New Transit Coordinating Council Off To a Good Start
Posted by Transit Action Network on November 15, 2013
Transit Action Network is very pleased with the initial efforts of the new regional Transit Coordinating Council (TCC), which is co-chaired by Robbie Makinen of Jackson County and Chairman of the KCATA Board, and the mayor of Mission KS and MARC board member, Laura McConwell.
The new council partially replaces the MARC Transit Committee. The Council consists of local policy officials, and transit and planning professionals.
The fractured nature of the region’s transit is well-known so this council is very welcome. It was heartening for transit advocates to hear major regional players actively engaged and enthusiastic about improving transit.
One of the major actions taken by the Council was the establishment of the Transit Stakeholder Forum (TSF). This new forum is an adjunct to the TCC and together the two committees replace the previous MARC Transit Committee. TSF will be an open public meeting and transit riders, potential riders and advocates can comment and provide input on the projects the TCC is working on as well as make additional suggestions. MARC is expected to announce the date of the first meeting soon.
At its first meeting the Transit Coordinating Council developed a set of six priorities, “quick wins”,
At the second meeting they discussed progress on these items.
1. Regional Pass and Fare Reciprocity
- Near term implementation of the The JO monthly pass as a defacto regional pass. The JO monthly pass would be accepted on all regional routes, except the premium express buses. This extends The JO monthly pass reciprocity to Unified Government Transit and IndeBus. The JO monthly pass is already accepted on the Metro. This pass costs $75.60. This change is an important step toward regional pass reciprocity but we doubt if it will affect many riders.
- There was no discussion about The JO accepting the Metro monthly pass with a $1 up-charge as was mentioned in the draft report. We hope this change can be implemented soon but it is still awaiting approval. This change would have the largest impact on riders since people with Metro monthly passes could reduce the current cost of using The JO.
- An effort to solve the long-term fare reciprocity issue is being addressed with a regional fare study. The goal is to make fares consistence and improve fare recovery ratios. KCATA fares bring in about 15% of the cost, but the other agencies recovery ratios are lower. They plan to develop a “fare elasticity model” in order to make better decisions about the best time and amount to raise fares. This model helps to project the net impact on revenue since a fare increase usually causes a decrease in ridership. Expect completion of the study early in 2014.
2. Regional Transit Call Center
- Work is being done to get IndeBus schedules integrated into the Regional Call Center (RCC) database so Independence can use the system. Independence still has to decide to fund the additional cost of using the RCC. IndeBus is the only agency not currently using the RCC.
- The long-term plan is to integrate all the different regional paratrasnit services so they can use the RCC.
- MoDOT’s 511 call function will be updated to provide a simple way to reach the RCC operator.
3. Regional Trip Planning and General Transit Feed Specification (Google Transit Feed)
- Independence is in the process of reconfiguring its transit data to work with the industry standard, Google Transit. IndeBus is the only provider not on this system. This change will make the whole system available for regional trip planning using Google’s Trip Planner.
4. Regional Route Map and Regional Transit Service Website
- MARC has developed a dynamic online service map. It was made available online on Nov 6th http://kcsmartmoves.org/ You can drill down to see the routes and link to the appropriate website. All of the regional routes are on the map. This capability is really exciting. It will be available on the transit agencies websites in the near future.
- A printed regional map is planned in 2014.
5. Regional Transit Branding
- A request for proposals was released on Nov. 6th to get bids for a designer to develop a coordinated regional transit brand to use as an umbrella image for all regional services. They plan to select a consultant Fall 2013
- Branding and website development, material, marketing etc. should take place in 2014.
6. Passenger Amenity Standards
- KCATA is developing standard passenger amenity thresholds for deploying various passenger amenities based on the number of passenger boardings at a stop.
- Guidelines will be circulated and a technical team will review, finalize and forward for approvals as necessary. Target date 2014
TCC also accepted a workplan for 2014, which includes the items already mentioned as well as:
- Develop regional transit performance measures and informational reports
- Support the coordination of local study efforts
- Initiate coordination of local paratransit services and related customer information
- Assess and identify the best use of federal transportation funding.
The 2013 workplan requires $45 thousand for regional branding. The 2014 workplan estimates $110 thousand for the regional website/brand deployment and the Fare study. All of these budget items have been covered by local contributions.
TCC will be responsible for programming approximately $1.8 million annually of Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) funds for FY 2015, 2016 and maybe 2017. Additional projects may be considered from this funding source.
In addition, STP (Surface Transportation Projects) funds of $35 million, which are programmed by another committee, will be asking for projects soon. Traditionally transit projects have had a hard time getting a share of STP funds. The streetcar was successful but that isn’t the norm. TCC decided that a larger coordinated regional project would have a better chance of receiving STP funding than smaller individual transit projects submitted separately by the transit agencies or individual jurisdictions. The committee scheduled a special meeting to Tuesday, December 3 at 9 am at MARC in order to be proactive about creating a regional application.
TCC is still working to define itself and understand its role in the region. Another function we believe the TCC should embrace is being consulted on all transit issues of regional significance. TCC needs to make itself heard and exert its presence and importance as it goes forward. For instance, recently KCMO approved Cerner’s Bannister and I-435 project, including huge incentives, but with NO requirements relating to public transit in Ordinance 130768. Cerner plans to have 15,000 employees at this location. This project is of regional significance and deserves a regional transportation impact analysis, including consultation with TCC regarding the potential for improving transit service both to the project site and throughout the I-435/I-470 corridor.
The Council plans to alternate venues between MARC and KCATA. The Council is set up to meet on a bi-monthly basis. In the off months, transit staff and MARC staff will work on the Council’s priorities.
The TCC meetings are open to the public and there is a public comment period at the end of the meeting.
TAN is very pleased with the progress and direction of the new council. We expect it to exert a positive coordinating influence on transit in our region.
MARC’s TCC presentation presented earlier this year at the MARC Transit Committee. Presentation_RegionalTransitCoordinatingCouncilConcept011513
MARC’s website link Transit Coordinating Council
TCC members TCC Members_092013
TAN is very engaged in seamless transit and achieving it is one of our main missions. When Co-chair Makinen asked for our input last August we submitted a list of twelve items to him and Tom Gerend, Assistant Director of Transportation at MARC, to consider for inclusion in the TCC workplan. We are pleased that we are all on the same page about seamless transit and so many of our initial issues are being addressed.