Transit Action Network (TAN) is hosting this transit forum to assist voters in making informed decisions regarding candidates’ positions on transit matters for the City of Kansas City and its surrounding Metro area. We will not endorse any candidate through our website or other communication efforts.
All seven of the mayoral candidates were invited to respond to six transit-related questions confronting the city and the metro region. We greatly appreciate the effort and thoughtful answers of the candidates.
We believe these questions will need to be addressed during the next mayoral term, although they deal with transit issues that have both short-term and long-term time horizons.
Each candidate’s response to one of the questions will be posted on our blog over a six-day period beginning January 31.
Public Comment: TAN is serious about getting improved and expanded transit in the Kansas City Region. We welcome diverse views on transit that are presented in a civil manner. This is a moderated blog-site and only transit-related comments or questions will be posted.
Question 1. The city council recently passed an ordinance to restore funding to the transit system from the ½ cent transportation fund.
a. Do you support continued city funding of public transit as an essential city service? If not, please explain why.
b. What non-financial actions can be taken to create a more transit friendly Kansas City?
Jim Rowland http://jimrowland.com
a) Yes, I support continued municipal funding of public transit as an essential City service. I supported the move to restore the funding that was being diverted from the KCATA; the diversion of those resources was a betrayal of the people’s trust.
b) We should do everything possible to make the planning and zoning process more friendly towards transit and walkability. Over the course of the campaign, I have issued two policy papers, “The Open for Business Initiative” and “A Sustainable Future,” that contain fresh ideas on job creation and municipal environmental policy (see Website). I strongly believe that we should incentivize and encourage high density (which is essential to effective transit) and mixed-income, mixed-use neighborhoods (which rely on and contribute to transit use).
Mass transit is the way of the future, but its adoption by Kansas Citians will require a cultural change. Economic factors will assist in accelerating its acceptance. However, real change will come from when our children use mass transit. A concept such as encouraging students to choose public transit to commute to school and work by including transit passes in tuition fees at a discounted rate should be implemented.
Mayor Funkhouser www.reelectmayorfunkhouser.com
a. Yes, I met representatives from your group and supported the restoration of the ATA funding.
b. Establish a regional transit NGO, whose major duties include:
1) Raising funds from regional stakeholders for regional transit.
2) Coordinating regional municipalities and non-governmental entities for regional transit.
3) Community outreach and education for an integrated, regional, multi-modal public mass transit system.
Sly James www.slyjamesformayor.com
a. I support continued city funding of public transit because I believe it is essential for our city and our citizens. The fact is, without a quality public transportation system, employees can’t get to work and that hinders our ability to create jobs and grow our city’s economy.
b. To create a more transit friendly city, City Hall needs leadership. The good news is that leadership is free. I am a veteran of the U.S. Marines, a small business owner, and a successful mediator and as mayor, I will use these skills to create a multi-year financial plan, which will include systematic improvements for our transit system. I grew up at 44th and Montgall, riding the bus to and from Bishop Hogan High School at Meyer Blvd and Troost. After returning from the Marine Corps, I attended Rockhurst College, taking the bus to my job near K.U. Medical Center and back daily. As a candidate for mayor, I sometimes ride the bus and speak with other riders about the issues important to them. From my own experience and through listening to our citizens, I understand the need and value of our public transportation system and its strengths and weaknesses.
Henry Klein www.kleinforkansascity.com
a. Yes, I support the continued funding. If anything, I would say we are still underfunded on transit. Please see my proposals on this subject in a later question.
b. Primary, Kansas City’s ATA needs to be better represented in Jeff City and Washington. I will comment more on this in question 6.
Updated for Additional Responses
Deb Hermann www.debhermannformayor.com
a. Yes, Public Transit is an essential city service.
b. As the City performs other services, such as obtaining ROW, redesigning streets, approving subdivision plats, etc, it should take into consideration present and future transit needs and desires and make those approvals that are consistent with those needs.
Channel 2 could be used more effectively to promote transit, car-pooling and other transit friendly messages.
Mike Burke www.burke4kc.com
a. A comprehensive transit system is vital to the future of Kansas City. As we face the imminent prospect of increased gasoline prices the needs become more urgent. I support continued City funding for transit.
b. I would like to explore more convenient ways for businesses to encourage employee ridership, perhaps through a card swipe system on busses that would allow for employees to ride free. This would be cheaper than paid parking.