Transit Action Network (TAN)

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

Archive for June, 2012

Independence Revises Its Local Transit Routes – IndeBus

Posted by Transit Action Network on June 29, 2012

Independence changes its local routes effective July 2, 2012. Along with new buses and a new contract operator, First Transit, the routes are changing significantly. Fares will remain the same.

View schedules and maps, and watch a video explaining the system at the IndeBus page on the Independence website.

The shift from KCATA to First Transit for the local routes will cost Independence about $14,000 more than previously, but the city calculates a 30% increase in transit miles and 30% more hours of service by eliminating the current 2-hour break in the middle of the day. Service will run until about 6:00 pm.

First Transit will also operate the local para-transit (IndeAccess), and local senior service (IndeAcess+) transportation services within Independence. These services replace the local Dial-A-Ride service. There is a new photo ID and coupon program for qualified riders. KCATA will continue to provide the Share-A-Fare para-transit service from Independence into Kansas City and Share-A-Fare services will continue to be available in most of Independence.

KCATA will continue to provide inter-city service connecting Independence to Kansas City on routes 24 and 15X (previously the 24X). Check the new Metro schedules.

Beginning July 2nd, all questions for IndeBus, IndeAccess, and IndeAccess+ will be answered by First Transit at 461-IBUS (4287).  For questions related to the 24 and 15x Routes or ShareAFare, riders can continue to call the KCATA Regional Call Center. Independence is currently including transfer information in its local training for the 461-IBUS call center.  First Transit operators should work through alternatives for transfers and trips with riders. Independence is not contracting with the Regional Call Center to provide information about their local buses. The Regional Call Center can answer questions about all the Metro services.

Explaining the route changes and new operator, Independence Director of Community Development Jennifer Clark said, “Independence is responding to rider demand and interests. This is a rider focused model and reflects the best interests of the community.”

Improvements to the system include having a full time employee responsible for the Transit Center at Truman and Noland Roads to make sure it is clean and functioning. In addition, the new local buses will have two wheelchair slots instead of one. Buses all have GPS, and an app from TransLoc will be available for real-time information about buses using a smart phones. Check the city website to download the app in July.

At this point there is a compatibility problem between the Metro and IndeBus fareboxes, but the two system operators are working with the farebox vendor to resolve the problem. The solution may not be in place by July 2nd, in which case riders using both systems will be instructed on how to use a transfer or monthly pass.

For more information watch Clark’s presentation about the new transit system to the Independence City Council on June 25. Her presentation starts at 24:36 minutes into the video and lasts about 17 minutes.

The City Council Transit Committee plans to initiate a public input process. Although it hasn’t been defined yet, it will represent a mix of interests such as riders, residents and businesses, and will report back to the Transit Committee on matters such as efficiency of operations and customer satisfaction. We think this committee is a good idea, and that all transit agencies should have a similar stakeholder committee that meets regularly to provide feedback.

One cloud still hanging over the new service is whether Independence will receive a share of federal funds that come to the Kansas City region through KCATA for its local routes. Currently the cost of the transit service provided to Independence by KCATA is offset by approximately $600,000 annually,  $400,000 of which is allocated for local routes.

Two issues affect this money.

  1. KCATA is in the process of defining a formula to distribute or apply these federal funds throughout the region, and Independence may qualify for less money under the new formula, especially since they are using a private operator.
  2. Section 13c of the Federal Transit Law protects public transportation workers if operations are shifted to a private provider. This law could be used to prevent Independence from receiving this money for the local routes.  Jonothan Walker, president of local 1287 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, has told us the ATU is working on several fronts, including monitoring Independence’s use of these federal funds.  “None of the new service shall receive funding except private. If Independence tries to use it (federal funds) for expansion of lines and for private use, they may find our ATU International legal team involved.” See our previous article for more information Independence Ponders Transit Options (Dec 6, 2011).

Independence was aware of these funding issues before contracting with First Transit, and is monitoring the funding situation.  TAN is concerned that if the federal funding is withheld from Independence, it would have a negative impact on transit service in Independence. We hope that Independence has a plan to deal with that situation if it happens, and that Independence riders are well served by their new local routes.


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

LIKE Us On Facebook

Posted by Transit Action Network on June 26, 2012

You have a new way to keep in touch with Transit Action Network and keep up with transit issues.

Since we got our nifty avatar for Twitter, we decided it was time to start a Facebook page.

Advantages of Facebook:

  • Our blog articles will be shared on Facebook, which makes them easy to share with your Facebook friends.
  • Facebook is a great platform to discuss transit issues — join in
  • Links to other interesting local and national articles about transit
  • Breaking transit news
  • Event pages for topical issues and events, which provide the transit community an online meeting place (Join our first event page “Save The JO”)
  • Facebook is great to share pictures and videos related to transit
  • It is a fast and easy way for us to share other important or interesting transit topics that might not be on the blog

LIKE us at

JOIN our “Save The JO” Event.

Invite your friends. Share what you are doing, including who you have contacted and their response. Share how these proposed cuts would affect you. Post pictures of the people on your bus and tell how these cuts will affect them. Be sure to come to the public meetings. Add your ideas on what to do to save these routes. Organize.

You still have three other great ways to keep in touch

1. The Transit Action Network website

  • The TAN website includes our in-depth analysis of local transit issues and our local videos on transit issues
  • In addition, follow a range of transit issues, including national transit issues, transit adventures and transit based travels
  • Sign up to receive an email whenever an article is posted, including a copy of the article. Sign-up in upper left-hand corner of the blog.
  • The emails are easy to forward to your email friends.
  • Post your comments on the blog. Your initial comment is moderated so there might be a delay.

2.  Follow us on Twitter –

  • Alerts about new blog posts
  • Breaking transit news
  • Retweets and links to interesting articles about transit
  • Ideas about where to go using transit in the Kansas City region
  • This and that about what’s going on in the local transit scene

3.  Email us at

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Jackson County Transit Study Takes a New Direction

Posted by Transit Action Network on June 25, 2012

Calvin Williford, Jackson County Chief of Staff, recently wrote to the Jackson County Commuter Corridors Partner Team describing new developments related to the study currently underway.  He said completion of the current commuter corridors study would be postponed and the County would move forward with a comprehensive transit plan. Letter_Partnership _Team

For almost two years everyone said the study would be completed and a “Locally Preferred Alternative” (LPA) would be decided in the June 2012 time frame.  In a bold step, and with a growing understanding of transit needs, Jackson County decided to wait for more information. The county’s ambitious target date for having a conceptual countywide transit plan in place is the end of July.

Part of the reason for the postponement is that another study, this one in the Highway 71 / Grandview corridor, is just beginning and the County wants to gain an understanding of transit alternatives in that corridor before making any decisions since all three corridors are interrelated.

The biggest reason for the postponement, though, is that a new rail alternative has become available for consideration — the possibility of getting commuter rail to Union Station.  This new alternative uses the Kansas City Terminal (KCT) Railway tracks to get into the area just north of Union Station. These are the tracks that Amtrak uses. It will be a big deal if the County can get the railroad to consider this. In the past KCT has always rejected the idea of accommodating commuter rail, and the cost of putting new tracks in that corridor would require expanding a number of bridges at an estimated cost of $1 billion.

This new KCT alternative is not without concerns. There are capacity issues since so many freight trains use these tracks daily. Therefore a capacity analysis has to be done first to see if this alternative is workable before formally evaluating this corridor for commuter service as part of the AA.  Because of existing challenges, it was assumed from the beginning that KCT would not allow commuter rail on its tracks. No previous study has been completed to estimate costs, ridership numbers or travel-time savings to Union Station using this route.

Will this rail alternative have significantly better quantitative results than the Third and Grand alternative?  We don’t know. The 2007 study of commuter rail in the I-70 corridor concluded: “Possible conflicts at Union Station with a high volume of freight traffic and Amtrak passenger service have a significant likelihood of negatively impacting commuter rail reliability, which is not acceptable when building ridership.”  If capacity issues can be resolved, then this route should definitely be studied. This route would likely be shorter and provide a more desirable terminus — factors that could improve ridership forecasts.

Like the Third and Grand location, this route would require other transit service (such as the Downtown Streetcar) to provide access to the Central Business District (CBD). However, in contrast to the Third and Grand alternative, there are thousands of jobs in the vicinity of a terminal at Union Station. Since there isn’t a fast direct route from the highways to Union Station, commuter rail on the KCT tracks might compete favorably in travel time with driving, provided they can increase the speed of rail. Of course an express bus will likely still be faster to the Government District and the rest of the CBD.

So that leaves the question of cost. Can Jackson County persuade the railroads to bring the cost of access to their tracks down far enough that even if ridership projections are low and the travel time to the CBD is slow, the overall cost of getting to Union Station will be acceptable? Wait and see. The County is working very hard to put this together.

Williford’s letter also mentions Jackson County’s commitment to developing a comprehensive county-wide transit strategy that includes “rail, buses and a well-connected trails system”. The commuter corridors study process has raised the County’s awareness of the huge transit and trail gaps in the county, and considering a comprehensive package to take to voters is a great idea. In order to develop such a strategy, a number of groups have been convened to look at particular parts of an overall multi-modal plan. MARC is working with trails advocates to develop a detailed trails plan that satisfies multiple users, and the KCATA will be taking the lead in configuring and costing a more extensive bus system following the “Smart Moves” concept. Transit Action Network is part of a committee to identify the transit gaps. The original project team is working with the railroads on the capacity study to get into Union Station, but Third and Grand remains a fallback location for rail.

In a recent public meeting Williford talked about Jackson County’s serious “transit deficits” and made the following specific points:

  1. Every community that has developed rail transit has started first with a robust bus system. “Buses are the backbone of every transit system in the country,” he said, citing the “cost effectiveness” of buses over rail.
  2. Service for the mobility-impaired is inadequate.
  3. You can’t get from Kansas City to Independence after 6:00 at night.

Williford also said that while economic development is important, the county is placing greater emphasis on mobility than it did earlier. We think it’s great that the County’s understanding of the transit issues in the region has developed and expanded.

In order to create a comprehensive plan the County needs to fit all the pieces together with a financial package to pay for it. The County has taxing authority up to a one-cent sales tax. The full tax would raise approximately $80 million, derived almost equally from Kansas City and the rest of the county.

As part of this process, the County realized that parks and trails are really important to people. In the recently concluded session of the Missouri legislature the County successfully sought taxing authority for another ¼ cent sales tax for trails and parks. Such a tax could raise about $20 million.

Jackson County has taken on a huge challenge: Create a plan for commuter transit in three corridors, supplemental transit to fill numerous transit gaps throughout the county, and a set of parks and trails amenities. We hope they can come up with a great package at a cost that’ll be a “no-brainer” for voters to support.

Posted in Local Transit Issues, Rail, Regional Transit Issue, Transit Studies | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Time To Vote Yes For Streetcar TDD

Posted by Transit Action Network on June 22, 2012

The ballots to form a Transportation Development District (TDD) have been mailed. If you are one of the 555 people who received a ballot, please send it in as soon as possible.

1. Look for an envelope labeled STREETCAR TDD BALLOT ENCLOSED.

2. Open the envelope and fill in the circle next to YES (ballots are optical scan, so heed all instructions!).

3. Seal the ballot in the enclosed blue return envelope.

4. Have ANY notary confirm your signature on the back of the envelope and make sure they stamp it.

5. Mail or hand-deliver the sealed, signed, and notarized envelope back to the Circuit Court Administrator.

Here’s a sample ballot:

After formation of the TDD, another vote will set the collection rates later this year. If you registered for a ballot, you should have it by now. Your bank has a Notary Public. If that isn’t convenient, then attend one of the Streetcar Neighbors sessions to get your ballot notarized:

10:30 a.m., Saturday, June 23 @ Mildred’s in the Crossroads (1821 Wyandotte)

12:00 p.m., Sunday, June 24 @ LatteLand in the Loop (1201 Main)

More sessions will be scheduled, so check their Facebook page

Ballots must be returned by 5 p.m. Tuesday, July 31. Results should be available by Aug. 3. A simple majority of ballots cast will form the district. Shortly afterward, a TDD Board will be appointed and will kick off all administrative tasks required by state statute.

The failure to receive a federal TIGER IV grant does not affect this vote. Kansas City had a really aggressive timeline for the streetcar and the feds felt we weren’t far enough along in the process to get a grant.

Two reasons:

– Local funding is not in place (this is the TDD)

– Engineering is not complete (will be completed this year)

TIGER grants are a relatively new method of funding transportation projects. They came out of the stimulus package and Congress likes them enough to have offered this money four times. There may or may not be another round of TIGER grants but if there is, Kansas City could apply again if needed. However, Mayor James said Kansas City is proceeding with the traditional method of funding transit projects. Since the projected cost of this project is $101 million it falls into the FTA Small Starts Program. An Alternatives Analysis is needed to apply for this money. The AA was completed in 2011 and all of that information can now be used to submit an application to the FTA.

The Small Starts Program is the normal way to apply for matching funds from the FTA. The TIGER grant was a new option that would have been faster. Other alternative funding sources may be pursued as well.

Here’s a statement from Mayor James. No one should change their vote, since not getting a TIGER grant is only a temporary setback.

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National Dump The Pump Day June 21

Posted by Transit Action Network on June 20, 2012

Thursday is a day to ride transit and celebrate saving money, reducing pollution and gaining independence from the gas pump.

Take a few minutes to use the Metros “The True Cost of Driving” calculator. This exercise will open your eyes about the cost of having a car.

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) has a great fact sheet for Dump the Pump day with lots of quick transit facts about how transit saves money, provides economic opportunities, saves fuel, reduces congestion and much more.

According to APTA’s Transit Saving Report, a two-person household can save, on the average, more than $10,000 a year by downsizing to one car.

The JO is celebrating by giving a prize to 10 riders. To enter the drawing, tell them on Facebook  how you dumped the pump.

Have fun tomorrow and join the celebration.

Posted in Action, Events | Leave a Comment »

Speak Out Against Proposed JO Service Cuts

Posted by Transit Action Network on June 19, 2012

“The proposed cuts would eliminate my ability to use the bus and without a car, I’d be entirely reliant on car pooling (to get to work). It’s very disheartening.”  — TAN advocate and JO rider when she saw the proposed cuts.

Johnson County Transit (JCT) has announced proposed service changes for 2013 (2013Change0614DRAFT). They plan to eliminate 8 routes and reduce or modify 9 other routes. There is time to save The JO. This is an  “opportunity” and “challenge” for riders to organize to both save and promote their routes, but be clear that these cuts are real and potentially permanent if they aren’t stopped.  There are public meetings with the Commissioners and Johnson County Transit but if you want to have an impact ACT NOW. Even if you don’t ride The JO but you care about transit in our region, please get involved.

1.    Contact the County Commissioners

  1. Although there are public hearings later in July, the Final Fiscal Year 2013 Budget discussions for the Commissioners are July 2-3, so contact them before that (continue to contact them after July 3rd)
  2. Tell them why The JO is important to you
  3. Ask them to make a long-term commitment to improving and expanding public transit in Johnson County
  4. Ask them to maintain, not cut, The JO service in 2013, since they are not cutting the funding in 2013
  5. Contact them at the phone numbers shown below or visit their website at and send an email.
  6. If you can, contact them again for a status report
Chairman: Ed Eilert (913) 715-0500
District 1: Ed Peterson  (913) 715- 0431
District 2: Jim Allen  (913) 715-0432
District 3: David Lindstrom (913) 715-0433
District 4: Jason Osterhaus (913) 715-0434
District 5: Michael Ashcraft (913) 715-0435
District 6: Calvin Hayden  (913) 715-0436

 2.    Use Social Media to contact both Johnson County Commissioners and JCT

  5. Let them know what you think about the proposed transit cuts
  6. Ask them to improve and expand public transit, not shrink it!

3.    Comments to JCT on proposed changes can be made via e-mail, phone, mail

  1. E-mail:
  2. Mail: Johnson County Transit, 1701 West 56 Highway, Olathe, Kansas 66061
  3. Phone: 913-715-8255 – record your message

 4.    Contact your mayor or councilperson in Johnson County

  1. Tell your local officials how important The JO is to you.
  2. Ask your city officials to contact the County Commissioners and JCT to maintain, improve and expand The JO

5.    Organize your bus

  1. Sign a petition to save your bus and deliver it to Johnson County Commissioners and a copy to JCT
  2. Attend the public meetings as a group with signs and an organized presentation

6.    Write letters to the Editor of the KC Star

  2. Mail to The Star, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, MO. 64108.
  3. Letters can be up to 200 words

7.    Attend Public Hearings to be held by Johnson County Transit

a.    DATES and TIMES:

  • Monday July 9, 2012, 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.
  • Wednesday July 11, 2012, 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

b.    LOCATION: Sylvester Powell Community Center at 6200 Martway in Mission, Kansas. (both hearings)

  1. Ask them not to make service cuts this year, since the budget doesn’t require it. These are “voluntary” cuts at this point. Don’t make major service cuts that aren’t absolutely necessary.
  2. Ask them to do a better job advertising the service. Several routes have poor ridership because no one knows they exist. Example: Route 667 is underused. Except for the new map/schedule poster at 6000 Lamar, the only visible evidence of this route is when one of the buses goes past.

8. EXTREMELY IMPORTANT: Attend the Final FY 2013 Budget public meeting with the Board of County Commissioners

a. DATE and TIME:  Monday July 23, 2012 at 7:00 p.m

b. LOCATION: BoCC meeting room, Johnson County Administration Building, 111 S. Cherry, Olathe, KS 66061

  1. Ask them to maintain The JO service level
  2. Ask them to expand and improve transit
  3. Tell them how important The JO is to people. (Without this public input, County budget cuts will be enacted for 2014 and beyond to match the reduced service levels.)

We previously described The JO’s budget problems (Save The JO – Contact JOCO Commissioners ). The 2013 budget being proposed has enough money for JCT to basically keep current service levels. Johnson County Transit (JCT) is cutting The JO service in 2013 because they’ve been told  that the money won’t be there in future years. At this point, these service reductions are mainly “voluntary”. Once the service is cut it will be much harder to get it back. We need to convince the Commissioners that one of the richest counties in the country needs to adequately fund public transit.

It will take public outcry to budge the County Commissioners and get them to reassure JCT that they will have ongoing funding to maintain service levels. The JO cuts are in response to direction from the Commissioners about the future.

A better solution involves the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners making a commitment to transit which improves and expands The JO. At present, The JO is primarily a commuter service into downtown Kansas City, but that service needs to expand to serve jobs, shopping, entertainment, education, medical and other activities within the county. Johnson County has been highly successful at attracting jobs, but it is almost impossible to get to most of those jobs by public transit. Johnson County’s lack of transit service is the main reason our region came out 90th of 100 cities in our ability to get to jobs using public transit in a 2011 Brookings Institution Report (How Our Region Should Respond to the Brookings Report). In addition to people who currently use The JO to get to work in Downtown Kansas City, more and more of the workers in Johnson County need this service to get to work.

Proposed service cuts for January 2013.

Routes Proposed for Elimination

  • Route 546/D – Johnson-Quivira
  • Route 667/E – Nall-Downtown
  • Route 669/I – KCK-Lenexa-Olathe
  • Route 672/M – JoCo-Downtown Midday
  • Route 676/P – Paola-Spring Hill-Olathe
  • Route 677/R – Downtown-Olathe
  • Route 810 – De Soto FlexRide
  • Route 816 – Spring Hill Shuttle

Routes Proposed for Service Modification and/or Reduction

  • Route 556 – Metcalf-Plaza: Modify route timing due to Transit Signal Priority; modify the 95th & Metcalf bus stop; modify service south of 119th Street.
  • Route 575 – 75th Street-Quivira: Eliminate five trips, reduce service frequency to 60 minutes during peak hours.
  • Route 660 – Antioch-Downtown: Eliminate earliest p.m. southbound trip; extend all trips to K-7 & Santa Fe.
  • Route 661 – Olathe Xpress: Adjust 5:55 a.m. northbound trip to start at 6:00 a.m.
  • Route 664 – Metcalf-Downtown: Eliminate two trips and adjust service to operate every 30 minutes, with “reverse commute” service every 60 minutes.
  • Route 670/L – Gardner-OP Xpress: Reduce “reverse commute” service and eliminate one southbound p.m. trip.
  • Route 673/N – South OP Xpress: Eliminate last southbound p.m. trip; add early southbound p.m. trip to reduce overcrowding.
  • Route 856 – Metcalf-Plaza Flex: Eliminate midday service south of 119th Street.
  • Route 875 – 75th Street-Quivira Flex: Consolidate the schedule to reduce travel time and allow less slack time for flex trips; adjust service frequency.

Additional information from the Johnson County Transportation Council meeting packet:

  • The Connex routes are being reduced with a goal to reduce service by $400,000 to ‘stretch’ the CMAQ funds through 2013. With the relocation of Wright Business College at 103rd and Metcalf, JCT had a 13% increase in ridership on the Connex routes during the first few weeks of the school term.
  • While not listed at this time, staff is also reviewing the impact of service reductions and/or elimination of the Route 812 – JO FLEX (operating within the City of Overland Park). At this point, staff’s primary concern is that Special Edition will be severely impacted by JO FLEX riders displaced by a potential reduction or elimination of the service.

Additional important JCT dates

  • July 30 – Deadline for submitting public input
  • July 30 – August 3 – JCT staff evaluate public input and prepare final service recommendations based on the estimated/proposed FY 2013 transit budget
  • August 9 – BOCC adopts FY 2013 Budget
  • August 14 – JCT staff presents final recommendations to JCTC at Council Meeting

Please contact your commissioners!!!

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“Premier” Smart Growth Conference Scheduled for KC – Call for Session Proposals

Posted by Transit Action Network on June 12, 2012

The Local Government Commission (LGC) is holding the 12th Annual New Partners for Smart Growth: Building Safe, Healthy and Livable Communities conference, February 7-9, 2013 in Kansas City, MO. The event will be held at the Kansas City Convention Center,

Transit Action Network in on the Local Planning Committee for the conference and will be involved in the sessions. Let us know if you have any questions or contact Dean Katerndahl, Director of Government Innovations Forum, Mid-America Regional Council, at

Smart growth is about building communities with housing and transportation options near jobs, shops, schools, and entertainment.  Smart growth strategies can create diverse transportation systems that serve more people, while fostering economic vitality for both businesses and communities.

The 12th Annual New Partners for Smart Growth conference program will feature cutting-edge policies, projects, programs and partnerships that address the challenges of implementing smart growth development principles.

This dynamic event started in San Diego in early 2002 and has grown in size and reputation and is now considered to be the “premier” smart growth conference held each year. Its unique multi-disciplinary approach brings together a diverse audience representing multiple sectors to network together, learn new tools and strategies, hear the latest research and best practices and case studies, and to form new partnerships to create safer, healthier, and more livable communities everywhere. For more details on this event, visit

A formal Call for Session Proposals (CFSP) is now open through June 30.

Included in the sixteen categories for sessions: Transportation, TOD, and Streets (includes – transportation, transit, TOD, parking, street design, complete streets, biking, walking, emergency response)

Additional information:Sponsorship Brochure

For more information about smart growth and transportation see Smart Growth America

Posted in Events, Local Transit Issues, National Transit Issues | Leave a Comment »

Save The JO – Contact JOCO Commissioners

Posted by Transit Action Network on June 8, 2012

Johnson County Transit, The JO, faces the very real possibility of significant budget cuts in the next few years. As a result The JO plans to begin cutting service next year. This will involve eliminating some routes and reducing frequency on others. Details should be available next week.

Please contact your Johnson County Commissioner and also Commission Chairman Ed Eilert and tell them how important The JO transit service is to you and why they should not just keep it but expand it.  Ridership increased 13% last year and has gone up over 12% since the beginning of this year. It doesn’t make sense to cut transit service in difficult economic times while ridership is increasing. Now is the time to increase transit funding, not cut it.

Contact them at the phone numbers shown below or visit the Johnson County website and send an email.

Chairman: Ed Eilert (913) 715-0500
District 1: Ed Peterson  (913) 715-0431
District 2: Jim Allen  (913) 715-0432
District 3: David Lindstrom (913) 715-0433
District 4: Jason Osterhaus (913) 715-0434
District 5: Michael Ashcraft (913) 715-0435
District 6: Calvin Hayden  (913) 715-0436

If you send an email, consider also sending a photo of the riders on your bus. Send it to us too.

There has been a lot of newspaper coverage recently about the budget problems Johnson County Transit is facing. In the short-term, the County is doing the right thing by continuing the current budget levels for 2013. However, the County is not committed to maintaining this level of funding or service for the long-term, so Johnson County Transit is being given time to shrink the transit service over a couple of years beginning in 2013.

Unfortunately, many Johnson County Commissioners view commuter transit as a luxury rather than a basic public service. Other major metropolitan areas in America know that a good transit system is a necessity. While the popular image is Johnson County moves only by car, that picture is changing as the cost of driving continues to rise and Johnson County attracts more workers who need transit.

Commissioners rarely hear from the transit riders. Commuters are usually so busy with work and other responsibilities that they take the transit service for granted, expecting it to be there. However, Commissioners often feel that if you don’t speak up you must not exist and/or your needs must not be real. The Board of County Commissioners determines the transit budget for Johnson County Transit.  Decreasing the budget decreases transit service.

Johnson County Transit (JCT) and its governing board, Johnson County Transportation Council (JCTC), have worked diligently with the Commissioners and the County Manager the past couple of months to avert a 25-30% cut in service next January. Nevertheless service cuts are coming. The JO faces a multi-year budget crisis, and it reminds us that transit is not secure in Johnson County.

The JO faces budget cuts from three directions.

1.  The county initially proposed budget cuts of $700,000 from the 2012 level for 2013 – 2014. We have since been told that County support for transit will remain constant in 2013 – no county budget cuts are proposed at this point. Reductions are still in the works for future years. Therefore, JCT will start reducing service in anticipation of future budget cuts.

2.   Federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) funds and other federal grants will begin to expire in mid-2013. These grants have been used to increase service on the Metcalf / Shawnee Mission Parkway route (556/856) and to initiate the 75th Street route (575/875).  The county is allowing JCT to use its county reserve account to make up for these costs in 2013 and 2014, but it’s essential that the county pick up those costs in the future. CMAQ grants were provided as seed money contingent on a County commitment to assume the cost upon expiration.  Remind the commissioners of their commitment.

3.   A potential loss of $500,000 from the State budget has been pushed back to 2014. This potential loss is related to a re-allocation of state funds among transit agencies.*  If the State doesn’t remedy this situation, then the County should replace these funds rather than force excessive cutbacks in service.

In addition to working with the Commissioners, JCT is appealing to Lawrence Transit and KU to start paying a share of the popular 710-K-10 route.

JCT and JCTC can’t do everything though. They need riders to impress on the Commissioners the importance of transit.

Transit riders and friends of transit should attend the public hearing on the County budget on July 23rd and speak up about the need for transit. Please join us there.

Public Hearing: July 23rd at 7 PM.
Johnson County Administration Building
111 S. Cherry
Olathe, KS 66061

*Kansas uses a formula, which includes ridership numbers, to distribute State transit funds. Lawrence Transit started working cooperatively with the KU transit service. As a result, the KU ridership would be included in the State formula for allocation of transit funds to Lawrence Transit. It is anticipated that this large increase in ridership would result in Lawrence Transit receiving a substantially larger portion of the state funds. If this happens, it would cause a re-distribution of State transit funds away from all the other transit agencies.

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TAN’s Position On Transit Alternatives For The I-70 Corridor In Jackson County

Posted by Transit Action Network on June 1, 2012

 Transit Action Network sent its position paper on the I-70 corridor of the Jackson County Commuters Corridors Alternatives Analysis to the Project Team and the Stakeholders. The following position is based on the April 2012 presentations by the Project Team. We understand the numbers are not final, but while we expect them to change to some extent, we do not anticipate they will change in orders of magnitude. Read the whole document TAN Position on I-70 Corridor

1. TAN favors developing Enhanced Express Bus service along the I-70 corridor.

2. Transit facilities should be located and designed to maximize development potential around them.

3. Jackson County should create a County Transit Authority to fund this and other expanded inter-city transit service, thereby relieving localities of this burden.

4. Jackson County should negotiate an agreement with the City of Kansas City to acquire the use of land adjacent to the northern edge of Kessler Park sufficient for a right-of-way for future commuter rail to Second and Grand.

5. Jackson County and Kansas City should develop a working relationship with the Kansas City Terminal Railway to preserve sufficient right-of-way to accommodate additional tracks east of Union Station, so that the possibility of additional rail access (freight and passenger) to the Union Station area is not further compromised.


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