Transit Action Network (TAN)

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

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. transactionkc@gmail.com

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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