Transit Action Network (TAN)

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

Archive for August, 2014

KKFI Transit Talk Aug 19 Special Transportation in the KC Region

Posted by Transit Action Network on August 18, 2014


KKFI 90.1 FMJameson Auten, KCATA Vice President of Regional Service Delivery, Sheila Styron, Public Policy Specialist at The Whole Person, and Janet Rogers of Transit Action Network discuss Special Transportation issues in the Kansas City region, including upcoming coordination improvements between the four transit agencies and why, no matter how disabled you are, you can only use the Johnson County Special Edition bus if you live in Johnson County.

Where: Radio Active Magazine on KKFI 90.1FM Kansas City Community Radio (KKFI.org)

When: Tuesday August 19 @ 6PM 

Listen to PODCAST:   http://content.blubrry.com/kkfi901fm/RadioActive_Magazine_2014-08-19.mp3

Auten will discuss the special transportation services available through the transit agencies and Styron will discuss the reasons for ADA transit services as well as her personal experience as a user and why she prefers to use the regular bus service as much as possible.

The American With Disabilities Act (ADA) establishes paratransit (meaning “along side” transit) eligibility rules for people with disabilities. Systems falling under the ADA guidelines are considered ADA complementary services. The services are provided for eligible individuals within ¾ of a mile from a fixed route bus service. Commuter Express services are not required to provide special transportation service for people with disabilities.

Our four transit agencies provide special transportation for people with disabilities as well as seniors, even if they don’t have disabilities. Johnson County’s service is not an ADA complementary service.

RTCC_Paratransit_service_information

The current services have various eligibility requirements, costs, hours of operations and contact numbers, and trying to use them can get quite complicated.

Earlier this year Auten made a presentation to the Regional Transit Coordinating Council (RTCC) about the fractured nature of the current services.  Auten’s presentation: RTCC Paratransit Coordination

This council has adopted the task of improving and streamlining the paratransit services in our region. TAN covered RTCC’s commitment to improve regional paratransit services  earlier this year.

RTCC Tackles Big Transit Issues – Funding and Paratransit

If a transit agency provides special transportation for Non-ADA clients, then they can set their own eligibility rules and costs for Non-ADA trips. All of the transit agencies provide Non-ADA services for seniors starting at either 60 or 65 years of age.

One of the biggest upcoming transit issues is how the aging baby boomers will impact the cost and availability of both ADA and Non-ADA services as this large segment of the population needs more transportation. Auten told us that Share-A-Fare currently has 600 people a month signing up as either renewals or new customers. Since approximately 10,000 Americans are turning 65 everyday, this sign-up number is not surprising, but it is daunting when you consider the future impact on special transportation services.

Who to contact: One of the goals of the RTCC is to have one call center to schedule all paratransit trips. Until that happens, KCTA will forward your call to the appropriate agency if you call them. Here are all the numbers and websites for the paratransit services provided by our transit agencies.

ADA and Non-ADA service

KCATA Share-A-Fare  website  816-842-9070

Unified Government Transit Dial -A-Ride  website  913-573-8351

Independence (IndeBus)  IndeAccess  website  816-461-IBUS  (816-461-4287)

Non-ADA service ONLY

This service is ONLY available to people who live in Johnson County (includes seniors and people with disabilities).

Johnson County Special Edition  website  913-782-2210

The next Transit Talk is scheduled for October 14.

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KCATA General Manager Mark E. Huffer Resigns

Posted by Transit Action Network on August 15, 2014


KCATA

KCATA press release

(Kansas City, Mo. – Aug. 15, 2014) The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority announced today that Mark E. Huffer, general manager, will leave his post effective August 22, 2014.
Huffer has served as general manager since 2000 and has positioned the agency to begin the implementation of an organization-wide restructuring designed to emphasize its capabilities and technical expertise to plan and manage regional projects.
Huffer said that with the reorganization complete, the timing was right for him to pass the mantle to new leadership at the Authority.
“This is the right time for both me and the Authority,” said Huffer. “KCATA is well positioned for the future and I have no doubt that it will continue to thrive. It is rare for a transit CEO to stay at the same agency for 14 years. One of the highlights for me has been the genuine honor of working with the great employees at KCATA.”
Under Huffer’s leadership, KCATA has seen many innovations including MAX Bus Rapid Transit on Troost Ave. and Main Street, construction of a child care/transit center at 39th & Troost, real-time passenger information at over 150 stop locations, passage of an additional 3/8-cent sales tax to support KCATA operations, and conversion of the diesel fleet to compressed natural gas.
“Mark has been a driving force for better transit at KCATA and this region for 14 years,” said Robbie Makinen, chairman of the KCATA Board of Commissioners. “He is a quiet leader who doesn’t seek credit for himself, but has guided KCATA to many improvements and innovations over the years. He has been a great asset to KCATA and he will be missed. The entire Board of Commissioners thanks Mark for his service and wishes him success in his future endeavors.”
Sam Desue, the current Vice President of Operations/COO, will serve as interim general manager.
****
The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority is the largest of the four public transportation providers serving the Greater Kansas City metropolitan region. Created in 1965 through special state legislative action in both Missouri and Kansas, the KCATA today operates a fleet of more than 270 Metro buses providing more than 54,000 customer trips per weekday.

Transit Action Network enjoyed working alongside Mark Huffer to improve transit in this region. We always found Mark to be professional, helpful and informative. We wish him well in his future endeavors.

The KCATA Board of Commissioners will conduct a nationwide search for the new CEO position recently created under the agency’s re-organization plan. Huffer, along with Chairman Makinen and Vice Chairman Klika, have laid the groundwork for the Authority to take a stronger leadership role in the region.

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Hearing: KCMO Proposed Ordinance Links TIF With Free Bus Passes

Posted by Transit Action Network on August 12, 2014


kcmo_big_logoThis Wednesday the Kansas City Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee will hear testimony on a proposed ordinance sponsored by Councilman Russ Johnson.

ORDINANCE NO. 140518   Full Text KCMO_Legislation_140518

Amending Chapter 74, the Kansas City Redevelopment Ordinance, by adding a new Article VII, Public Mass Transportation Benefit Plan, for the purpose of requiring that certain public mass transportation benefits be provided to employees as a requirement of any economic development project utilizing tax increment financing, receiving tax abatements or financed with tax-exempt instruments.

When: Wednesday August 13 at 1:30 pm
Where: Planning, Zoning & Economic Development Committee
26th floor, Council Chamber
City Hall, KCMO

The basic idea is large companies, with more than 100 full-time employees, that receive a tax incentive from the city would implement a Group Transit Plan through KCATA providing free bus passes to eligible employees for the length of the public incentive.

A Group Transit Plan is a relatively new concept in our region started by KCATA several years ago with UMKC. All students pay a small student fee per semester and their UMKC ID badge functions as a bus pass on KCATA buses. This program was recently extended to Rockhurst University. Kansas City used the same concept to work with KCATA and develop a bus pass for all employees as part of their City ID badge. Regular KCATA METRO bus passes cost $50 per month. KCMO is paying $30 per year per person for employees to have a bus pass this year. The cost may be adjusted next year as the city and KCATA evaluate the program. This new benefit for City employees went into effect in July.KCATA

This ordinance would require companies receiving a tax incentive to purchase a similar bus pass for their employees, IF KCATA works out a group plan for them at “Ordinary and Customary Charges.” The final draft of the ordinance will probably have a cap on the amount of money a company would have to pay for this employee benefit. Right now they are talking about a cap of 0.1% of the employer’s total gross payroll for the eligible employees.

This new ordinance would not affect any current tax-incentive plans. If the Kansas City Streetcar Authority has monthly passes in the future, they would come under this ordinance. Tax Incentives are programs like TIF, but the city has a lot of additional tax-incentive programs. Small companies are not affected by this ordinance.

As transit advocates we hear a lot of lip service given to public/private partnerships as a way to pay for transit, but rarely does this talk turn in to anything as tangible as improvements for service or riders. We don’t know how many companies or employees this ordinance will affect in the future, maybe not many. Maybe a lot. We don’t see this ordinance harming large corporations like CERNER, which would be one of the first companies to fall under this new ordinance as it finalizes its large tax incentives for developing the old Bannister Mall site into a new CERNER campus.

The potential benefit to employees (riders) is great and the cost is relatively small per person per year for the companies that would be subject to the ordinance.

Many large employers in Kansas City already provide either free or subsidized monthly bus passes to employees who use transit. Today a company can purchase a METRO $50 monthly pass for $45. Companies that provide these passes free to employees are paying $540 per year to provide an employee that transit benefit. Whatever a Group Transit Plan costs a company per employee, that company will receive a huge discount for a yearly pass. The difference with this plan is that everyone in the company, at that location, would receive a bus pass. This is a great way to encourage transit.

Considering the subsidies to parking that these tax-incentives usually provide, the Group Transit Plan is a small way to be more mode neutral.

Programs with potential to increase transit ridership by giving employees an incentive to use public transit in a cost-effective manner should be implemented.

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Video – KC Streetcar Expansion Election Watch and Mayor’s Speech

Posted by Transit Action Network on August 6, 2014


Mayor Sly James addressed a crowd of streetcar supporters after the August 5th election to create a Transportation Development District failed. The district would have been used to fund the Streetcar Expansion Project. Although the plan did not get voter support, the mayor feels that the city will expand the streetcar system in the future. He feels once people see the Downtown Streetcar their ideas will change. Mayor James says “This issue is not over”.  Watch his complete remarks here.streetcar

Final Vote –  No 60%, Yes 40%

 

 

 

 

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