Transit Action Network (TAN)

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

Archive for July, 2010

Action! – The Green Impact Zone

Posted by Transit Action Network on July 24, 2010


July 21-The Green Impact Zone* (GIZ) is one of our current “targets” for action! Loaded down with KCATA brochures and our own  Summer Fun on Transit-GIZ flyer, we introduced the Transit Action Network (TAN) to several GIZ neighborhood leaders.  We expressed our desire to be one of the partners working to transform the “Zone” toward sustainability and energy-efficient living.

We reminded everyone that earlier this year TAN and GIZ residents contacted our representatives in Jefferson City during their work on the state budget. Together we helped play a role in $3 million being set aside (at least tentatively) for KCATA. The release of the funds is dependant on the state’s economic condition.

We want to continue working with the Green Impact Zone to encourage the KC City Council and the Missouri State legislature to adequately fund our transit service.

Several leaders were interested in our handouts, and we asked them to consider us a transit resource. We even “invited” ourselves to attend meetings in their individual neighborhoods to learn more about the transit needs as seen by those who live in the GIZ.

*The Green Impact Zone is a cooperative effort to focus federal stimulus funds on projects in a 150-square block area of Kansas City, Mo. – bounded by 39th St. on the north, 51st St. on the south, Troost Ave. on the west, and Prospect to 47th to Swope Parkway on the east.

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Take The JO to the Jurassic

Posted by Transit Action Network on July 20, 2010


This monster announces the "Dinosaurs Unearthed" exhibit from its post outside Union Station...

...while inside Union Station, this animatronic Dilophosaurus greets visitors with a friendly roar.

There’s a dinosaur exhibit at Union Station, “Dinosaurs Unearthed”     http://www.dino.unionstation.org/

Kids love dinosaurs, right?  And there just happens to be a bus from Johnson County right to Union Station, Route M.

Put it all together and what to you get?  A great “Transit Adventure” from Johnson County to see the dinosaurs.  Or to see the kid-friendly attractions at Crown Center like Kaleidoscope, or the ever-popular fountain at Crown Center Square.

Johnson County Transit, “The JO” is primarily a commuter bus system, with morning and afternoon trips to and from Downtown Kansas City.  If you have transit needs between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm, you’ve been pretty much out of luck – except for Route M (AKA Route 672), a little-known route that makes a single round trip from Olathe to Downtown Kansas City and back in the middle of the day.

Route M, “Midday,” is your key to taking half-day trips to and from points in Kansas City from Johnson County.  It serves several major park-and-ride locations in Johnson County on the way to Downtown Kansas City, Union Station, and Crown Center:

+ Great Mall of the Great Plains

+ Downtown Olathe

+ Johnson County Community College

+ Oak Park Mall Shopping Center

+ Metcalf South Shopping Center

+ 6000 Lamar Transit Center

From one of these locations you can take a morning commuter bus to Union Station to see the dinosaurs and return via Route M (leaving from Union Station shortly after 1:00 pm), or take Route M to Union Station and return via one of the afternoon commuter routes.

We’ve prepared a summary schedule of some of the buses you can take in combination with Route M. (bus schedule to see the dinosaurs ) Other routes are also available, but we’ve chosen the ones that probably work for most people.

Round up the kids, head for one of The JO’s park-and-ride lots, and take The JO to Union Station for an adventure into the Jurassic (Closed Mondays)

Fares:  Regular fare on The JO is $2.00 for adults, $1.50 for kids 6-17, and free for kids 5 and under.

For extra adventure, you can transfer from The JO to MAX or another Metro bus to visit other attractions up and down the MAX corridor stretching from Waldo on the south to Downtown and River Market on the north.  Your JO driver can give you a transfer good for 2 hours on any Metro route.  For your return, pay the regular fare on the Metro ($1.50 for adults, 75 cents for kids 6-17) and get a transfer that’s good on The JO.

So get out there and have a Transit Adventure.  And post a comment on our blog to let us know how it went.

Note: Future adventurers and world travelers need to be familiar with 24-hour clock time, so we have used it on our schedule:  08:00 = 8:00 am, 16:07 = 4:07 pm, 20:10 = 8:10 pm (There is a 12 hour difference between “pm” times and the 24-hour clock; “am” times are the same) The JO buses operate only Monday through Friday.  We’ve made every effort to provide accurate schedule information, but schedules change from time to time.  We suggest you check The JO’s website – www.thejo.com – or call the regional transit information center, 221-0660, for the latest information.


Posted in Transit Adventures | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Regional Rapid Rail and MARC’s Alternatives Analysis Request

Posted by Transit Action Network on July 15, 2010


Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) has submitted to the Federal Transit Administration a $2 million request for funding an Alternatives Analysis (AA) based on the results of the Commuter Corridor Study that TranSystems is currently completing. This study includes the Regional Rapid Rail system.

The AA would investigate two commuter corridors: 1) I-70/Blue Springs corridor alignment to Odessa and 2) the Rock Island/Lee’s Summit corridor alignment to Pleasant Hill. In these corridors Expanded Express Buses, Light Rail Transit and Regional Rapid Rail would be evaluated and compared.

In addition a downtown circulation system is included in the request. It would evaluate and compare Local Bus and Bus Rapid Transit, Streetcar and Light Rail Transit.

According to the submission, “Through the proposed alternatives analysis, the region will determine the type of transit that can best facilitate positive changes for the citizens of Greater Kansas City with commuter and urban service”.

Federal funding for this analysis is not guaranteed.

Read the submission: AA request

At the July 7th MARC Transit Committee meeting TranSystems presented an update of the current Commuter Corridor Study. Four of the Regional Rapid Rail lines, US-71 (Grandview), I-70 West (State Ave.), I-29 (KCI Airport), and I-35 North (Liberty), will not be pursued in the Alternatives Analysis.  Express buses/ Bus on Shoulder solutions will be recommended. Multiple reasons were given for 4 of the 6 regional rapid rail lines not being pursued at this time but they mainly related to lack of sufficient ridership numbers to warrant the expense.

Posted in Rail, Regional Rapid Rail | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Transit Action Network – Our First Six Months

Posted by Transit Action Network on July 13, 2010


We formed Transit Action Network in early January, 2010, to fill what we saw as a void in active citizen involvement on behalf of expanded and effective transit service in the Kansas City region.

We have deliberately not created a formal organization, preferring instead to spend our time and other resources on behalf of transit.  Nor have we established a formal membership list or asked for dues.  “Action” is our middle name, and we use words such as “involved,” “nimble,” “informed,” and even “scrappy” to describe ourselves.

Our transit focus is broad. It is regional, multi-modal, and promotes transit for all demographic groups.

Get Involved

If you want to be more involved or just know what we are doing

We have bi-monthly lunch meetings where we discuss current issues and opportunities for action.  These are generally held at the Kansas City, Missouri, Central Library

Here’s a brief overview of what we’ve been up to:

Accomplishments

  • Our information booth at the Green Impact Zone expo, March 27 focused on an “action” to contact Missouri Senators to put emergency money in the budget for KCATA. The action successfully helped to get $3 million in the Missouri budget even though Governor Nixon later suspended the use of those funds.
  • We testified at three of the budget hearings held by the Kansas City City Council and made the Mayor and the Council aware that its budget decisions were diverting scarce resources away from transit.
  • We initiated a series of quarterly “transit lunch” outings for members of the MARC Transit Committee and other interested people in order to experience local transit first hand.
  • We provided a panelist for the Imagine KC telecast on KCPT, February 15.
  • We provided a guest on a KKFI radio program on transportation and air quality, May 10.
  • We had a letter to the editor of the KCStar published about transit in Johnson County
  • We worked with the Green Impact Zone to promote teens using the ATA TRANZ Tags for the summer.
  • Our members have been quoted in newspaper articles frequently about  transit issues.

Regional Transit Initiatives

In response to the proposed “Regional Rapid Rail” system, we have had numerous meetings with decision-makers at Jackson County, MARC, and KCATA regarding the proposal itself, as well as an evaluation of the proposal currently underway by MARC.  We also testified before the Kansas City City Council in favor of deferring support for the concept until further information was provided.  We believe our role has been constructive and pragmatic, stressing the importance of cost-effective transit solutions and not allowing a high-profile proposal to draw attention away from a pending threat to funding of current commuter bus service, particularly in Jackson County.

Meetings with public officials:

Local:

The purpose of these meetings has been to discuss and find out about local transit issues as well as promote the idea of getting dedicated funding to secure and expand current transit services. We discussed funding mechanisms such as a County Transit Authority and Transportation Development Districts for transit. We believe the need for better transit services is now and we shouldn’t wait until gas prices are outrageous, or until a rail system might finally be built, before we improve transit. We have met with:

  • Southern Platte County Mayors
  • Councilmen Whitley, Gray and Mosby of Lee’s Summit
  • Mayor Randy Rhoads of Lee’s Summit
  • Community Development staff of Independence
  • Councilman Bowerman of Blue Springs
  • Mayor David Bower of Raytown, co-chairman of the MARC Transit Committee
  • Mayor Gerry Richardson and Councilwoman Gia McFarlane of Parkville

State:

  • We are actively involved in MoDOT’s Rail Passenger Advisory Committee.
  • We have been active participants in MoDOT’s Traffic Management Committee for construction of the Christopher S. Bond Bridge.

National:

We met Congressional Staff to discuss issues in the next Federal Transportation Bill and issues related to senior mobility.

  • Sarah Woodward, Aide to Congressman Sam Graves

Public Events

We regularly participate in public events related to transit:

  • MARC open house on the Long-Range Transportation Plan
  • February 17 announcement of the award of a federal TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant, and a subsequent media event to announce details
  • Various forums and “webinars” related to transit and urban development issues
  • MARC Regional Assembly luncheon, June 25
  • Missouri Chamber of Commerce Transportation Conference
  • National Rail Plan Outreach Meeting, May 19

Transportation committees at Mid-America Regional Council

We are a regular, active and informed presence on behalf of transit at the following meetings–and in many cases we are the only transit presence:

  • Transit Committee
  • Total Transportation Policy Committee
  • Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee (because transit riders use those modes)
  • Missouri STP/Bridge Priorities Committee
  • Air Quality Forum
  • Technical Forecast Committee (because how a region grows determines how well transit can work to provide access to opportunities for all)
  • Long-Range Transportation Plan Subcommittee
  • MARC Board of Directors (observer status only)

We also have regular contact with MARC’s senior staff, and we don’t hesitate to ask for and receive clarification on many issues.

Kansas City Area Transportation Authority

  • We have attended each of the monthly meetings of the KCATA Board of Commissioners this year, and have used these meetings as opportunities to build and improve informal relationships with both Commission members and senior staff.
  • We have regular contact with senior staff regarding a wide range of transit funding and service issues.

Johnson County Transit

  • We have regular contact with staff of The JO to encourage improvement of their on-street presence (e.g., bus stop signs and posted schedules), and to help promote transit ridership in Johnson County with special focus on the new service launched on July 6.
  • We have informal conversations with several members of the Johnson County Transportation Council, and with various Johnson County city and county elected officials.

Outreach / Communication

  • We have been working with MoDOT to build local awareness of the state-supported Missouri River Runner rail passenger service connecting Kansas City and St. Louis.
  • We participate in the kcrag.com discussion forum ( http://forum.kcrag.com ) to disseminate information about transit developments and issues.

Networking

We have informal contacts with:

  • Let’s Go KC
  • MORE2 (Metropolitan Organization for Racial and Economic Equity)
  • Sierra Club
  • Kansas City, Missouri, Environmental Management Commission
  • Kansas City, Missouri, Climate Protection Steering Committee
  • League of Women Voters Kansas City/Jackson, Clay, Platte

(Whew!  Sometimes we surprise ourselves!)

Submitted by Transit Action Network’s very informal steering committee (in alphabetical order):

Ron McLinden

Margie Richcreek

Janet Rogers

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Inaugurating the New Johnson County Transit Service

Posted by Transit Action Network on July 9, 2010


Margie prepares to board Route M bus at 10th and Main

Ron and Margie board Route 856 bus at 6000 Lamar transit center

Hear!  Hear!  There is good news for regional transit…  as of July 6, 2010 the range of transit possibilities to and from Johnson County and Kansas City, MO just got a whole lot bigger!

The JO’s Route M, the midday route that makes a single round trip from Olathe to Downtown and back, plus NEW Routes 856 and 875 opened up opportunities for KC residents to get to Oak Park Mall and Metcalf South Shopping Center, Johnson County Community College (including the Carlsen Center for the Performing Arts and the Nerman Museum) and KU Edwards Campus throughout the day.  And for Johnson County residents, the new routes improve access to the Plaza, the Nelson-Atkins and Kemper Museums of Art, UMKC, Union Station and Crown Center, and Downtown Kansas City via MAX from Waldo or from the Plaza.

On July 6, Margie and Ron celebrated the launch of this new transit service in Johnson County by being among its first riders.  We selected a relatively short loop trip beginning and ending at 10th and Main Transit Center in Downtown Kansas City.  Margie arrived there via ATA Route 129 from Boardwalk Square in Platte County, and Ron arrived via ATA’s MAX route from Midtown.

We used our Metro transfers to board The JO’s Route M at 1:00, and got off at the Transfer Center at 6000 Lamar in Mission. Here we had easy walking access to the Johnson County Administrative Center, Powell Community Center, and several restaurants and retail shops. The NEW Route 856 Metcalf Flex bus arrived early and Don, the driver, snapped a photo of us boarding.  He, too, was celebrating his new assignment!!

Just imagine  –  Route 856 riders have access to everything along Metcalf from 63rd to 135th streets!!  We got off at 75th Street  –  the site of Walgreen’s and CVS among the retail options.  Did you know that more than 65 buses pass by 75th and Metcalf every weekday?

Soon we boarded the NEW eastbound Route 875 Flex bus with Paul at the wheel.  And we were off to Waldo and our next transfer onto the MAX at Wornall and 75th where you’ll find good places to eat  –  unique roof top dining at The Well, “traditionals” such as Waldo Pizza, and Coffee Girls’ new location is just a block west near 75th Street Brewery.  The retail shopping excels, also!

The JO’s Routes 856 and 875 are something new for the Kansas City area: “route deviation” transit.  They follow set routes on a fixed schedule, but the driver can go off-route to pick up or drop off riders who have called a day in advance.

Routes 856 and 875 complement Routes 556 and 575 that operate during the morning and evening commute periods.  These buses travel the same route but don’t go off-route.  Since both connect to MAX, it’s possible for more people to get to and from work and school.  Now, they and many more residents of the region have access to health care, shopping, and a variety of restaurants along these routes throughout the day!

Ron sent a few “tweets” along the way.  Read them at http://twitter.com/transactionkc.

Margie Richcreek reporting

"OH, there is the bus stop"

Ron "tweets' about the experience at the Waldo MAX stop

Posted in Transit Adventures | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

July 2010 Open Thread

Posted by Transit Action Network on July 6, 2010


Got a thought about transit?  Maybe it’s a new idea or a question or just a beef about some transit situation.  Post it here.  Please limit your comment to about 200 words — but if you write something really good — whether we agree or not — we might tolerate more.  And, of course, we reserve the right to refuse your post if it’s abusive or too far off the (transit) topic. Make it about substantive issues not personalities.

Posted in Open Thread | 1 Comment »

New Silver Route in Independence

Posted by Transit Action Network on July 2, 2010


Before the opening event ceremony at Centerpoint

Mary Hunt, Senior Planner, and Mayor Reimal show the map of the new Silver Route

Mark Huffer, KCATA General Manager, speaking at the opening event

Independence Community Development Director Jennifer Clark and Senior Planner Mary Hunt celebrate the opening of the Silver Route with transit rider Pyllis Mays

July 1 – The opening event at Centerpoint Hospital for Independence’s new Silver Route transit service shows what can happen when people think ahead and creatively. Several years ago Independence structured the Centerpoint Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district to fund a new bus route. The route will run Tuesday and Thursday and connect Centerpoint Medical facilities, the Social Security Administration, 39th & Noland (Walgreens and CVS are both there), Olde Oak Tree Apartments, the Midwest Genealogy Center (a Mid-Continent library and the largest public genealogy library in the country) and the Independence Transit Center.

Independence Mayor Don Reimal pointed out that this is a really good use of TIF money and it shows that when Independence has the money they provide transit.  He emphasized that no money was used from general revenues. KCATA General Manager Mark Huffer pointed out that this is probably the first use of TIF to fund transit in Missouri.

Phyllis Mays, an Independence transit rider and transit advocate who helped develop the route, was the first person to ride the new route.

The buses for this route have been fitted with two wheelchair positions since Independence has identified the need to accommodate additional wheelchair passengers on this route.

We salute Independence for its funding commitment to its regular transit service. Sales taxes are down and the Community Development Department, which administers the transit service, has had budget cuts of 30% over the last two years.  The decision was made to absorb those cuts in other ways and keep the budget for the regular transit services consistent at $1 million.  Anyone who has paid attention to the sales tax funding crisis for transit around the whole country should find this an exceptional commitment to transit in difficult financial times.

JR

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