Transit Action Network (TAN)

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

Archive for May, 2010

Meeting with Mayor Rhoads of Lee’s Summit

Posted by Transit Action Network on May 26, 2010

Lisa Lamons, Ron McLinden, Mayor Randy Rhoads, Janet Rogers and Margie Richcreek

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.

Janet Rogers

May 26, 2010


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Mike Sanders will be on Up to Date Tuesday May 25, 2010 at 11:00 am

Posted by Transit Action Network on May 24, 2010

Mike Sanders will be on Up to Date tomorrow, KCUR 89.3FM at 11:00 AM.

They will discuss the County’s Regional Rapid Rail concept, the charter review process and property assessment.

Posted in Rail, Regional Rapid Rail, RRR | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

TAN to City Council–Postpone Support for Commuter Rail

Posted by Transit Action Network on May 20, 2010

Two weeks ago Mike Sanders and Jim Terry (TranSystems) presented the Regional Rapid Rail concept to the Kansas City Council and requested a letter of support for a $4.5 million earmark to do an Alternative Analysis of this concept and supporting transit. The Kansas City Council proposed a resolution to provide this letter. Testimony was held this morning on the resolution.  Mike Sanders and Jim Terry spoke in favor of the resolution. Ron McLinden spoke in favor of putting the resolution on hold until the MARC Commuter Corridor Study is complete in 6-8 weeks. This study is supposed to evaluate the feasibility and viability of the concept. The legislative committee passed the resolution this morning.

Link to Kansas City’s resolution

Below is a copy of Ron’s statement this morning.

Presentation to the Kansas City Council Legislative Committee on May 20, 2010 by Ron McLinden

The idea of turning underused rail lines into a regional transit system is appealing – almost seductive.  There’s a lot of interest in having rail transit.  Every big city has it, and we don’t want to be left behind.  There’s less agreement, of course, about where it should go, and how we should pay for it.

In January, 2008, when the ATA was doing its most recent light rail study, you heard a presentation from Jeff Boothe, a rail transit expert from Washington, DC.  I recall distinctly one of the things he said:  Before you do light rail you need to know what you want it to do for you.

The same applies today.  What do we want rail transit to do for us, and will this proposed system actually do it?

You may be aware of a commuter corridors study that Mid-America Regional Council has had under way for about six months.  Its principal focus is to determine whether this commuter rail concept makes sense:  Can it deliver the travel time savings needed to attract enough riders to make it a viable project, one that can successfully compete for federal funding?  That study should be completed in six to eight weeks.  We suggest that you hear the results of the MARC study before you endorse the concept.

The concept envisions using city streets for some of the most critical rail segments, and it would cross several boulevards at grade.  We suggest you get input from your Public Works Department, and also from the Parks Board.

If you adopt this resolution now, before you have all the facts, you will further heighten public expectations about a concept that might or might not be viable.  The resolution says that you support asking for federal money to study the proposal further, but the headlines will say that commuter rail is a big step closer to becoming reality.

Candidly, we’re concerned that this proposal is a distraction from more fundamental transit issues:  What kind of total transit system will best serve the citizens of Kansas City, and help our city to grow as the vibrant urban center of the region?  How can we assure adequate and reliable funding for the transit service we already have, and for expansion to meet growing needs?

All of us applaud Jackson County’s interest in transit, and we should seize this opportunity to work with the County to put in place a mechanism for county-wide funding of major transit corridors, including commuter service using buses or rail.  Creating a county transit authority under existing state law is one such funding mechanism.  Jackson County outside Kansas City has unmet transit needs, and funding will be needed regardless of what kind of transit service is ultimately provided, so let’s get going on it now.

In summary, here’s our request to you:

+  Put this resolution on hold pending the results of the MARC study, and input from Public Works.

+  Join with other elected officials and work with Jackson County to establish a broader funding base for transit through creation of a county transit authority.

KC Regional Rapid Rail Concept

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Small Steps Toward Seamless Transit

Posted by Transit Action Network on May 19, 2010

The Transit Action Network wants “seamless transit” for the Kansas City region.

What do we mean by seamless transit?  Basically it comes down to making it easier to connect among the three transit systems (ATA, The JO, and UGT).  Shared bus stops with posted schedules and other information, especially where routes intersect.  A common monthly transit pass, or at least having the three systems accept each other’s monthly passes. Simple things.

At lot is happening in transit right now, and it might seem reasonable to postpone some of these details while dealing with more immediate issues.  We think this is precisely the time to do it.

Looking just at Johnson County, for example, there are opportunities that shouldn’t be lost.  Beginning In July, Johnson County Transit will add trips on Metcalf and Shawnee Mission Parkway, and will launch a new route on 75th Street that will connect with MAX and other ATA routes in Waldo.  In addition, federal stimulus money has been awarded to JCT to prepare for BRT (bus rapid transit) in the Metcalf / Shawnee Mission Parkway corridor, with connections to MAX at the Plaza.

The ATA’s Route 175 currently operates along Metcalf between 95th and 119th, three trips in the morning and three in the afternoon.  That route, along with the new JCT service to begin in July, presents opportunities to improve connectivity for transit users.


1 – Add information about the new JCT service at MAX and other stops in Missouri, and to let people know that the two systems honor each other’s transfers.

2 – At Waldo, make sure the new JCT route serves the MAX stop directly, rather than forcing people to cross 75th Street and walk 150 yards to connect to MAX.

3 – At Waldo and the Plaza, add a map of the several routes that radiate outward from those stops.

4 – At the Metcalf South park-and-ride lot, add a schedule poster and information about where to board the ATA Route 175 bus that passes by on 95th and Metcalf, but doesn’t serve the park-and-ride.  (Better yet, reroute the 175 to serve the park-and ride lot.)

5 – When new bus stops are posted along Metcalf, have them show what routes serve them, ATA as well as JCT routes.

6 – Wherever passenger shelters are installed, provide information about transit service.  Every shelter is a 24/7 presence for transit, and should be used as part of the transit marketing plan.

7 – Show all connecting routes when JCT and the ATA publish new or revised pocket schedules, or publish such information on their respective websites.

JCT and the ATA, working with MARC, have been partners in applying for and receiving the federal stimulus money for transit that was announced back in February.  They should use this closer level of cooperation and coordination to make their respective transit services work more like a seamless regional system.

Ron McLinden

May 18, 2010

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Hello world!

Posted by Transit Action Network on May 10, 2010

Transit Action Network welcomes you to our blog.  We’ll  keep you informed about transit in the Kansas City region.

We regularly attend and participate in public meetings where key decisions are made — at Mid-America Regional Council, at city councils and county legislatures or commissions, and at transit agency governing bodies.

We establish contact with key public officials and present the case for improved transit service and more reliable funding.  We also maintain close working relations with staff at all of the relevant agencies.

Because we recognize that we can’t do everything by ourselves, we maintain informal relationships with other organizations and individuals who are also doing great work in support of transit.

Bottom line, we are involved.  Only by being involved can we expect to make progress.

We invite you to be involved, too.  Sign up to be notified about future transit actions, activities and opportunities to support improved and expanded transit in our region.  You’ll also receive notices of new blog postings.  And if you “tweet,” become one of our Twitter followers to receive occasional timely updates.

Informed people make the best advocates.  Get informed, get involved, help improve and expand transit service in the Kansas City region.

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