Transit Action Network (TAN)

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

Archive for February, 2015

Speak Up! Why is Kansas City Giving Transit Money To Public Works, AGAIN?

Posted by Transit Action Network on February 20, 2015


KCdesignsipadkcbackgroundGood and bad transit news exists in the KCMO budget submitted for 2015-2016, but the bottom line is that over $4.2 million in sales tax revenue that should go to KCATA in the current fiscal year, 2014-2015, is being diverted to Public Works in the Submitted Budget for 2015-2016. Public Mass Transportation Fund_2015-2016

Since 2010 Kansas City ordinances say starting in 2014 the city would give KCATA at least 95% of the proceeds from the ½ cent Transportation Sales Tax (Public Mass Transportation Fund) less 2% Administrative fee, TIF and, more recently, $2,039,000 for the downtown streetcar. To us, if KCATA gets a minimum of 95% that means Public Works can only get a maximum of 5%. Any additional money has to go to KCATA. Current ordinance 130796  (KCATA has instituted cost savings)KCATA

Our request to the city council as it deliberates the budget is, “Please enforce transit ordinance 130796 this year, 2014-2015. When sales tax revenue increases over the budgeted amount, then KCATA’s pass thorough payment should be adjusted using the actual proceeds. KCATA should be receiving the windfall from the increase in sales tax revenue. If the original budget number for sales tax revenue had been closer to the actual amount, then KCATA would be getting this money. So why not now? Instead the city manager thinks that Public Works should get the difference. That doesn’t even make sense. Please, don’t let more than $4 million be diverted from transit.”

Transit Action Network plans to testify at both public hearings. Please consider letting the council know what you think about this diversion of transit money to Public Works.

Public Meetings:

  •  Saturday, Feb. 21 | 9:00 a.m. -11:00 a.m., Regional Police Academy, 6885 N.E. Pleasant Valley Road
  •  Saturday, Feb. 28 | 9:00 a.m. -11:00 a.m., Southeast Community Center, 4201 E. 63rd Street

This time last year, the 2014-2015 Budget looked fine, no problem. KCATA was being allocated an appropriate amount of money based on the calculation in the ordinance.

This week we got a look at how the City Manager is actually using the sales tax receipts. In the Submitted Budget there is another column – the Estimated actual revenue and expenditures for 2014-2015.1_2_cent_PMT_2014-2016

This Estimated column shows Kansas City ½ cent sales tax Public Mass Transportation Fund, on page 382 of the Submitted Budget, has finally made a good recovery from the recession. Instead of the budgeted amount of $32.8 million in receipts, the city is now estimating it will receive $36.5 million this year. That is great. Kansas City hasn’t been able to collect enough sales tax since 2009 to pay for the current level of transit service.

However, we don’t see any increase in KCATA funding to reflect the windfall. In fact, the estimated final amount is $808,000 less than originally budgeted. This is so unfair and wrong!

Re-calculating the KCATA funding using the new sales tax revenue amount, KCATA should get $29.1 million, but it is only estimated to get $24.9, which is $4.2 million less than it should receive based on the ordinance.

So while KCATA funding is slashed, the city is giving Public Works $1.36 million more than its 5% this year and $4.7 million over its 5% next year.PMT_2015_2016_xlsx

The city is currently expecting to finish 2014-2015 with a revenue increase of $3.7 million over budget in this fund.

In 2014-2015, after the re-calculation for the ordinance, the city is:

  1. giving Public Works an additional $1.4 million over its calculated maximum
  2. giving KCATA $4.2 million less than it should receive
  3. ending the year with $6 million in the ending balance. There should never be a big remainder in this account. That is evidence the money is not being distributed to KCATA at 95% of the receipts. An appropriate ending balance for this account is closer to $1.5 million

In 2015-2016 the city is:

  1. budgeting the same sales tax revenue as estimated for 2014-2015.
  2. giving Public Works an additional $4.7 million over the 5% calculation (this is the money they diverted from KCATA by hoarding it in 2014-2015)
  3. Public Works is getting $6.2 million out of this fund, when it calculates a maximum of $1.5 million.
  4. KCATA is getting $350,000 less than required by the formula.

So how does this happen? The city manager and TAN read this ordinance very differently.

TAN – KCATA receiving 95% of the proceeds from the sales tax means just that. Budgets are estimates of what the city thinks is going to happen. When it gets actual numbers the amount gets adjusted based on the ordinance. That is normal.

City Manager reply to TAN on Wednesday: The amount calculated for the budget is a fixed number and he won’t re-calculate it. Any additional money that comes in allows him to direct it to Public Works.

We find that position almost unbelievable. His position is if the city does a really bad guess on the budget revenue number, like this year, then KCATA has to suffer and all the additional sales tax generated by the people is available for Public Works. Is he really going to stand by that?

We think the city manager’s contorted reading of this ordinance fundamentally wrong. Even his reasoning implies that if the budget projection for sales tax revenue was close to being right, then KCATA would have gotten all this money. So why shouldn’t KCATA receive it now? If the budget department is way off on the sales tax revenue estimate, KCATA shouldn’t suffer and Public Works shouldn’t get the windfall.

The city council made it clear by the ordinance that this money is meant to support transit. The 5% for Public Works is traditional because Public Works does services that are beneficial to the transit such as snow removal.

This money is not meant to be a slush fund for Public Works. Repeated diversions of transit funds by blatantly ignoring ordinances makes us wonder if that isn’t the best term to describe what goes on in this constant battle to maintain transit funding. Transit advocates shouldn’t have to keep having this same fight.

When the media and other people complain that transit isn’t as good as they think it should be, maybe they should look at the city for diverting so many millions of dollars since 2003 from the of ½ cent Public Mass Transportation Fund and giving it to Public Works instead of using it to provide transit service.

Why does this matter?

  1. We need to establish the correct use of the calculation in the ordinance because otherwise when there is more revenue than budgeted, the city manager will continue to divert the money to Public Works instead of using it to improve transit.
  2.  Improve the state of our transit system:
  • 2014-2015- KCMO is finally raising enough sales tax to cover the current service level, but it is not paying its bill. Every year since 2009 KCATA dipped into its reserve account (city money held for an emergency, like we had in 2009) to pay the difference between what the City gives them and what the transit service actually costs. Why wouldn’t the $4.2 million automatically go to fully pay the city’s bill and stop KCATA from depleting its reserve account?
  •  2015-2016- KCMO funding will barely cover the cost of the transit service, but that is still great since that is the first time it happened since 2009.
  •  In 2009, transit service was cut 9.5% due to the recession. That service level has never been restored. We are limping along with far less service.
  •  Prospect Max – We need about $9 million for the local match (20% of $43 million) to build this line, then we need an additional $500,000 per year to run a MAX line instead of the current route which costs $5 million. (Prospect MAX will be $5,500,000 yearly to operate) If the current local service continues at some level, even more money is needed.
  •  Since Independence Ave and 31st St/Linwood are such great transit corridors that the city believes they deserve a streetcar, they should at least be upgraded to MAX lines.
  • We need to increase frequency on routes to increase ridership and make this a functional transit service. Routes with 1 hour or 30 minute frequencies will never be well used.

There is more, but you get the picture.

We have a second issue with the Submitted Budget but on another account: the 3/8-cent KCATA Sales Tax on page 368 of the budget. The city manager is holding over $3 million in that account at year-end. Since this sales tax is 100% dedicated to KCATA for transit, we can’t see any reason why the ending balance should be more than $500,000. Why is the city keeping so much money? KCATA_Sales_Tax_Fund_2015-2106

Supplement:

The City Manager and TAN agree on what happens if the budget amount is too high and the actual sales tax revenue is less. Under that situation, the city should use the money it held in reserve to maintain the budgeted amount as a minimum payment. Since KCATA can receive at least 95% of the sales tax, it can get a higher percentage, so the budgeted amount should be the minimum KCATA receives, Once those funds are exhausted, that would constitute a funding emergency, like the recession in 2009, and KCATA could use its reserve account to maintain service levels.

 

 

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Big Expectations For KCATA New CEO

Posted by Transit Action Network on February 18, 2015


KCATAJoe Reardon, a lawyer with McAnany, Van Cleave & Phillips and former Mayor of Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, was named the new CEO and President of the Kansas City Transportation Authority (KCATA) this afternoon. This position is new and reflects KCATA’s restructuring efforts and its goal to function as the transit authority for the whole region, as it was originally intended. Reardon will have a big impact on the future of KC regional transit.

Special KCATA Board of :Commissioners meeting at Union Station to officially chose new CEO

Special KCATA Board of :Commissioners meeting at Union Station to officially chose new CEO

Reardon has extensive governmental experience and a reputation for getting things done, as noted in the bulletin released by KCATA. Several of his significant achievements revolve around transit, such as introducing Sunday service in KCK and getting a federal TIGER grant to help build the first major transit center in KCK.

He feels he can truly make KCATA a regional entity. He wants to start by listening. He wants to understand the system as it exits today, and listen to the region as a whole and people’s vision to enhance transit, including integrating transit and trails.

A strong supporter for much-needed regional cooperation, Reardon actually teaches an MBA class at Rockhurst University on regionalism. Sounds like he is on the right track.

Robbie Makinen (Chair of KCATA BOC) Joe Reardon (New CEO/President of KCATA), Sam Desue (Acting General Manager)

Robbie Makinen (Chair of KCATA BOC) Joe Reardon (New CEO/President of KCATA), Sam Desue (Acting General Manager)

The previous top KCATA position, General Manager, focused on internal operations, but this new position is focused externally. KCATA has very good people in place internally to handle the everyday workings of the agency, so the CEO can engage the community and public leaders to move transit forward.

Reardon said that safety of both rides and drivers is his first concern and KCATA is continuing to take steps to improve safety.

For KCATA to fully realize its goal we see two items that need to be achieved by Reardon.

1. All public transit services need to come under the KCATA management/operation umbrella. Reardon said he would be working on this initiative. Efforts to achieve this goal already started when Johnson County recently returned to KCATA for transit management services. We want to see all Unified Government/KCK and Independence public transit and special transportation services return to KCATA. Reardon feels that further integrating the region is critical and one of his key missions.

2. Increase funding to expand and improve transit service. Reardon said he knows this is a critical issue and something not easily addressed but something we need to spend time and effort on. He feels it speaks to forming the right partnerships and relationships to ensure that revenue sources that are there today continue to be there, find the opportunities where we all agree the system could be better and then look to ways to enhance that.

Transit Action Network believes that succeeding in these two categories is necessary to create a KC regional transit system that is capable of getting people to significantly more than 18% of the jobs in the region in under 90 minutes, which is our current situation.

Ridership is increasing and KCATA had $15.9 million trips in 2014.  Reardon wants to hear from riders about how KCATA can improve the system, what is good about the system, and if KCATA is answering their needs.

We look forward to working with Mr. Reardon.

Additional coverage:

http://www.kansascity.com/news/government-politics/article10595201.html

http://m.bizjournals.com/kansascity/news/2015/02/18/kcata-names-new.html

 

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KCATA Announces New CEO Feb 18

Posted by Transit Action Network on February 17, 2015


The new CEO/President of the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) will be announced at a special news conference tomorrow. KCATA
  • Where: Chamber Board Room, Union Station, 30 W. Pershing, KCMO 64108
  • When: Wednesday, February 18, 2015 @ 12 p.m.
The new CEO will be available to the media directly following the news conference.

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Public Meetings Feb 11 Re-Designing Downtown Transit

Posted by Transit Action Network on February 10, 2015


DT_Transit_021115KCATA is hosting two public meetings on the plan for re-designing downtown transit.  Please attend and comment on the vision and proposed changes.

What: Public Community Meetings (Presentation followed by open house format) See flyer here.

When: Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Where: Kansas City Design Center, 1018 Baltimore, Kansas City, Mo.

Time: 11:30am-1pm & 6:30pm

Map of Downtown Concept

Map of Downtown Concept

This proposed service improvement would significantly change how transit flows downtown. The changes are being proposed because the 10th and Main Transit Center is too small to handle the bus and streetcar traffic. Additionally, new developments downtown are impacting travel demands.

KCATA’s Proposed Improvements 

The proposed downtown service improvement concept includes the following interrelated elements:

  • The reconfiguration of downtown routes based on an intersecting trunk route service design, forming Transit Emphasis Corridors (TEC) along Grand Boulevard and 11th and 12th Streets to simplify, accelerate, and improve downtown transit service.
  • Facilitate connections between bus routes and streetcar service.
  • Bus lanes on Grand Boulevard and on 11th and 12th Streets to make service faster and more reliable.
  • The consolidation of regular bus stops into Transit Emphasis Corridor (TEC) Stations to make waiting more comfortable and service faster. TEC Stations would provide facilities and amenities similar to MAX stops.
  • The development of a new East Village transit hub to improve connections and elimination of 10th & Main Transit Center.

More information about this project can be found here including maps of proposed route changes. The proposal includes changing The JO routes downtown and additional changes to Route 51-Ward Parkway.

 

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Changes to Special Transportation – Meetings This Week

Posted by Transit Action Network on February 10, 2015


KCATALast year the Regional Transit Coordinating Council initiated a process to improve Special Transportation in the region for seniors and people with disabilities. The current service is fractured in many ways, including requiring riders to fill out numerous eligibility requirement forms and make numerous calls to get across the region.

This week starts a series of public meetings to discuss some of the proposed changes. If you use Special Transportation services, such as Share-A-Fare, Dial a Ride, Special Edition or IndeAcess, or you are a stakeholder for another reason, then try to attend a meeting to find out what is happening and provide your input.Mobility_AC

Mobility Advisory Committee (MAC)

Where: Mid-America Regional Council MARC, 6th and Broadway, KCMO

When: Wednesday, Feb 11 @9:00 am

The agenda is tight so please read the full task five memorandum prepared by TranSystems. The analysis is very comprehensive and the report explains how service levels may be increased through coordination of services. Task 5 Memo, Coordination Options 12-24-14

If you have any questions or comments contact:

Tyler Means, MARC tmeans@marc.org

Jameson Auten, KCATA jauten@kcata.org

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In addition, the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) is hosting several public meetings this week to discuss proposed changes to the application process for Share-A-Fare paratransit service.

Customers and stakeholders are invited to attend one of the following meetings to learn more about the new process:

  • Tuesday, Feb. 10, 12-2 p.m., UGT State Ave. MetroCenter, 47th and State Ave., Kansas City, Kan.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 10, 4-6 p.m., The Whole Person, 3710 Main St., Kansas City, Mo.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 11, 1-2:30 p.m., KCATA Breen Building (SAF Advisory Committee Mtg.), 1200 E. 18th St., Kansas City, Mo. (One presentation during the meeting.)
  • Thursday, Feb. 12, 3-5 p.m., St. Luke’s Barry Medical Park Building, 5844 N.W. Barry Rd., Ground Floor – South Conf. Room, Kansas City, Mo.

For more information read the KCATA bulletin http://www.kcata.org/news/safapplication

 

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Transit Talk Feb 10 – Car Free By Choice in KC on 90.1FM KKFI

Posted by Transit Action Network on February 9, 2015


KKFI 90.1 FMWhat would happen if you decided to get rid of your car? Could you get around town on public transit? Why are people choosing a lifestyle without a car? How effective is public transit for getting around the region?

Find out what it is like to be “Car Free by Choice in Kansas City” as Sarah Madrid, David Johnson and Mike Lewyn discuss their reasoning for being car free and their experiences on Transit Talk with host Janet Rogers of Transit Action Network.

Where: RadioActive Magazine, 90.1FM KKFI Kansas City Community Radio

When: Tuesday Feb 10 @ 6 PM

Listen to the podcast

Many people don’t have a car because they lack the money to support a car or they have a physical impairment which keeps them from driving. Being without a car can be difficult. However, more and more people are deciding to turn in their keys and say goodbye to the costs and hassles of having a car.

Join us on Tuesday to hear from three people who made the decision to go without a car. Find out how they manage.

Sarah Madrid, grew up in KC and returned after a career in the US Foreign Service where she lived car free for many years in foreign countries.

Mike Lewyn recently moved to KC and brings a fresh evaluation of our city’s public transit network. He teaches law at UMKC.

David Johnson, a local transit advocate and member of the Streetcar Authority has been car free in KC for many years.

If you aren’t very familiar with the transit system but want to try it, there is a trip planner on the KCATA website that will tell you what you need to know to get from your current location (or a beginning location) to your destination. http://www.kcata.org/maps_schedules/trip_planner or call (816) 221-0660 for help. Wyandotte County, Johnson County and Independence buses all use this same trip planner.

Google maps allows you to plan your trip, you just have to click on the bus icon.

You can look up additional information for The JO  (As of February 1, 2015 KCATA manages The JO) http://www.jocogov.org/dept/transit/home

The Independence IndeBus http://indebusmo.com

Information on all of the Unified Government Transit (UGT) buses is available at www.KCATA.org. Some additional information is available at http://www.wycokck.org/dept.aspx?id=224&menu_id=1030

If you know your KCATA bus route then this website helps by showing you the current location of your bus. http://itsab.us/tracker/ Just click on your route and all the locations for the buses on that route will be displayed. This information is available on a regular phone with internet capability. A smart phone is not necessary.

You can try out all of the apps suggested on the KCATA app center to find out which one you like best. http://www.kcata.org/maps_schedules/app_center

Rider guides for new riders

KCATA http://www.kcata.org/rider_guide

The JO http://www.jocogov.org/dept/transit/jo/rider-guide

IndeBus http://indebusmo.com/travel-training/

If you have additional questions contact the transit agencies

KCATA, The JO and UGT call center (816) 221-0660

IndeBus 816-461-4287 (IBUS)

You can contact Transit Action Network at TransactionKC@gmail.com

Our next Transit Talk on Radio Active Magazine is MARCH 31.

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