May 17, 2010. Transit Action Network members Margie Richcreek, Janet Rogers and Ron McLinden met with the new Lee’s Summit mayor, Randy Rhoads, for an hour. Lisa Lamons of MoDOT joined us.
Lee’s Summit is trying hard to satisfy the transit needs of its residents and has recently expanded the service area for its Metroflex service.
Janet had previously discussed with Mayor Rhoads the possibility of Lee’s Summit losing its status as a separate “urbanized area” and thus its small-urbanized area grant for transit. The current grant helps to fund the Lee’s Summit Metroflex for seniors, along with some Eastern Jackson County commuter routes. The grant is based on the fact that Lee’s Summit was classified as a “small urbanized area” following the 2000 census. The city has grown so much since then that it will probably lose this classification in the 2010 census, and the associated grant money would no longer be available. We discussed alternate funding for these routes, including Jackson County’s ability to use Missouri legislation to start a county transit authority to fund transit. We provided information about the benefits of establishing a county transit authority, and offered to serve as a resource.
We discussed using the Missouri Transportation Development District Act for transit improvements, as has been done in the Centerpoint TDD that will fund a new route in Independence. This legislation is particularly good for public/private partnerships in transit.
In addition, we discussed the need for a contingency plan for increasing the commuter express service if gas prices spike in the near term. We hope that Eastern Jackson County communities, KCATA and Jackson County can have a plan to avoid the type of transit crisis we had in the summer of 2008 when everyone was surprised by the rapid gas price increase.
We invited Lisa Lamons of MoDOT to piggyback on our meeting. Lisa manages the state-funded Amtrak passenger service between Kansas City and St. Louis, and has been meeting with community leaders along the route to gain their support. She described recent projects to improve track capacity, and the resulting dramatic improvement in on-time performance of the Amtrak “Missouri River Runner” trains to 93 percent on-time — best of any corridor in the country. Lisa has marketing resources available and offered to help promote local events and attractions as a way to build ridership.
Mayor Rhoads was very receptive to the information. Since much of the material is new to him, he promised to give it careful consideration.
May 26, 2010