Transit Action Network (TAN)

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

KCATA Board Of Commissioners Meeting 2/23/11

Posted by Transit Action Network on March 7, 2011

1. Congratulations to Robbie Makinen for being elected the new KCATA Chairman of the Board of Commissioners. Mr Makinen is Economic Development Coordinator for Jackson County and the Jackson County representative on the Board.

2.. The Board of Commissioners approved the KCATA FY 2012 federal appropriations funding request of $6 million in federal transit capital funds for new buses.

The primary categories from which federal funds are derived are formula funds and discretionary funds.  Congress and the President have announced that there will be no discretionary funds or “earmarks” for FY 2012.  KCATA has traditionally been very successful in attaining discretionary funds for bus replacement and other critical capital needs. While Congress has committed to eliminating earmarks in 2012, KCATA’s Congressional delegation has requested that KCATA’s priorities for capital funding for fiscal year 2012 be submitted to them, nevertheless.

KCATA staff met with Senator Blunt’s staff. They requested that KCATA submit normal earmark request forms to help the Senator prioritize capital needs around the State.  Sustaining basic services and maintaining the existing fleet are the highest priorities for 2012.  With more than 30 buses in need of replacement, KCATA has an ongoing need to replace buses that have exceeded their useful life.

3. The Board of Commissioners approved the revised strategic priorities. Two documents were presented.

 

KCATA Strategic Priorities 2011

The first document identified the updated Strategic Priorities and Mission and Vision Statements, as well as priority areas identified by senior staff.  The document intends to capture the overall strategic direction for the Authority.  Although it can be updated periodically, the vision and overall priorities are intended to remain relatively stable over time.

The second document, KCATA 2011 Blueprint – Feb 23, 2011, identified a series of actions that support the priorities.  Mark Huffer pointed out that many of these action items will carry over into subsequent years, others are part of daily operations, and others will be completed in 2011. This document should be updated on an annual basis, as existing projects get completed and new ones are identified.

Three items of particular interest on the blueprint were discussed.

a. Under Technology -The 5 year strategic plan for technology development. The new Smart Card technology available for fare boxes provides more flexibility and information. Also, the new generation of riders has higher expectations for KCATA to provide real-time information though mobile devices.

b. Under Capital Improvements-KCATA needs to revise the Fleet Replacement Plan due to the possibility of losing funding.

c. Under Environmental Responsibility-The need to develop a board policy toward alternative fuels was discussed. There is concern about compressed natural gas (CNG) because of its volatility. The current KCATA facilities would not be suitable for CNG. Also 2011 diesel emissions are comparable to CNG emissions. Cost, danger, return on investment and volatility all need to be considered.

4. Mell Henderson of MARC and Mark Swope of Olsson Associates briefed the board on the current Smart Moves update, planned activities and expected outcomes. Smart Moves is the long-term regional vision for improving and expanding transit in the metropolitan area. MARC is leading an update focused on strategies for implementing the transit improvements envisioned in Smart Moves. This current work will build upon previous regional transit planning work. Public engagement is expected by May.   Regional Transit Implementation Plan Phase III Presentation 2/23/2011

5 Bill Brown, federal lobbyist for the Missouri Public Transit Association, attended the meeting to provide the Board with his perspective on the current Washington landscape and what the public transit industry should expect and be prepared for in 2012 and beyond.

The Presidents proposed 2012 budget calls for a significant increase in funding for public transit, high-speed rail, and Amtrak.  The Administration also proposes fundamental changes to the transit funding, as well as several new programs.  Conversely, several House committees are proposing drastic budget cuts for many domestic programs, including transit in 2012.

In the meantime, the 2011 federal budget has not been approved.  The transportation authorization bill expired in 2009 and there are no signs that a new bill is imminent. The Administration and Congress say there will be no earmarks this year – a source of funding that has been very important to KCATA.  All these considerations lead to great uncertainty in regards to planning and funding new transit projects.

Bill was adamant, in his opinion, that funding for high-speed rail will be cut.

6. UMKC students voted in favor of a new activity fee. Students will receive a KCATA bus pass for $14/term ($28/year). This pass goes into effect Fall 2011. It will generate over $186,000 per year for KCATA and will be reviewed in one year.

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