Transit Action Network (TAN)

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

Archive for February, 2011

Central Europe and London-PART 1-Budapest

Posted by Transit Action Network on February 21, 2011


TAN will post occasional “Transit and Travel” articles about other cities. This is the first of a three part series covering Budapest, Prague and London and some of the transit options and issues in these cities .

If you are interested in reporting on transit in other places, please let us know. Articles about your transit experiences are very welcome.  Contact us at TransActionKC@gmail.com

Report by Janet Rogers

View of Pest from the Fishermen's Bastion in Buda

Budapest, Prague and London were the heart of my recent trip to Europe.

NO. 16 bus approaching my hotel in Castle Hill

Budapest, Hungary. (city population 1.7 million, density 8,395 per sq mile, metro population 3.3 million–KCMO  density 1,408 per sq mile) The cities of Buda, on a hill west of the Danube, and Pest, on the flat plains to the east of the river, were joined together in 1873 to form Budapest. We stayed in the Castle Hill district of Buda, the traditional center of power for Hungarian kings. There are lovely little streets, Buda Castle, St Matyas Church and major museums in this area. Castle Hill also has a magnificent view of Pest.

Pest is the home of the current Hungarian government with significant sites, activities and the Vaci Utca, a street which is  the heart and soul of Budapest. Both Castle Hill and Vaci Utca have been pedestrianized so they are great for walkers.

A combination of public transit and walking is the best way to get around Budapest. Driving is the least desirable method since there are few parking places, traffic is terrible and there is a maze of one-way streets. There are riverboat services in the summer and tourist sightseeing boats much of the year. Some buses and subway stations are wheelchair accessible but the trams have a steep step.

View of Castle Hill, Buda from a sightseeing boat on the Danube

St Matyas Church, Castle Hill, Buda

Number 16 bus Budapest

The number 16 bus stopped by every 10 minutes or less outside our hotel. These small 20 seat buses dart everywhere and take you directly into the main square, Erzsebet Ter, in Pest. Pest has lots of interesting sites including the House of Terror, which chronicles both the Nazi and Russian occupations. The Jewish Great Synagogue is the largest in Europe and was not bombed in WWII since the Nazis used it as a headquarters and the Allies wouldn’t bomb it because it was the center of the Jewish ghetto.  Make sure to see the tree size Holocaust Memorial built like a menorah with the names of holocaust victims on the metal leaves.

All of Budapest’s bridges and 80 percent of the buildings were bombed or damaged in WWII. Budapest was rebuilt to retain it’s pre-war splendor. There are numerous monumental buildings and not one skyscraper.

Holocaust memorial

The Hungarian Parliament opened in 1902 and is one of the finest Neo-Gothic buildings in Europe. The Parliament and St. Stephen’s Basilica are the tallest buildings in the city. There are some Soviet era stark block style buildings but just ignore them.

From Castle Hill  people often choose to walk down the long flight of steps then walk across the Danube on the Chain Bridge into Pest. On the return journey there is a funicular to take you back up Castle Hill.

Budapest_Funicular and Chain Bridge

Our hotel gave us a free one-day pass on the HOP ON HOP OFF city tour bus that weaves through Budapest. This city is spread out so this tourist bus is worth it, if you get a reduced price, to get your bearings early in your visit. It includes a taped commentary between stops in 16 languages. The Hungarians are extremely helpful and most of them, especially the younger adults, speak English.

HOP ON HOP OFF bus Budapest

View of Parliment building from the Danube

Budapest has a rich heritage in transit. Their subway is the oldest one on the continent, only two years younger than London. However, the whole Budapest subway system (METRO) was electrified before London converted one line. Londoners were still choking on smoke. There are three subway lines and a fourth to open soon.

The original  yellow subway line, completed in 1896 with three carriages, goes directly up Andrassy Street, the main boulevard with designer shops, the magnificent State Opera and Hero’s Square. We went to a matinee at the State Opera, a Neo-Renaissance masterpiece completed in 1884 when money was not a problem.The interior is a study in opulence and grandeur and rivals any other opera house in the world. With state subsidizes it is far less expensive to go to a full opera than a short concert in the churches. There are tours of the building if opera isn’t your thing.

Yellow line-oldest subway on the continent-Budapest

Budapest Transport System (BKV) has a mixture of buses (258 routes), subways (METRO-3 lines), trams (30 lines), commuter trains (HEV-4 lines)  and rubber tire trolleys (trolleybuses-15) and it works together very well.

The actual tourist coaches, which we didn’t ride, are huge Mercedes Benz buses, very elegant and full of Russian tourists.

St. Stephen's Basilica-Budapest

Good transit should make it easy to reach important destinations and Budapest does an excellent job meeting that demand for the locals as well as tourists.

One evening we attended a concert at the magnificent St. Stephen’s Basilica. Our bus stop was about three blocks away and numerous people were walking to their destinations alone in central Pest, including young women.

In Budapest and London, taxis and bicycles are allowed to share the bus lanes.

Janet at the subway station directly outside the State Opera

Subway station at the State Opera-Pest

Inside the State Opera house-Budapest

Using the transit system is easy if you take a few minutes to become familiar with the  Hungarian names and don’t try to use maps that convert to English.  The system uses little paper tickets that have to be purchased in advance. Passes and tourist passes (Budapest Card)  are available but you need to use them a lot to make them worthwhile. The subways usually had several guards standing around to watch that you have a ticket and punch it. However, a lot of people risk riding the buses/trams for free since enforcement is erratic (you will get a fine if caught without at a ticket). The fares were raised a few years ago and a lot of people stopped paying. The system is losing a lot of transit revenue. BKV estimates 10% of riders don’t purchase a ticket. It looked to me that everyone had a ticket for the subway but few had tickets on the buses/trams.

There are ticket punches on the buses/trams but hardly ever used. The buses/trams  have no way to count ridership since people are allowed to enter  at both the front and back doors without punching a ticket or swiping a pass. BKV intends to purchase fare boxes and get swipe cards some time in the future. Due to limited funding the system is struggling to modernize both the vehicles and the fare collection system.

Articulated Rubber tire streetcar-Pest

Articulated Rubber Tire Streetcar 2-Pest

Riverside Tram-Pest

Transit is easy, plentiful, clean, frequent and a good buy for us, even if expensive to locals.  Make sure you either buy tickets (single or in a book) or buy a pass in advance. Tickets are available many places including metro stations, newsstands, BKV kiosks and post offices. There is no transfer policy.

Sign outside a bar in Budapest

Here is a very interesting blog about the transit system from the Budapest Survival Kit.

http://everythingbudapest.eu/Budapest_Survival_Kit/Budapest_Metros_Trams_Trolleys_and_Buses.html

Next stop, Prague.

Photos by Bill and Janet Rogers, except for the funicular

Hero's Square-Budapest

Bill at Hero's Square-Pest

Advertisements

Posted in Transit and Travel | Leave a Comment »

KCATA Board of Commissioners meeting 1/26/11

Posted by Transit Action Network on February 11, 2011


1. Kansas City has released the Preliminary Budget for Fiscal Year 2011-12.

KCATA budget from the ½ cent transportation fund is $1.98 million more than the previous budget. (Note: This is 75% of the revenue after TIF and City administration costs.)  General Manager Mark Huffer reported that he has been told that the city may be able to reach the 95% mark required by the new ordinance as soon as next year, which would be a year earlier than required.

2. The Board of Commissioners authorized a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with MARC, the City of Kansas City, Missouri and Jackson County concerning implementation of the regional Alternatives Analysis (AA) Studies using $1.8 million in federal grant funding.

The MOU allocates the funding as follows:

Corridor Study Federal Funds Local Funds Source of Match
Downtown Streetcar AA $540,000 $135,000 Kansas City, Missouri
Commuter Corridors AA $1,260,000 $315,000 Jackson County

Other key points in the MOU are as follows:

• MARC will serve as FTA grant recipient,

• MARC, KCATA, the City of Kansas City and Jackson County will serve as a partnership team overseeing AA efforts,

• KCATA and the City will lead the downtown streetcar AA, and

• MARC and Jackson County will lead the commuter corridors AA

3. KCATA has $10.4 million in a federal grant for public transit improvements in the State Avenue corridor, which extends from the 10th and Main Street transit center in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, through downtown Kansas City, Kansas, to the Village West area in western Wyandotte County.

Key components of the project include:

• 7th Street and Minnesota Avenue Transit Center

• 47th and State Avenue (Indian Springs) Transit Center/Park & Ride

• State Avenue Corridor Transit & Access Improvements

• State Avenue Corridor Branding

The Board authorized a contract with BHC Rhodes, Inc., for Architectural and Engineering (A&E) Design Services for State Avenue Corridor Transit Improvements.

4. Update on the Comprehensive Service Analysis – Nelson Nygaard

The CSA is an in-depth, technical study of the system’s effectiveness and will result in system-wide and route-level recommendations for improved efficiencies and service delivery.

Mr. Geoff Slater, Project Manager with Nelson Nygaard, provided a project update and discussed the next efforts of the CSA.

Public involvement is scheduled spring or early summer. See the presentation KCATA_CSABoard0111.

5.  Emerick Cross, Interim Transit Manager of Unified Government Transit in Wyandotte County thanked KCATA for its help in the recently completed Comprehensive Service Analysis. See the 2010-UG Transit Comprehensive Service Analysis.

Posted in Local Transit Issues, Meeting Reports, Transit Studies | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

KC Mayoral Transit Forum Day 6

Posted by Transit Action Network on February 5, 2011


Questions 6    Kansas City receives almost nothing for transit from Missouri. A new Federal Transportation Bill is due in Congress. How will you work with the legislature to increase Kansas City’s share of transit funding

a.     at the state level?

b.     at the federal level?

Sly_ James

Sly James www.slyjamesformayor.com

First, I will work with our state and federal representatives to generate a cogent legislative plan.  I will communicate regularly with our representatives, not simply when we need something from them.  Building stronger relationships with these representatives is key.  As mayor, I will work to ensure that we work together with our state and federal representatives to achieve realistic goals, both short and long-term.  I am proud to be endorsed by State Representative Jason Kander.

Second, we will fully utilize our city’s state and federal lobbyists.  Political and economic realities indicate that funding from the state and federal governments will be scare.  Federal earmarks should be considered a thing of the past, requiring our lobbyists to advocate for programmatic legislative solutions that would help a medium-size city like Kansas City to benefit from any Federal Transportation Bill.  For example, our lobbyists must advocate for state and federal funding formulas that benefit cities like Kansas City.  This would have been helpful for Kansas City when the U.S. Congress was drafting the Federal Stimulus Legislation.  If we had advocated for more beneficial federal funding formulas, lobbying with similar cities, we could have received a greater share of the funds.

Finally, as mayor, I will forge stronger relationships with regional governmental leaders, from Topeka to St. Louis.  I will reach out to government and business leaders on both sides of State Line to work together lobbying for regional solutions.

Henry_Klein

Henry Klein www.kleinforkansascity.com

a. For a host of reasons, we have not been getting our share of state funding.  St. Louis seems to understand how to secure funds much better than we do.  That has to change.

b. Our best avenue for this is going to be with our lobbyists and with congressional representatives.

Deb Hermann

Deb Hermann www.debhermannformayor.com

a. Again, a regionaI, coordinated effort is necessary.  Transit needs to be a priority.  I will be very engaged in Jefferson City.

b. Similarly, it is only fair that the federal government begin to provide support as they do for other municipalities.  Transit needs to be a priority and the effort regional.

Mike Burke

Mike Burke www.burke4kc.com

One of my first actions as mayor would be to revamp how the city lobbies in Washington and Jefferson City.  We need a more regional approach to issues such as transit that impact our region.  The city should reach out to suburban governments and chambers to form a joint lobbying position.

Jim Rowland http://jimrowland.com

Jim Rowland

a. In general, not just on transit issues, Kansas City frequently loses out to St. Louis in winning funds from the State.  This is directly attributable to a lack of leadership from the current mayor, who has been unnecessarily antagonistic.  I will work collaboratively with Kansas City’s legislative delegation and people from around the state to protect our city’s interests.  I have always believed that real leadership is about bringing a diverse group of people together and uniting them around a common purpose.  I will be a frequent presence in Jefferson City, cultivating relationships, and stressing Kansas City’s economic importance to the state.

b. Kansas City is fortunate to be represented by several excellent members of Congress.  Again, new leadership that is capable of working with—rather than against—others will be essential.  I have a proven record of bringing people together to get things done, and will use that skill set in our federal lobbying efforts.  If we are to achieve real progress on transit in Kansas City, support from the federal government will be essential.  Securing that support will be a high priority for me.

Mayor Mark Funkhouser

Mayor Funkhouser www.reelectmayorfunkhouser.com

a. Our state lobbyists are working hard with our state representatives and senators to make sure KC gets the fair share of what transit funding might be available.

b. Kansas City is actively seeking federal transit funding. That was the source of the $27 million for the Troost Max line and the sidewalk and road reconstruction in the Green Impact Zone in 2010. U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James L. Oberstar visited Kansas City in October 2010 to hear about Kansas City’s transit and infrastructure needs.  The City is working aggressively with our federal lobbyists to secure more federal funding for city transit.

TAN hopes you have benefited from this online transit forum. Please continue to comment and ask questions regarding the candidate’s responses. We will inform the candidates of additional comments or questions throughout the campaign. We thank the candidates for their participation in this forum and encourage them to read the comments and answer questions from our readers.


Posted in Local Transit Issues | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

KC Mayoral Transit Forum Day 5

Posted by Transit Action Network on February 4, 2011


Question 5   Jackson County, MARC, and KCATA will consider alternatives for improving commuter transit service within Jackson County through a federal Alternatives Analysis study, which should be concluded within the next two and a half years. The study will evaluate various bus and rail alternatives from Blue Springs and Lee’s Summit to downtown Kansas City.

a.    Would you support implementation of the preferred alternative from this study regardless of whether the choice is bus or rail? Please explain your answer.

b.    Would you support a countywide tax to support implementation of the preferred alternative from this study?

c.     If so, what would be needed to assure Kansas City voters’ support?

d.     If you would not support a countywide tax, please explain why.

Deb Hermann

Deb Hermann www.debhermannformayor.com

a. There is not yet a concrete proposal to comment on.  I am more interested in a comprehensive transit program that serves the most citizens whether bus, rail, or a combination of both.  This is critical to the quality of life of our citizens, economic development, and the environment.  I am very interested in the commuter rail proposal of Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders and would hope that this proposal gets very serious study.

b. See above

c. Confident and strong support from the political and civic community is imperative and the first priority.  Our citizens have been confused by a myriad of plans and varied support of the leadership.  We need a plan we all can get behind and convey that to our citizens.

All citizens need to understand how any plan will make life better for everyone in Kansas City.

d. See above

Mike Burke

Mike Burke www.burke4kc.com

a. I support the Alternatives Analysis study for commuter rail and eagerly await its findings.  I believe that a commuter rail system must be complimented by a well-planned hub and feeder system and would want to make sure that the system served Kansas City residents as well as suburban commuters.

b. If the system meets the above criteria, I would support a tax to fund it.

Jim Rowland

Jim Rowland http://jimrowland.com

a. Provided that the study is conducted in an impartial, objective, rigorous, and scientific way, I would support its outcome.  I strongly believe that public policy should be guided by empirical data and serious analysis.  Analysis should not be used to simply justify a pre-determined conclusion, but to help us determine the best strategy for achieving our goals.

b. If the elected officials of Jackson County feel that a countywide tax is necessary, I would not oppose them.

c. Just as in any tax vote, Kansas Citians would need to be assured that the tax would help solve an important problem, that Kansas City would be treated fairly in the deal, and that the revenues generated would be well-spent.

Mayor Mark Funkhouser

Mayor Funkhouser www.reelectmayorfunkhouser.com

a. I support the transit study. However, I think the study should be a part of what, ultimately, must be a regional transit network. Jackson County’s commuter proposal could be an important part of a regional system.

b. It would depend on the study results and the feasibility of its inclusion in a regional system.

Sly_ James

Sly James www.slyjamesformayor.com

My support and advocacy for public transit has always been driven by facts and whether or not I support the preferred alternative will be based on the contents of the study’s results.  I am not biased in one way or the other when it comes to bus or rail as a preferred mode of transit.

Although I do not support any tax increases at this time due to the budget crisis we’re facing in Kansas City and the ongoing economic recession, I am a transit advocate and will be supportive of thoughtful proposals to improve public transit.

To be clear, we have a lot of work to do with Kansas City and Jackson County voters before we ask them to open up their pocketbooks for a new tax.

First, we must restore trust in City Hall and confidence that we are spending tax dollars wisely. As I mentioned before, I will make sure that money goes to the purpose specified by voters.  For example, I will make sure that the tax revenue voters devoted to the KCATA gets to the KCATA.  Withholding such devoted funds breeds the type of widespread distrust of City Hall that must be fixed.

Henry_Klein

Henry Klein www.kleinforkansascity.com

a. Yes, provided that the return on investment (roi) was better from the one chosen.

b.  Possibly, again provided the return on investment made sense.

c.  The issue here is simply that we have to assure voters that the overall cost of the system is something we can afford and provides a net overall positive good to the city and the county.

Day 6   State and Federal Transit Issues

Posted in Local Transit Issues | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

KC Mayoral Transit Forum Day 4

Posted by Transit Action Network on February 3, 2011


Questions 4   Expansion of transit service outside Kansas City has been under discussion for some time, and one approach is for counties to establish their own transit funding mechanisms.  Suppose Jackson County were to propose a 1/10-cent countywide sales tax to fund transit improvements in the near term. The tax would primarily, though not exclusively, fund intra-regional buses in commuter corridors.

a.    Would you support county tax levies for transit?

b.    If so, what would be needed to assure Kansas City voters’ support?

c.     If you would not support county tax levies for transit, please explain why.

Mike Burke

Mike Burke www.burke4kc.com

a. If Jackson County proposed a transit tax and a startup system, I would need to know how it interfaced with city transit systems and what form of governance before I could endorse it. I would also want to make sure that a one county tax would not adversely impact the ability to develop a more comprehensive multicounty system.

Jim Rowland

Jim Rowland http://jimrowland.com

a. I will work collaboratively with Jackson County and other metropolitan governments to find solutions on this issue.  Whether the County would move forward with an initiative like the one outlined above is for its elected leaders to determine.  I am concerned about taxes in general, in that some people view them as the only solution.  I was able to create comprehensive Citywide recycling without a tax increase after previous councils failed multiple times with implementing the program through a sales tax election. I mention this only to demonstrate the point that it is sometimes possible to achieve our goals without making taxation the option of first resort.

b. Just as in any tax vote, Kansas Citians would need to be assured that the tax would help solve an important problem, that Kansas City would be treated fairly in the deal, and that the revenues generated would be well-spent.

Mayor Mark Funkhouser

Mayor Funkhouser www.reelectmayorfunkhouser.com

a. While individual county taxes would help with the funding gap, transit needs to be addressed by the region collectively.  I support an integrated, regional, multi-modal public mass transit system. I would consider supporting a ballot measure for a regional dedicated tax for mass transit if it met the following criteria:

  • Funded by the entire region.
  • Integrated into the existing transportation network.
  • Multi-modal, including commuter rail, modern streetcars, light rail, bus, BRT, and bicycle and pedestrian trails.
  • Centered on downtown Kansas City, Missouri.
  • Robust enough to provide excellent access to all major nodes and employment centers in the region.

I support MARC’s regional Smart Moves initiative. We, as a region, should work collaboratively under the leadership of MARC, in order to aggressively seek federal funding and work with our federal delegation for more federal funding for public transit.

Sly_ James

Sly James www.slyjamesformayor.com

Although I do not support any tax increases at this time, I do not want to take this idea off of the table.  Our transit system is a regionally utilized service and should be improved, and funded, accordingly.

I’ve been a strong advocate for public transit and will continue to be as mayor.  However, we need to restore the public’s trust in City Hall before we ask for additional tax dollars.  The city’s plan to withhold $5.4 million in tax revenue intended for KCATA is simply unacceptable and represents a systemic problem with the way our city conducts business.  Withholding funds that have been allocated by voters for a specific purpose continues to breed the type of widespread distrust of City Hall that must be fixed.  Our budget must always reflect the priorities of the citizens of Kansas City, not simply the priorities of our bureaucracy.

Henry_Klein

Henry Klein www.kleinforkansascity.com

a. I would be willing to consider it.

b.That the return on investment to the city exceeded the cost.

Deb Hermann

Deb Hermann www.debhermannformayor.com

a. My support would depend upon how such proposed coverage paid for by the tax affected all of Kansas City and its residents.  I would expect that if support is regional, so should be the governing process.

b. The political and civic community must provide a united front with strong support.  Again, it would depend upon how equivalent that tax was to the transit coverage provided.  The governing process would also have to be fair to all our residents.

Day 5 The Jackson County Commuter Corridor Alternatives Analysis

Posted in Local Transit Issues | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

KC Mayoral Transit Forum Day 3

Posted by Transit Action Network on February 2, 2011


Question 3   Money is the main barrier to improving transit in the Northland and other outlying areas. How would you address this problem without decreasing transit service in the central core?

Mayor Mark Funkhouser

Mayor Funkhouser www.reelectmayorfunkhouser.com

Kansas City successfully won $27 million in federal funding for the Troost MAX bus Line. This is a good example of how we expand our bus service with funding sources that don’t come directly from the city taxpayers. We must continue to pursue regional funding and actively seek federal funding for transit.

Sly_ James

Sly James www.slyjamesformayor.com

As mayor, I will consider transit improvements as part of a long-term, comprehensive plan that brings to the table neighborhoods, businesses, regional governments, school district officials, and other civic leaders from every part of the city to create a plan that benefits every part of the city and one that considers the special and specific needs of the diverse areas of the city.

Henry_Klein

Henry Klein www.kleinforkansascity.com

I would like to use this question to present to TAN the alternative proposal I made to the RTA this past week.  In presenting this plan, I would like both TAN, RTA and the city as a whole to consider another option for a 21st Century transit idea that could be implemented very fast, very affordably, offer dramatically increased frequency and prevent us from the kinds of disappointments we have had in the past in expanding our transit options.  The plan below can both stand on its own or “plug and play” with both the streetcar and/or Jackson County commuter transit proposals.

The points to the plan include –
1) Rightsizing the Equipment/Buses used in the System.  Currently, we do not have the correct size buses for the routes we run.
2) Expanded Use of Hybrid/NG/Electric buses – the same factors that will potentially drive greater ridership could also raise our costs to prohibitive levels.  In conjunction with the other points of this plan, we will likely need to get special federal support.  This support will likely be come if we have a comprehensive plan such as this.
3) Integration with BRT (bus rapid transit) plans on both sides of the stateline
4) An ATA run “Private Investment for Public Good” routes extension
a) Specifically – we create two systems – one that we run as we currently do, and a second, where we bid out certain routes to the private sector so as to expand the system
5) Creating Alternatives to 1 and 2 car ownership through partnerships such as ZipCar
a) Making certain that Zipcar stations are conveniently and strategically located within the transit system
6) An NRG style electric refueling system like the one being set up in Houston
a) Specifically, NRG will be installing charging stations for electric cars in homes as well as have recharging stations throughout Houston.   Consumers will pay $80/month for this.  When you match this to the cost of fossil fuel (gasoline), this becomes an interesting and viable alternative.

Note: All of this would be tremendously helpful in transit to/from the Northland.

Deb Hermann

Deb Hermann www.debhermannformayor.com

If we expect a tax to be acceptable to our residents, then the coverage paid for by that tax will need to be sufficient to cover all of the City.  If the coverage is only of the downtown and Jackson County, then the voters of Clay and Platte County will not accept it.  We will need to find some method of providing service to those residents.

Again, legislative efforts need to be more aggressive and regional.

Mike Burke

Mike Burke www.burke4kc.com

The Northland needs a more centrally located and inviting transit hub where Max lines and feed  routes connect. Efficiencies could be achieved through right sizing equipment and routes.

Jim Rowland

Jim Rowland http://jimrowland.com

Money to finance transit expansion is certainly one issue, but it is closely related to the issue of density.  Expanding transit offerings in the Northland and other outlying areas is so expensive because these areas are low in density, especially when compared with the central city.  My administration will work to heighten density in strategic places and ways, in order to provide the “market” needed to make transit a cost-effective option.  As noted above, we also must work on promoting a culture where transit is a logical, viable option.

Retaining current service levels in the central city is absolutely essential, because a sizable population in the central city relies on public transit as their primary mode of transportation to work, home, and play.

Day 4 we start regional questions!

Posted in Local Transit Issues | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

KC Mayoral Transit Forum Day 2

Posted by Transit Action Network on February 1, 2011


Question 2   Kansas City and KCATA will evaluate a proposed downtown streetcar through a federal Alternatives Analysis within the next year or so. If it qualifies for federal support, Kansas City will need to identify funding for the city’s share of the capital cost and for operations.

a.    If you support the proposed downtown streetcar, how should it be funded? Please explain your funding choice.

b.    If you do not support the proposed downtown streetcar, please explain why.

Henry_Klein

Henry Klein www.kleinforkansascity.com

a. Since the alternatives study has just been funded, I’m going to need to see more from the study including feasibility.  I am very concerned both about the ultimate cost of the downtown streetcar – both in terms of cost to build and cost to maintain.  I could be persuaded to support this but I need to see the cost benefit analysis.

Deb Hermann

Deb Hermann www.debhermannformayor.com

a. Funding alternatives from the general fund are difficult, especially with the current budget.  However, the huge cost of building and maintaining roads in Kansas City has to be included in the conversations about transit and the streetcar.  The optimal method would be some sort of regional tax where it was supported by a multi-county area.  It will probably require a mix of revenue sources.  We will need to be diligent and creative.

Our legislative (federal and state) efforts could be more aggressive, strategic and effective.  We need to have a regional legislative transit (including the street car) effort.

Mike Burke

Mike Burke www.burke4kc.com

a. While I support the concept of a downtown streetcar, I will defer judgment on funding until the Alternatives Analysis is complete.  I believe that the question of funding a transit system is not a piecemeal proposition.  We should look at funding an integrated system, not individual components.

Jim Rowland

Jim Rowland http://jimrowland.com

a. If the downtown streetcar receives federal funding, I would be supportive of it and identify a funding source for it.  Even if selected for federal funding, it would likely be several years before those dollars materialized, during which time the City’s financial picture may change substantially.  Depending on the financial conditions of the City, I would consider funding capital costs through the capital improvements program, the General Fund, or the transit tax.  Although I am strongly supportive of transit initiatives, including the downtown streetcar, I do not believe that the City should be called upon to bear the whole cost of these efforts by itself.

Mayor Mark Funkhouser

Mayor Funkhouser www.reelectmayorfunkhouser.com

a. A voter-approved, regional tax should be dedicated for this project.

Sly_ James

Sly James www.slyjamesformayor.com

a. To be clear, while I support the idea of a downtown streetcar, I am generally hesitant about committing our city to any new, costly enterprise.  We have an ongoing budget crisis, a multi-million dollar backlog of deferred maintenance, and a mandated combined sewer overhaul project that will cost at least $2.5 billion over the next 25 years.

Having said that, if a downtown streetcar provides a short-term benefit while also providing part of a long-term solution to our public transit needs, it is worth consideration.  I would want to be convinced, of course, that such a project would pay for itself over time and generate revenue for the city.

One of the challenges I believe we face with any large-scale project is that our citizens don’t trust how we are taking in money or giving it out. With that in mind, I will re-establish the Citizens’ Commission on Municipal Revenue.

Posted in Local Transit Issues | Tagged: | 2 Comments »