in Action, Regional Transit Issue | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

New Transit Coordinating Council Off To a Good Start

Posted by Transit Action Network on November 15, 2013


marclogoTransit Action Network is very pleased with the initial efforts of the new regional Transit Coordinating Council (TCC), which is co-chaired by Robbie Makinen of Jackson County and Chairman of the KCATA Board, and the mayor of Mission KS and MARC board member, Laura McConwell.

Robbie Makinen of Jackson County and Chairman of the KCATA Board, and the mayor of Mission KS and MARC board member, Laura McConwell

Robbie Makinen of Jackson County and Chairman of the KCATA Board, and the mayor of Mission KS and MARC board member, Laura McConwell

The new council partially replaces the MARC Transit Committee. The Council consists of local policy officials, and transit and planning professionals.

METRO ogoThe Council has had two meetings, Sept 4th and Nov 6th.

The fractured nature of the region’s transit is well-known so this council is very welcome. It was heartening for transit advocates to hear major regional players actively engaged and enthusiastic about improving transit.

One of the major actions taken by the Council was the establishment of the Transit Stakeholder Forum (TSF). This new forum is an adjunct to the TCC and together the two committees replace the previous MARC Transit Committee. TSF will be an open public meeting and transit riders, potential riders and advocates can comment and provide input on the projects the TCC is working on as well as make additional suggestions. MARC is expected to announce the date of the first meeting soon.

At its first meeting the Transit Coordinating Council developed a set of six priorities, “quick wins”,

At the second meeting they discussed progress on these items.

1. Regional Pass and Fare Reciprocity

First TCC meeting Sept 4, 2103

First TCC meeting Sept 4, 2103

  • Near term implementation of the The JO monthly pass as a defacto regional pass. The JO monthly pass would be accepted on all regional routes, except the premium express buses. This extends The JO monthly pass reciprocity to Unified Government Transit and IndeBus. The JO monthly pass is already accepted on the Metro. This pass costs $75.60. This change is an important step toward regional pass reciprocity but we doubt if it will affect many riders.
  • There was no discussion about The JO accepting the Metro monthly pass with a $1 up-charge as was mentioned in the draft report. We hope this change can be implemented soon but it is still awaiting approval. This change would have the largest impact on riders since people with Metro monthly passes could reduce the current cost of using The JO.
  • An effort to solve the long-term fare reciprocity issue is being addressed with a regional fare study.  The goal is to make fares consistence and improve fare recovery ratios. KCATA fares bring in about 15% of the cost, but the other agencies recovery ratios are lower. They plan to develop a “fare elasticity model” in order to make better decisions about the best time and amount to raise fares. This model helps to project the net impact on revenue since a fare increase usually causes a decrease in ridership.  Expect completion of the study early in 2014.

2. Regional Transit Call Center

  • Work is being done to get IndeBus schedules integrated into the Regional Call Center  (RCC) database so Independence can use the system. Independence still has to decide to fund the additional cost of using the RCC. IndeBus is the only agency not currently using the RCC.
  • The long-term plan is to integrate all the different regional paratrasnit services so they can use the RCC.
  • MoDOT’s 511 call function will be updated to provide a simple way to reach the RCC operator.

3. Regional Trip Planning and General Transit Feed Specification (Google Transit Feed)

TCC meeting Nov 6

TCC meeting Nov 6

  • Independence is in the process of reconfiguring its transit data to work with the industry standard, Google Transit. IndeBus is the only provider not on this system. This change will make the whole system available for regional trip planning using Google’s Trip Planner.

4. Regional Route Map and Regional Transit Service Website

  • MARC has developed a dynamic online service map.  It was made available online on Nov 6th   http://kcsmartmoves.org/ You can drill down to see the routes and link to the appropriate website. All of the regional routes are on the map. This capability is really exciting. It will be available on the transit agencies websites in the near future.
  • A printed regional map is planned in 2014.

5. Regional Transit Branding

  • A request for proposals was released on Nov. 6th to get bids for a designer to develop a coordinated regional transit brand to use as an umbrella image for all regional services. They plan to select a consultant Fall 2013
  • Branding and website development, material, marketing etc. should take place in 2014.

6. Passenger Amenity Standards

  • KCATA is developing standard passenger amenity thresholds for deploying various passenger amenities based on the number of passenger boardings at a stop.
  • Guidelines will be circulated and a technical team will review, finalize and forward for approvals as necessary. Target date 2014

TCC also accepted a workplan for 2014, which includes the items already mentioned as well as:

  • Develop regional transit performance measures and informational reports
  • Support the coordination of local study efforts
  • Initiate coordination of local paratransit services and related customer information
  • Assess and identify the best use of federal transportation funding.

The 2013 workplan requires $45 thousand for regional branding. The 2014 workplan estimates $110 thousand for the regional website/brand deployment and the Fare study. All of these budget items have been covered by local contributions.

TCC will be responsible for programming approximately $1.8 million annually of Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) funds for FY 2015, 2016 and maybe 2017.  Additional projects may be considered from this funding source.

In addition, STP (Surface Transportation Projects) funds of $35 million, which are programmed by another committee, will be asking for projects soon. Traditionally transit projects have had a hard time getting a share of STP funds. The streetcar was successful but that isn’t the norm. TCC decided that a larger coordinated regional project would have a better chance of receiving STP funding than smaller individual transit projects submitted separately by the transit agencies or individual jurisdictions. The committee scheduled a special meeting to Tuesday, December 3 at 9 am at MARC in order to be proactive about creating a regional application.

TCC is still working to define itself and understand its role in the region. Another function we believe the TCC should embrace is being consulted on all transit issues of regional significance. TCC needs to make itself heard and exert its presence and importance as it goes forward. For instance, recently KCMO approved Cerner’s Bannister and I-435 project, including huge incentives, but with NO requirements relating to public transit in Ordinance 130768. Cerner plans to have 15,000 employees at this location. This project is of regional significance and deserves a regional transportation impact analysis, including consultation with TCC regarding the potential for improving transit service both to the project site and throughout the I-435/I-470 corridor.

The Council plans to alternate venues between MARC and KCATA. The Council is set up to meet on a bi-monthly basis. In the off months, transit staff and MARC staff will work on the Council’s priorities.

The TCC meetings are open to the public and there is a public comment period at the end of the meeting.

TAN is very pleased with the progress and direction of the new council. We expect it to exert a positive coordinating influence on transit in our region.

MARC’s TCC presentation presented earlier this year at the  MARC Transit Committee. Presentation_RegionalTransitCoordinatingCouncilConcept011513

MARC’s website link  Transit Coordinating Council

TCC members TCC Members_092013

TAN is very engaged in seamless transit and achieving it is one of our main missions.  When Co-chair Makinen asked for our input last August we submitted a list of twelve items to him and Tom Gerend, Assistant Director of Transportation at MARC, to consider for inclusion in the TCC workplan. We are pleased that we are all on the same page about seamless transit and so many of our initial issues are being addressed.

TAN Recommendations for TCC agenda

Posted in Meeting Reports, Regional Transit Issue, Seamless Transit | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Provide Feedback To Update The Transportation 2040 Plan – NOV 7

Posted by Transit Action Network on November 5, 2013


Transportation_Outlook_2040MARC is updating Transportation Outlook 2040, the Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP) for the Kansas City region, as required every five years by federal regulations.Public_meeting_on_Nov_7

As part of this update process, they need your feedback to ensure that the plan’s vision and goals point the Kansas City region in the right direction.

Share your thoughts on these important goals. These decisions about transportation will guide the spending of billions of dollars in transportation funds over the next few decades.

marclogoLet’s make sure Transit gets a fair share of these dollars.

When: Thursday, Nov. 7, 3:30—6 p.m.
(Presentations at 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.)
Where: Mid-America Regional Council (MARC)
600 Broadway, Suite 200, Kansas City, MO 64105

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Public Meeting About A Possible Prospect MAX – Oct 22

Posted by Transit Action Network on October 21, 2013


METRO logoKCATA, City of Kansas City, MO, and Mid-America Regional Council are having a public meeting to discuss the possibility of a MAX line on Prospect from Downtown to South Kansas City.

When: Oct 22, 5 pm to 7 pm
Where: Emmanuel’s Community Center, 3510 Prospect Ave., Kansas City, MO 64128MAX brt

The planning process in underway so it is important to get input from customers and area residents.

At the meeting:

  • See and tour a MAX bus
  • Ask questions about possible MAX service and submit comments
  • Enjoy complimentary appetizers

Bus connections: Take 71-Prospect or 35-35th Street to the community center. Plan a trip online or call 816-221-0660 for assistance with schedules.

KCATA link   Let’s Talk Prospect MAX

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