Transit Action Network (TAN)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sly_ James

Sly James

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.


2 Responses to “KC Mayoral Transit Forum Day 2”

  1. Suzanne said

    If the whole city of Kansas City won’t pay for a rail starter line, why would the whole region pick up the tab? We have been waiting for the region to get its transit act together for over a decade, when Smart Moves was first rolled out. Assuming the streetcar even beats the buses in the federal study, I would hate to put off having a streetcar because we have to wait for some big whole regional scheme. Don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen. If we want a two-mile streetcar in the downtown corridor, which would cost a tiny fraction of the last 14-mile light rail idea, then maybe we should look at a smaller group of voters not a larger group. Maybe try a Transit Development District close to the rail line since those are the only people who consistently vote for rail, since they will have the greatest benefit. Maybe do something with all the businesses that will benefit.

  2. Bill said

    I have two questions that relate to the fact that fares only bring in a fraction the operating costs of public transit both locally and nationally. Both public transit and roads are subsidized.
    1. For Henry Klein- How would you measure the benefits of the downtown street car to see if it met your cost benefit requirement to decide if you would support it, since many of the benefits of public transit are intangible, like the ability to move large numbers of people through the downtown corridor in an effective manner?
    2. For Sly James- What revenue mechanism do you have in mind when you say that you would want a project like the downtown streetcar to “pay for itself over time and generate revenue for the city”? How do you see that happening?
    Thank you.

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