Transit Action Network (TAN)

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

Archive for December, 2014

Congratulations! Robbie Makinen Elected KCATA Chair Again

Posted by Transit Action Network on December 18, 2014


KCATAAt the end of the KCATA Board of Commissioners meeting yesterday, the Board elected Robbie Makinen as Chair for another year. It is really unprecedented to have so many consecutive terms but it shows the Board’s support for Makinen to finish leading the organization through its biggest changes ever.

MakinenC - Version 2

The agency made huge progress re-organizing this year and already completed a deal to manage the Johnson County transit services again after a 30-year break. That deal was sealed yesterday at the beginning of the Board meeting.

The re-structuring of KCATA isn’t complete though. For instance, the agency is still in the process of hiring a new CEO and Makinen is actively engaged in getting the right person. We wonder if he will throw his hat into the ring.

Radio Interview: Transit Talk Nov 18 – Interview with Robbie Makinen on KKFI 90.1FM

Related articles: Big Win for Seamless Transit – The JO Returns to KCATA 

A New Vision for KCATA

 

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Big Win for Seamless Transit – The JO Returns to KCATA

Posted by Transit Action Network on December 17, 2014


The Chair of KCATA Board of Commissioners,  Robbie Makinen, and Ed Eilert, Chair of the Johnson County Commission, took part in a signing ceremony transferring management of Johnson County’s transit to the KCATA.

Johnson County Commissioner Ed Eilert and KCATA Chair Robbie Makinen

Johnson County Commissioner Ed Eilert and KCATA Chair Robbie Makinen

After 30 years KCATA will manage the transit operations for Johnson County Transit again, which includes both The JO and the Special Edition (Johnson County service for seniors and people with disabilities). The signing of the inter-local Cooperative Agreement took place at the beginning of the KCATA monthly board meeting today. KCATA will take full responsibility for management on February 1, 2015, so this is a transition period.

To make this historic change happen Makinen said the “ATA needed to establish confidence and credibility within this region and with the re-structure that is the message they wanted to send.” Makinen lead the effort to re-organize the KCATA with the purpose of REALLY being the area transportation authority and managing (or both managing and operating) all of the public transit in the region as intended when the two states signed the bi-state compact creating the agency.

Commissioner Steve Klika

Commissioner Steve Klika

Steve Klika, Johnson County Commissioner, the County’s appointee to the KCATA Board and a major player in getting this agreement accomplished in record speed of six months, talked about his commitment to this goal for a long time. He joked that his personal effort toward Johnson County Transit was to figure out how to “turn the lights out, close the doors and turn the keys over to a regional entity”, which happened today. Klika said, “We have to understand that this is a big deal. It is starting to lead a path to the regionalization of transit.” He also acknowledged that there are funding issues to deal with going forward.

When asked about the benefit to riders, Commissioner Eilert felt the benefits are going to be “the ability to offer additional connections for transit services across the metro area and a major benefit is the ability of ATA to coordinate those efforts”. He said that Johnson County ‘s struggle has been to create ridership and they hope that ATA’s abilities will lead to an increase in riders.

Signing ceremony at the KCATA Board of Commissioners Dec 17, 2014

Signing ceremony at the KCATA Board of Commissioners Dec 17, 2014

Highlights of the agreement:

  • 2-year term with an annual base cost of $475,000 with a 3% annual cost escalator
  • Johnson County retains all final decisions relating to service policy and budget
  • KCATA staff will coordinate through the County’s Transit Liaison on management and administrative activities

In addition, KCATA has agreed to implement priority placement for Johnson County Transit staff affected by this agreement through March. 2015.

The KCATA Board of Commissioners authorized staff to enter into the inter-local agreement with Johnson County to provide transit management and administrative services for $430,000 in 2015 and $489,250 in 2016.

This agreement is the first major action to utilize the functions of the recently re-organized KCATA. Earlier in the year KCATA created separate departments for the KCATA relating to transit service

  1. KCATA Managed AND Operated bus service,
    1. the METRO,
    2. The METRO buses are driven by full and part-time KCATA employees; public transit bus drivers who belong to the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU).
  2. KCATA Managed but NOT Operated transit service
    1. Manage existing Share-A-Fare service for seniors and people with disabilities, for the areas served by the METRO
      1. Operated by a private contractor
    2. New function: Manage (not operate) transit service for Johnson County.
      1. The JO and the Special Edition buses will continue to be operated by a private operator.
      2. In Johnson County, the operator doesn’t own the buses or set the routes or the schedules. They provide part-time drivers to operate The JO and Special Edition buses. The JO currently runs 42 commuter buses during peak service hours, which is considered a small service. Riders will not see any difference in the operations to start.

KCATA management will replace management functions previously performed by Johnson County Transit (JCT), a department of Johnson County. The personnel changes will result in approximately $455,000 savings for Johnson County.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAdditional savings are expected in the future since KCATA’s size provides greater purchasing power in capital acquisitions, such as buses, and operation costs, such as fuel. We also expect to see cost savings due to improvements to connections.

Users of the Johnson County services will still see familiar JCT faces at KCATA. Chuck Ferguson is now the KCATA Director of Planning. Shawn Strate is currently splitting his time between the two organizations, but he is now a Transit Planner at KCATA. There are several back office people from JCT that have moved to KCATA. Alice Amrein and Chris Lowe are staying at Johnson County. Amrein will be the liaison between the County and KCATA.

Riders shouldn’t expect immediate benefits or changes. There will be a transition period where KCATA learns all about The JO and Special Edition. KCATA has to evaluate the best way to integrate the services. Eliminating duplications or inefficiencies in service will take some time, but we hope the improvements are sooner rather than later and we will monitor the progress.

 In the short-term we hope to see better communications such as more schedules posted at bus stops for the JO and hopefully the electronic information boards working properly at the Mission Transit Center.

Once the full extent of the cost savings is evident KCATA should recommend more service. The Johnson County commissioners have committed to using the cost savings to improve and expand transit and not to divert the money for other purposes.

There are independent activities led by the Regional Transit Coordinating Council (RTCC) that will have an impact in 2015. A regional fare study is already being conducted as well as a study to create a single eligibility procedure in the region to use special transportation.

Transit Action Network sees this agreement as a big leap forward toward the seamless transit system we want to function in the region and we want to thank everyone involved in making this agreement happen.

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Are Autonomous Vehicles in the LRTP?

Posted by Transit Action Network on December 10, 2014


ENOThis week Mark McDowell, Kansas City financial consultant and Transit Action Network advocate, published an article in Eno Institute for Transportation Policy: Time for Autonomous Vehicles to Disrupt Transportation Planning 

McDowell’s paper considers the impact Autonomous Vehicles (AV) will have on the demand for infrastructure and the effects on suburban sprawl, urban parking needs, inter-city transportation, public transit and paratrasnit in the near future.

He makes the case that Autonomous Vehicles should be included in local transportation planning since these driverless vehicles will create a huge change to our transportation system in the current timeframe of the Long Range Transportation Plans (LRTP) prepared by Metropolitan Planning Organizations, like Mid-America Regional Council (MARC).marclogo

MARC is currently updating Transportation Outlook 2040, our LRTP. The plan deals with our regional transportation plans for the next 25 years. AV’s already exist and are being used in some places. Is MARC sticking with the status quo or including the affects of Autonomous Vehicles? If AV’s don’t get included in the LRTP then McDowell says “ we are designing infrastructure for yesterday instead of tomorrow.”

Transit Action Network doesn’t have a crystal ball to see the full impact of AV’s over the next 25 years, but 25 years ago very few people had a personal computer, and smartphones weren’t designed yet.  It may be unwise to bury our heads in the sand and continue to make transportation and funding decisions for the next 25 years without considering the impact of disruptive technologies like Autonomous Vehicles.

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Mobility Advisory Committee Meets Dec 10

Posted by Transit Action Network on December 9, 2014


The Mobility Advisory Committee (MAC) works to improve mobility for individuals with disabilities and seniors. It is a sub-committee of the Regional Transit Coordinating Council (RTCC). Mobility_AC

Next meeting:

  • When: Wednesday, Dec 10, 2014 at 9:30 am
  • Where: KCATA, Breen Board Room, 1200 E. 18th Street, Kansas City, MO 64108

This meeting will evaluate and prioritize projects requesting funding (FTA Section 5310). The committee’s priorities will help the Regional Transit Coordinating Council form a funding recommendation.

The agenda, list of projects to be prioritized, and project summaries are available on the MAC website. Projects totally more than $6 million  have been requested, so prioritizing them is very important for determining which projects are actually funded.  The meeting is open to the public.

 

 

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Be Prepared: Snow Removal for Walkers and Rollers

Posted by Transit Action Network on December 5, 2014


Picture from the Easter Seals report

Picture from the Easter Seals report

It is time again to start singing that old familiar refrain, “What about snow removal?” To get everyone tuned up and ready to go, here is a great resource from Easter Seals Project Action (ESPA). It is chock full of best practices from around the country and pertinent regulations to remind us of our responsibilities to those not driving. ES_Snow_Removal_Brief

Easter_Seals

The ability of to conduct your business and your life is as important to walkers and rollers as it is drivers.

“Including pedestrian facilities in snow and ice management policies reflects a community’s commitment to equal access, safety, economic vitality and quality of life.” Roger Millar, Vice President, Smart Growth America

 

 

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