Transit Action Network (TAN)

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

Archive for September, 2013

Attend the Midtown MetroCenter Grand Opening, KCK, Sept 27

Posted by Transit Action Network on September 25, 2013


Celebrate the opening of the largest transit center in the region. TIGER

What: Midtown KCK MetroCenter Grand Opening
Where: 47th and State Avenue, Kansas City, Kan. (Indian Springs)
When: Friday, Sept. 27, 2013, 10 a.m.

UG logoThis is the second transit center to open related to the new State Avenue Connex service, a major east-west route in the region. The new transit center is part of the $10.5 TIGER (Transportation Improvements Generating Economic Recovery) grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation that the State Avenue corridor received.

Other TIGER-funded enhancements along the State Avenue corridor include bus stop platforms; passenger shelters and benches; and landscaping and environment improvements.

After the opening ceremonies, stay for the party.

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Transit Action Network Has Questions About MARC’s Next LRTP

Posted by Transit Action Network on September 23, 2013


Transportation_Outlook_2040MARC’s current Long Range Transportation Plan was adopted in 2010 when the “Great Recession” was still relatively new.  That plan was based, at least in part, on the optimistic assumption that the economy would recover quickly and return to the “status quo ante” — that the “New Normal” would look a lot like the Old Normal.  In fact, the New Normal might well be closer to “Perpetual Uncertainty” than to the Old Normal.  marclogo
 
In spite of this uncertainty, MARC’s current expectation is that the upcoming LRTP will be a relatively minor update. 
 
The update will begin with a review of the Policy Framework for the 2010 plan:
 
We consider that policy framework to be generally excellent.  However, we wonder if it is being fully reflected in the spending decisions that MARC makes for the region.
 
Here are some questions we hope MARC will ponder:
 
[1] – Have there been fundamental changes in the national (and global) economy that warrant a careful reconsideration of the region’s transportation policy — something more than a “minor update?” 
 
[2] – Were the assumptions underlying the 2010 LRTP even consistent with what we knew, or should have known, at that time? 
 
[3] – Since 2010 there has been a significant change in expectations regarding the availability of federal funds for transportation projects.  Considering this new situation, does it make sense to adopt some specific policy guidance regarding construction of new transportation infrastructure, particularly new roads at the region’s edges?
 
[4] – The 2010 LRTP was based on MARC’s population and employment forecasts derived from a model that reflects pre-2008 development and commuting patterns. The updated forecasts are being characterized as imperfect, but the best that MARC can do. Should the methodology for deriving these forecasts, particularly forecasts for 2030 and 2040, be subjected to an independent evaluation? 
 
[5] – A major issue in 2010 was whether to adopt a significantly different forecast, a so-called “Adaptive Scenario” that could be expected to significantly reduce the cost of new infrastructure.  Does revisiting such a forecast make even more sense at this time?
 
[6] – Current national transportation policy emphasizes “performance measures.”  Might an inventory of “underperforming infrastructure” (e.g., streets and other infrastructure that are underused because development is going elsewhere) be a useful endeavor as input to this LRTP update?
 
[7] – Access to jobs is a growing concern, both for job-seekers and employers.  Can continued location of new jobs at the edges of the region be justified, either from an economic or equity perspective?  
 
[8] – As the region expands outward, it becomes increasingly costly to provide public transit service, while at the same time many people are choosing to drive less and rely more on transit.  Are we willing to see a declining percentage of the region’s population have access to jobs and other opportunities via transit?  If not, can we afford to expand the transit system to prevent that from happening?  
 
No doubt many other relevant questions can be posed.  During the coming months we look forward to spirited dialog between and among public officials and the region’s citizenry as a new Long Range Transportation Plan is prepared.

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TIGER Grant Reduces Need To Take Money From The Buses

Posted by Transit Action Network on September 15, 2013


TIGERTransit Action Network is very excited about the city receiving the Federal $20 million TIGER grant. These grants are very competitive and there are a lot more applications than there is money to distribute.

We congratulate Kansas City on its successful application. As the US Secretary of Transportation, Anthony Foxx, told  the Kansas City Star when he was in Kansas City on September 6 to announce the grant,  “The community has its act together in a big way,” he said. “Coming together to put an 80 percent match on the table — we know what the overall vision for Kansas City is.”

DTSC

You may wonder why the city only had 80% of the money. The 20% streetcar-funding shortfall that Foxx referred to happened when Kansas City decided to reduce the top rates for the TDD (Transportation Development District) property tax prior to the streetcar election. In the original plan, the top property tax rates, combined with the sales tax, would have fully funded the streetcar from revenue collected within the TDD. In order to close the funding gap the city created, the city plans to take $2 million a year from the revenue generated by the city-wide 1/2 cent Transportation Sales Tax. This sales tax is used to pay for bus service. Since the federal government is now filling that funding gap through the TIGER grant, the city shouldn’t need to tap the half-cent sales tax. Applying that yearly $2 million toward bus service would come close to paying for a new MAX line on Prospect, or on another urban corridor such as Independence Avenue or North Oak Trafficway. METRO logo

We hope the city will do the right thing and use this TIGER grant money to fill the streetcar funding gap, thereby reducing or eliminating entirely the amount taken from the ½ cent Transportation Sales Tax. The federal TIGER grant for the streetcar is a huge win for everyone, provided the city uses it to restore money that would otherwise be diverted from the bus system.

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