Transit Action Network (TAN)

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

Archive for October, 2012

KCATA Route 175 on Metcalf Avenue?

Posted by Transit Action Network on October 24, 2012


Metro Route 175

Transit Trivia: How many places along Metcalf Avenue can you find a posted bus schedule?

Did you know that KCATA (The Metro) operates a route deep into Johnson County? Route 175 has six daily round trips that go south from Ward Parkway Shopping Center (88th and State Line) along State Line, 95th Street, and Metcalf to the Sprint Campus, Menorah Hospital, and St. Luke’s South Hospital. There are about 80 riders daily. (One person making a round trip counts as two riders.)

In this view, the second northbound afternoon Route 175 trip stops to board another rider (plus your humble snapshot taker) at the southeast corner of 95th and Metcalf.

Note the bus stop sign, and the frame for the bus schedule below it on the light pole. This schedule, along with one across the street on the southwest corner of the intersection, are the only places we know of where one can find a bus schedule posted along Metcalf.

That’s the answer to the trivia question: TWO.

What irony that the only bus schedule along Metcalf — the street that’s being prepared for Johnson County’s “Connex” service next spring — is provided by KCATA, and it’s only about their Route 175.

Oh — about all that dirt: This is the site of one of the new Connex bus stops. It’ll have a shelter and a digital sign that’ll tell you when the next bus arrives. Off to the left is the Metcalf South Shopping Center. The JO’s park-and-ride lot will be relocated to this corner from its current location on the east side of the shopping center next to the Glenwood Arts Theater. Another Connex stop and shelter will be constructed on the west side of Metcalf, just south of 95th Street.

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Jackson County Transit Studies Update – Our Current Assessment

Posted by Transit Action Network on October 15, 2012


There was no surprise when Jackson County announced that it would not put a transit tax measure on the ballot this November. There are still too many unknowns, and a comprehensive package will take more time to develop. Better to do this right than fast.

One of the big unknowns is location of a downtown terminus for commuter rail. The Jackson County Commuter Corridors Alternatives Analysis for the I-70 and Rock Island corridors, which has been underway  for over a year, is currently on hold. The County would like to move the downtown terminus from Third and Grand, the option presented to the public in April, to Union Station. That’s good, because nearly everyone really wants commuter trains to go there, and that’s the location identified for commuter rail in Kansas City’s comprehensive plan, FOCUS.

The sticking point has been getting the Kansas City Terminal Railway to agree to allow commuter trains on their tracks.  These are the tracks that Amtrak trains already use.  Once the Terminal (and its owners, primarily the Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Union Pacific) agree they are open to that possibility, a capacity analysis will have to be done to determine if commuter trains can be sandwiched in among all the freight and Amtrak trains.

Actually, it’s a little more complicated than that: whereas there’s some flexibility in freight train schedules, frequent delays for a commuter train could lead to loss of riders and failure of the whole commuter rail endeavor, so the railroads would have to commit to a pretty exacting schedule for the commuter trains.  As of this writing, a capacity analysis has not yet been done.

For commuter rail into Union Station to work, the railroads have to:

  • agree in principle that commuter trains on their tracks would be OK
  • complete a capacity analysis to determine that it’s feasible, and
  • develop detailed cost estimates.

Meanwhile, Jackson County continues to work on more-detailed cost estimates for getting trains to a terminal at Third and Grand.

While that’s going on, the US 71 Corridor Transit Study is proceeding in the first phase of its evaluation process.

In addition to studying the I-70, Rock Island, and US 71 corridors to identify a locally preferred alternative in each, Jackson County is fleshing out the rest of a county-wide transit and trails plan to take to the voters. 

That plan would:

  1. Fill in many of the bus transit needs in the county. All rail systems need a robust bus system to support them and Jackson County doesn’t have that outside of Kansas City, Missouri. MARC’s Smart Moves transit concept is the basis for filling in the missing transit links in the county, and Transit Action Network advocates Janet Rogers and Ron McLinden are working with a team that includes Jackson County, Kansas City, KCATA, and consultants to help define the transit part of the package.
  2. Develop a plan to connect and complete a Jackson County trails system. No longer would there be “trails to nowhere,” but “trails to everywhere.” The County has been working with trail and bike advocates, using MARC’s MetroGreen plan as the basis for the trails component.

Assuming voters approved a one-cent sales tax  — nobody at the County will verify that this is the target amount — that would raise only about $80 million per year. Given that limitation, the County will have to make some tough choices because they can’t afford to do everything that’s currently being considered.

Right now we consider the following as likely components of a trails and transit package to be submitted to the voters:

  • Probably one commuter rail line using the Kansas City Southern tracks in the I-70 corridor
  • Implementation of many of the service components of the region’s Smart Moves transit plan
  • Bus Rapid Transit (MAX style service) on Prospect
  • Transit connections linking municipalities throughout the County
  • Upgraded Express Bus Services in all three major corridors (including I-70, even if commuter rail is developed in that corridor)
  • Build out of a complete network of trails as envisioned in MetroGreen.

We anticipate seeing such a package submitted to the voters sometime in 2013, though perhaps not until the second half of the year.

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

Registration Open -12th Annual New Partners for Smart Growth Conference, February 7-9, 2013

Posted by Transit Action Network on October 12, 2012


Registration is now open for the 12th Annual New Partners for Smart Growth Conference, February 7-9, 2013 in Kansas City, MO.

The multi-disciplinary program includes over 90 plenaries, breakouts, workshops and trainings, and will feature cutting-edge policies and programs, projects, best practices, as well as strategies and implementation tools that address the challenges of implementing smart growth development principles.

KCATA, FTA, and Transit Action Network are sponsoring the tour  Low Cost/High Benefit BRT – The Kansas City MAX. Be sure to attend the conference, sign up for this tour on the MAX and learn how to implement a MAX system, including equitable development, environmental justice issues, planning, design, engineering and funding strategies.

Other conference features include:

  • 15 tours of local model projects;
  • Coordinated networking opportunities;
  • Professional Continuing Education Accreditation;
  • Additional optional pre-conference workshops and tours;
  • So much more!

The official hotel room rate for our group is $119 (single/double) until January 14, 2013 at 5:00pm CDT. After that date, the group rate is subject to availability and is not guaranteed.

To make your reservations at the Marriott Kansas City Downtown Hotel, call 1-877-303-0104 and indicate that you are attending the New Partners Conference. You can also make your New Partners Conference hotel reservations online through  Marriott Kansas City Downtown Hotel Reservations. 

Visit www.NewPartners.org  for more details on the conference program, tours, special events and opportunities, featured speakers, travel and hotel information, local attractions, and to REGISTER NOW!

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

Transit Riders Get More Saturday Seats On Popular KCK Route

Posted by Transit Action Network on October 5, 2012


Loretta Jackson-Cowans, Kathy Darcy and Janet Rogers testified at the UG budget hearing in July 2012

There’ll be fewer people standing on Route 101 Minnesota / State Ave. buses beginning October 6.  That’s because the Metro will use bigger buses on Saturdays.

Route 101 buses run less frequently on Saturdays — hourly instead of every 30 minutes — and many passengers were having to stand as they did their weekly errands for grocery shopping and other purposes.  Add strollers and shopping carts to the riders, and things were getting pretty crowded.

Transit Action Network advocates Loretta Jackson-Cowans, Kathy Darcy, and Janet Rogers testified about the overcrowding at the Unified Government’s budget hearing on July 30, 2012.  That testimony, added to the fact that this route gets the most complaints from Wyandotte County riders, convinced the Commissioners to provide more money for 40-passenger buses instead of 23-passenger buses on Saturdays.  Speaking up really does matter.

Transit industry standards consider 125% of seated capacity as the maximum desirable load on buses.  When loads routinely exceed that level, the condition needs to be remedied. For a 23-seat bus, 29 passengers is the upper level, and that level was being exceeded regularly.

Not only is overcrowding a safety hazard for riders, but it has a dampening effect on ridership as people are discouraged from riding due to sardine-can-like conditions.

This “problem” is actually a sign of success. It shows how popular and important Route 101 is, and that it certainly deserves to be upgraded to the “Connex” service next year. In the meantime,  Commissioners of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County agreed to upgrade to large buses, and we are pleased to see the upgrade happen the very next quarter.

TAN is glad we could help, and we appreciate the data provided by Metro staff.

Enjoy the extra seats!

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Posted in Local Transit Issues | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »