Transit Action Network (TAN)

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

Archive for August, 2012

KC Downtown Streetcar And The Funding Election

Posted by Transit Action Network on August 29, 2012


If you live in the newly created downtown Transportation Development District (TDD) get ready to pick up you next ballot to vote for funding the downtown streetcar. The TDD board decided on another mail-in election, just like the first election.

Click to enlarge TDD

The second election consists of two questions.

The first question is for the 1-cent retail sales tax.

The second question is for special assessments on property:

  • Residential property — 70 cents per $100 of assessed value
  • Property for non-profits — 40 cents per $100 of property assessed between $300,000 and $50 million
  • Commercial property — 48 cents per $100 of assessed value
  • Municipal (city) property — $1.04 per $100 of assessed value
  • Commercial surface parking lots — fee of 15 cents per space per day

You need to vote yes on both questions. Both questions have to pass for a successful outcome.

Important dates and times:

  • August 31 @ 8 am  – Ballot request period starts. Request ballot from Jackson County Courthouse (or print it from the Judge’s Ruling document below)
  • October 2 @ 5 p.m. Deadline to return completed ballot request and proof of voter registration
  • October 30 – Ballots mailed
  • December 11 @ 5 pm – Ballots due at Jackson County Courthouse

Attend Streetcar Neighbors Ballot Application Breakfast this Friday, August 31 at 7 a.m. at LATTeLAND – 12th St.

The TDD Board consists of Mayor Sly James, Port Authority Chair George Wolf, residential property owner Matthew Staub, and commercial property owner Jeff Krum (CFO of Boulevard Brewing Company). Mayor James and Matthew Staub are co-chairs of the TDD Board.

The Kansas City Streetcar Authority, formed on Aug. 3, consists of downtown stakeholders and city appointees. It’s role is contracting streetcar operations and consulting on remaining engineering and construction activities with Public Works.

As soon as the second election is final, the city can issue bonds and start construction. Operation is planned for 2015.

Judge’s Ruling: KC Streetcar Order for Funding Election

The ballot application is Exhibit B of the Judge’s Ruling. Print, fill out and return the ballot request by 5 p.m. on October 2, 2012 along with proof of voter registration to:

Jackson County Court Administrator
Attn: TDD Ballot Application
415 East 12th Street, Third Floor, Room 303
Kansas City, MO 64106

Proof of voter registration can be a current copy of your voter registration card or go to www.kceb.org and print proof of registration using the “Check Your Voter Status” box.

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JCT Releases Revised Proposal for Cuts – Save The JO

Posted by Transit Action Network on August 28, 2012


Johnson County Transit (JCT) has released a Revised JCT Service Reductions Aug 14,2012 report for eliminations and reductions to its transit system.

Summary of the revised proposal:

Eliminate five routes (instead of nine)
Reduce/combine service on the four other routes that were proposed for elimination
Make additional schedule modifications on four other routes based on comments and service efficiencies.

Here are the original 9 routes slated for eliminations with some of our comments. Review the JCT report for additional information. Keep in mind that JCT is still reviewing the routes and could make more changes.

Routes Originally Proposed for Elimination

Three Routes Eliminated Totally
Route 676-P – Paola/Spring Hill/Olathe Eliminating this route and Route 816 will leave these communities and seniors without any transit. The Special Edition does not operate in Spring Hill and Paola.
Route 810 – DeSoto FlexRide This change will leave this community and seniors without any transit. The Special Edition does not operate in DeSoto.
Route 816 – Spring Hill Shuttle Eliminating this route and Route 676 will leave this community and seniors without any transit. The Special Edition does not operate in Spring Hill.
Eliminate 667-R and 669-I and combine with 546-D into one new route
Route 546-D – Johnson/Quivira, Route 677-R – Downtown/Olathe, Route 669-I – KCK/Lenexa/Olathe Eliminate current routes I, R and D but combine them into a new Route 546-D. The new Route 546-D would have only 9 trips instead of the current 16. The northern end would be in KCK. The southern end is usually at 116th and Renner. See the proposed map. One trip extends south to 127th & Mur-Len (Villa St. Francis) to serve 7:00-3:30 workday (currently served by Route 669/I) One trip extends to Ridgeview to serve 8:00-5:00 workday  (currently served by Route 677/R
Keep routes instead of eliminating them; make significant service reductions.
Route 66-E – Nall/Downtown – Reduce from 4 to 2 trips This reduces service between Johnson County and Wyandotte counties. This is the only JO service that goes to KU Med. Routes with only one morning and one evening trip are bound to fail. The national transit-consulting firm Nelson Nygaard recommends at least 6 trips (3 each way) to make a successful commuter route. If they must reduce service, JCT needs to consider other options in order to keep the four trips.
Route 672-M – JoCo/Downtown Midday – Keep but eliminate Metcalf portion of route The route would travel from Mission to OPM on Shawnee Mission Parkway, I-35, and US-69, instead of using Metcalf and 95th. This re-routing should save 10-15 minutes per trip. Transfers to Metcalf destinations can be made via 856 in Mission. South of Oak Park Mall, the route would remain unchanged. Downtown employees who want additional midday flexibility could take MAX to the Plaza and transfer to 856, or to Waldo and transfer to 875.
Route 812 JO Flex– Reduce from 3 days to 2 days This change is better than eliminating the route.

Transit Action Network knows that JCT is trying to combine routes and provide as much transit as possible for its current riders given the budgetary restrictions and instructions from the County Commissioners. We are also aware that unless the County makes significant budget changes, all of these routes and more may be eliminated in 2014.

click to enlarge

Below is the Commission’s transit priority list that JCT is directed to implement over the next two years as a result of a reduction in federal and state funds.

The Board of County Commissioners Transit priorities (in order of importance):

  • Protect the most vulnerable county residents by maintaining Special Edition and SWIFT services.
  • Support TIGER investments by maintaining service on the Metcalf and Shawnee Mission Parkway corridor
  • Maintain I-35 Xpress (Bus on Shoulder Routes)
  • Maintain K-10 Connector
  • Continue Local Services and Local Links

Our concern is the county’s lack of commitment to developing a full service transit system. In terms of transit, Johnson County thinks like a small city instead of a big wealthy county. Blue Springs, Missouri has a population of slightly over 50,000 people. For transit it normally considers an OATS bus for seniors and the disabled and a few commuter express buses as sufficient, although Blue Springs is  working very hard to get commuter rail. Johnson County, with a population of 544,000, has stated a position that supports a similar low level of bus transit, with one exception. They want to keep the new Metcalf/Shawnee Mission Parkway and 75th Street/Quivira CONNEX routes. So do we, but these routes need to be paid for with new county funds instead of transferring funds from the current transit system.  Johnson County accepted a $10.7 million TIGER grant from the federal government for improvements along the M/SMP corridor, and they would have to return the money if they cancelled these routes. Yet the county refuses to add new money to the transit budget to replace the three-year start up money the federal government gave them for operating expenses on these routes.

Board of Commissioners Chairman Ed Eilert complains about the cost per rider and farebox recovery ratio on some of these routes, yet he knows that the main CONNEX service has far worse performance numbers than nearly all of the regular routes they are proposing to eliminate, such as Routes 669-I, 667-E, 672-M and the JO Flex.

Routes originally proposed for elimination Example: Farebox recovery ratio
672-M 17%
669-I 15%
667-E 14%
JO Flex 11%
Major CONNEX Route – protected
556 Metcalf/Plaza 9%
856 Metcalf/Plaza Flex 7%

The disingenuous nature of the Commission’s priorities is very concerning. Providing transit for seniors is at the top of their list, yet eliminating the local service in Spring Hill, Paola and DeSoto will leave their elderly populations stranded once again, since the Special Edition bus doesn’t service those areas.

The county won’t eliminate all of the proposed routes at this point in time or they might be in violation of Title VI of the Federal Civil Rights Act. The Act says if you receive federal funds, you can’t eliminate service to minority and low-income populations in a discriminatory manner. Of the original proposed eliminations, routes 546-D – Johnson/Quivira, 667-E – Nall/ Downtown, and 669-I – KCK/Lenexa/Olathe have significant service to areas with higher percentages of minority and low-income populations. These routes would be eliminated based on the Commission’s directions to JCT.

You still have time to comment to the Commission on the changes being proposed. Final BoCC action is planned for October 18.

Contact Johnson County Board of County Commissioners

  1. Phone: 913-715-0430
  2. Email contact form: http://bocc.jocogov.org/webform/contact-us
  3. Chairman: Ed Eilert (913) 715-0500
  4. District 1: Ed Peterson  (913) 715-0431
  5. District 2: Jim Allen  (913) 715-0432
  6. District 3: David Lindstrom (913) 715-0433
  7. District 4: Jason Osterhaus (913) 715-0434
  8. District 5: Michael Ashcraft (913) 715-0435
  9. District 6: Calvin Hayden  (913) 715-0436

JCT Tentative Timeline –

• Joint JCTC/BoCC meeting on August 30, 2012, 11 am, Board of County Commission’s hearing room on the third floor of the County Administration Building in Olathe
• Present final recommendations at JCTC meeting on September 18, 2012
• Submit JCT/JCTC recommendations to BoCC on October 4, 2012.
• Agenda Review: October 11
• Final BoCC Action: October 18
• Final changes posted the week of October 22, 2012
• Changes will begin operation on January 2, 2013

The Johnson County Transportation Council (JCTC) meeting on September 18 will be held at 5:30 pm at Sylvester Powell: 6200 Martway, Mission, KS so that more people can be present to hear the presentation of the final recommendations and hear the discussion.

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Public Open House – US 40 Highway Corridor – AUG 28, 29 and 30

Posted by Transit Action Network on August 24, 2012


Provide input for the region-wide development process to create sustainable places. There will be public meetings on each of the six corridors being worked on. This meeting is for the US 40 Highway corridor, which extends from 31st and Prospect in Kansas City, MO, to US 40 and Adams Dairy Parkway in Blue Springs, MO. Sustainable places create transportation corridors that accommodate different modes of travel — walking, biking, transit and auto.

Click to enlarge

Tuesday, August 28th – Independence, MO

Location: Noland Road Baptist Church, 4505 S. Noland Road Independence
Any Time Between: 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Presentations: 5:30 p.m., repeated again at 7:00 p.m. (choose one)
 

Wednesday, August 29th – Kansas City, MO

Location: Brush Creek Community Center, 3801 Emanuel Cleaver II Blvd.
Any Time Between: 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Presentations: 5:30 p.m., repeated again at 7:00 p.m. (choose one)
 

Thursday, August 30th – Blue Springs, MO

Location: William Bryant Elementary School, 1101 Southeast Sunnyside School Road
Any Time Between: 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Presentations: 5:30 p.m., repeated again at 7:00 p.m. (choose one)
 

This community meeting is related to the $4.25 million grant Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) received from HUD to help create sustainable places in the Kansas City region.  Print and post the Flyer.CSP_Flyer_40 Highway Meetings

Visit MARC’s website to learn more about this process. The CSP initiative includes plans and demonstration projects in six key corridors in the Kansas City region: State Avenue, North Oak, U.S. 40, Rock Island, Central City and Shawnee Mission.

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Save The JO Video #7 – Seniors Speak Up

Posted by Transit Action Network on August 17, 2012


Route #812 is The JO Flex service in Overland Park. It doesn’t cover a lot of Johnson County but it is a necessity for the people who depend on it. Watch seniors at Santa Fe Towers Apartments speak about their situation and concerns about the proposed elimination of this service.

The JO flex service covers a rectangle from 75th Street on the north, Lamar on the east, 95th  Street on the south and Quivira on the west. The service is limited between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. You don’t have to qualify to ride the #812, since it is available to anyone in the service area. Two very large retirement communities are significant users of the route, Overland Towers and Santa Fe Towers Apartments.

The JO Flex is more cost-effective than the new showcase CONNEX route #556 that JCT will retain. The JO Flex has better farebox recovery, cost per rider and ridership per trip than the CONNEX route.

The County Commissioners have said elderly, disabled and low-income populations will have the Special Edition, which is a shared ride program, providing transportation for registered and qualified residents of Johnson County. Usually you can’t call the day before to schedule a ride because the service is already full. The Special Edition only uses buses with a capacity of 10-12 people, where the JO Flex uses larger more comfortable buses. The JO Flex fare is $1, so a trip to the grocery store is $2. The Special Edition fare is $5, so the same trip would cost $10. Switching all of The JO Flex riders over to the more expensive, smaller, over-crowded Special Edition seems like a losing proposition.

Please keep the more affordable Route #812 JO Flex.

Contact Johnson County Board of County Commissioners

  1. Phone: 913-715-0430
  2. Email contact form: http://bocc.jocogov.org/webform/contact-us

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All About Smog – One More Reason to Save the JO

Posted by Transit Action Network on August 14, 2012


This is a Missouri Dept. of Natural Resources photo from August 13, 2012 from Blue Ridge Mall looking at downtown Kansas City. The KCPT tower, right-middle of the photo, is 3 miles away and the downtown skyline is 8 miles away. On a bad day, you can’t see the tower and on a really bad day even the skyline disappears from view. So what is smog?

The term “smog” was coined at the turn of the century to describe the hazy horizon of industrialized European cities, but around the 1950s, vehicle emissions began to take the place of factories in creating this noxious mixture of “smoke” and “fog”. Smog is a haze we see today during our hot and humid summers. This combination of ground-level ozone, nitrogen dioxide, hydrocarbons and dust particles is monitored regularly and regulated by the US EPA due to increasing health concerns for sensitive populations like children, the elderly and people with allergies or asthma.

In Kansas City, emergency room visits and hospital admissions increase significantly when ground-level ozone concentrations are high. Ground-level ozone irritates the eyes and nose, causes inflammation, difficulty breathing and even chest pain. It is formed by emissions from vehicles, power plants and other sources mixing with heat and sunlight, which is why summer is the most troublesome for air quality. Poor air quality knows no political boundaries, though, and smog will often creep northward with the warm, south winds of summer.

There is something we can all do to help. With daily work commutes averaging around 20 miles, multiple highway corridors, and abundant parking, it’s easy to see why so many folks in the Kansas City area drive to work. It’s also easy to see how our routines are contributing nearly half of the ozone forming emissions that contribute to poor air quality. Leaving your car at home even twice a week can save over 270 pounds of harmful ozone-forming emissions.

The MidAmerica Regional Council’s RideShare Connection is hosting the Green Commute Challenge now through September 28th to help raise awareness of air quality issues, reduce use of single-occupant vehicles in the peak summer season, and encourage transit use across the metro area through an employer-based contest. Thirty teams have joined from across the Kansas City area and over 900 people are taking the challenge to use alternative transportation.

Between bicycling, riding the bus or carpooling to work, and walking or simply staying in for lunch, the challenge has already reduced emissions by over 250,000 pounds. That’s like taking 14,000 cars off the road for a day. During the 12-week challenge, participants track their trips online and earn points. It’s a great way to see how our individual choices can add up to big benefits and many participants are using public transportation to earn serious points for their teams.

We can all do our part for air quality and using transit is a great way to start. And you don’t have to wait for national fuel efficiency standards or alternative energy sector growth to help! Compared to other household actions, using transit can reduce emissions by more than 10 fold.  A robust public transportation system is one of the very best investments any community can make to minimize emissions and reduce greenhouse gases. Transit can’t beat bicycling or other no-emission commutes, but modern buses are often hybrids using natural gas, biodiesel and other low emission fuels. The KCATA Metro MAX has several hybrid and clean diesel vehicles and both KCATA and The JO will be adding natural gas vehicles to their fleet.

Does being a transit rider make you an air quality hero? It depends who you ask but there’s no doubt that reducing even a few solitary commuting trips in your car can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change and poor local air quality. Kansas City had 18 Ozone Alert days already in 2012, up from only 9 last year and 4 in 2010. We’ve exceeded ozone concentration standards 16 times this year and we’re setting a pace to top the last 2 years combined for quantifiable poor air quality. Poor air quality affects everyone’s health and it can make doing business more expensive as tighter regulations are enacted to meet basic national standards.

When local budgets get tight and cuts seem imminent, priorities have to be defined to guide the process, but with growing concerns about air quality and the human health impacts a very clear reality in the Kansas City metro area, you have to ask: why is public transportation not a priority in Johnson County? How can eliminating bus routes by 45% (and reducing service on another 45% of routes) serve our collective goals for air quality when it is the first, best way to reduce harmful ozone-causing emissions? We don’t believe cutting bus services voluntarily is in the best interest of Johnson County or the collective community when it comes to air quality issues or the kind of reliable public transportation system the public increasingly demands.

It’s not too late to improve air quality in Kansas City. From alternative fuel blends and hybrid vehicles to using low emissions paint in our homes and native landscaping in our yards, people across the metro are doing so much to reduce harmful greenhouse gases and ground-level ozone in our community. Using transit is one of the most effective things you can do to help ease air pollution and prevent smog from ever forming. The only question is: if you live or work in Johnson County, will you still have the transit option in 2013?

Contact Johnson County Board of County Commissioners

  1. Phone: 913-715-0430
  2. Email contact form: http://bocc.jocogov.org/webform/contact-us

http://finances.msn.com/saving-money-advice/6804691

http://www.marc.org/Environment/airQ/pdf/FAQfourpage.pdf

http://www.dnr.mo.gov/env/esp/aqm/kccam.htm

http://www.apta.com/gap/letters/2010/Pages/100728_obama.aspx

http://www.marc.org/Environment/airQ/pdf/ozonereports/O3WeeklySummary.pdf

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Creating Sustainable Places – Community Meeting in KCK Aug 23

Posted by Transit Action Network on August 13, 2012


 

This community meeting is related to the $4.25 million grant Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) received from HUD to help create sustainable places in the Kansas City region. A series of community meetings will be held around the region. Print and distribute this flyer for the meeting in KCK. Creating_ Sustainable_ Places_Community Meeting Flyer 

When: Aug 23, 6-7:30 p.m.
Where: Faith Deliverance Family Worship Center
              3043 State Avenue, Kansas City, KS

Investing in the State Avenue corridor will energize the transit corridor to be served by the new CONNEX route and transit infrastructure improvements provided by the $10.5 million federal TIGER grant.

According to MARC’s website for this project “Sustainable places are VIBRANT, with activity centers that offer a rich mix of amenities and housing choices, with easy access to jobs, services and recreation. They are CONNECTED by transportation corridors that accommodate different modes of travel — walking, biking, transit and auto. They are GREEN, respecting and preserving the natural environment while promoting healthy lifestyles and healthy residents.”

CSP_Community_ Meeting Flyer_Option 2

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Oak Park Mall Getaway

Posted by Transit Action Network on August 8, 2012


OK, so maybe you’re not a bona fide Mall Rat. In fact, maybe you have some strong biases against malls. No matter. Visiting a mall once in a while won’t kill you — especially if it’s 105 degrees in the shade.

Here’s a plan for a half-day excursion from Kansas City, Missouri, to Oak Park Mall in nearby Johnson County:

Let’s assume you’re a Metro rider. Take the Metro bus of your choice to Crown Center, arriving there by 1:00 pm any weekday. You can get there via any number of routes: Main Street MAX, 27, 54, 123, 142, 173, etc.

Be sure to get a transfer. (If purchase a ticket or if you are using a Metro monthly pass or a Metro day pass, tell your Metro driver, “I need a transfer to The JO.”)

At 1:05 (or thereabouts), board The JO’s Route 672-M (Midday) bus at the Crown Center Square, across from the fountain.

(You can also board at 10th and Main at 12:58 pm.) Swipe your Metro transfer through the farebox, just as you do on a Metro bus, and settle in for a one-hour ride. You’ll find the JO bus to be clean and comfortable, and the driver courteous and helpful.

After a sprint along I-35 you’ll go south on Roe through Roeland Park, west along Johnson Drive through Mission (take note of The JO’s new Mission Transit Center under construction at 4851 Johnson Drive), south on Metcalf past Downtown Overland Park, and pause at Metcalf South Shopping Center (where you could, if you wanted to, see a movie at Glenwood Arts Theater), and west on 95th Street to Oak Park Mall.

You’ll arrive at Oak Park Mall about 2:02.

Once at OPM you can (1) Shop, (2) Window-shop, or (3) Eat at the food court or one of the other eateries in or near the mall.

Transit Schedule at Oak Park Mall

Eventually, even though you might not want to, you’ll need to go back home. Fortunately The JO has several buses that will take you back to Missouri.

Route 670-L (South Johnson County Express) will get you back to Crown Center in practically no time at all: it leaves the OPM park-and-ride lot at 4:18, 4:49, 5:19, and 5:49, and the return trip takes about 30 minutes. (You can also return via Route 575, which takes you to Waldo or 75th and Troost.) Last buses back to Missouri are the 670 at 5:49 and the 575 at 5:50. After that, your coach has turned into a pumpkin, and you’ll have to call a friend or a taxi — or start walking.

Note: You got to OPM on your Metro transfer. The JO accepts a Metro transfer, but not a Metro monthly pass or day pass. You’ll need to pay a regular fare to The JO to return.  Regular fare is $2.00 for adults, $1.50 for seniors (with any ID that shows your date of birth). Kids 5 and under ride free, and kids 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult. If you don’t have a Metro monthly pass or day pass for your onward travel once you return to Missouri, be sure to tell your JO driver “I need a transfer to the Metro.” The Metro accepts The JO transfers.

Easy, right? You’ll have kept cool for an afternoon while experiencing one of the region’s biggest shopping malls, and you’ll have become one of the relatively few transit riders in the region who can say that they’ve ridden The JO.

So what’s keeping you? Give it a try and let us know what great fun you have!

P.S. The 672-M Midday bus is on the Johnson County Transit list of proposed eliminations for 2013.

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Streetcar TDD Vote Passed!

Posted by Transit Action Network on August 1, 2012


The unofficial results are in for the creation of the Downtown Streetcar Transportation Development District (TDD).

318 YES, 141 NO.  Congratulations.  The TDD will be created.

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