Transit Action Network (TAN)

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

Archive for the ‘Local Transit Issues’ Category

Transit Talk on KKFI 90.1FM May 20 at 6PM

Posted by Transit Action Network on May 19, 2014


KKFI 90.1 FMJoin Transit Action Network as we interview KCATA General Manager Mark Huffer and KCATA Director of System Development Dick Jarrold Tuesday at 6pm.
Topics: Prospect MAX (the often overlooked part of the streetcar expansion plan), the Compressed Natural Gas conversion of the KCATA bus fleet, and an introduction to the work of the new Regional Transit Coordinating Council.

Where: Radio Active Magazine (previously Mic Check)  on KKFI 90.1FM Community Radio

When: Tuesday May 20 at 6pm    Podcast of show: LINK TO MAY 20 SHOW 

 

 

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Help Pick Missouri Transit And Bike/Ped Projects for the November Election – MAY 22

Posted by Transit Action Network on May 19, 2014


Where: MARC Transportation Outlook 2040 Workshopmarclogo
Sylvester Powell Community Center
6200 Martway Street
Mission, Kansas
 
When: May 22, 8:30 am to 11:30 amTransportation_Outlook_2040

Register via the MARC website at www.MARC.org

MoDOT Headquarters and Missouri State Capitol. No other major department of state government has closer proximity to the General Assembly.

MoDOT Headquarters and Missouri State Capitol. No other major department of state government has closer proximity to the General Assembly.

The Missouri General Assembly passed HJR68 to put a 3/4 percent sales tax for transportation on the ballot in November 2014. MoDOT and its local planning partners– Metropolitan Planning Organizations such as Mid-America Regional Council in Kansas City and East-West Gateway Council of Governments in St. Louis, plus Regional Planning Councils throughout the state – will develop a list of projects to be funded by the tax before the measure goes to voters.

Thus, a lot of local discussion (and deal-making) will be going on in the next couple of months.

In the Kansas City region, this process coincides with (and somewhat complicates) MARC’s already-underway update of its long-range transportation plan, Transportation Outlook 2040.

MARC will use its TO2040 workshop on May 22 to help decide project priorities for the whole region, as well as to narrow the list of projects that would be promised to Missouri voters.

Setting aside for the moment the task of adding projects in the TO2040 update, it’s crucially important to give immediate attention to the Missouri sales tax project list. The 3/4 percent statewide sales tax is projected to yield $5.34 billion over the 10 years it would be in effect, and MoDOT has told MARC its share of the total will be $816 million.

That $816 million will be spent on transportation projects within MARC’s planning area: Jackson, Clay, Platte, and Cass Counties.

Even more important is that the money isn’t restricted to highway projects. Transit, bike, and pedestrian projects are eligible, as are passenger and freight rail, airport, and river port projects. In fact, it is possible in theory that the entire $816 million could be spent without rebuilding or expanding a single highway.

Possible, but not likely. For example, MoDOT wants to rebuild I-70 across the state, and they might like to see the cost of the Kansas City region’s segment of I-70 come out of our $816 million.

MOTMIn addition, MoDOT (to say nothing of the Missouri Public Transit Association) would like to see stable funding for rural and urban transit.

Same goes for passenger rail service, the Missouri River Runner trains operated under contract by Amtrak. At present, MoDOT has to go hat-in-hand to the legislature each year for the $10 million or so it costs to keep the trains running. MoDOT might want our region’s share of that total to also come out of the $816 million.

The important thing for May 22 is that advocates for a balanced transportation investment program need to be there to express the strongest possible support for transit, pedestrian and bike projects — projects to make streets and roads safer for people not driving cars — as well as for stable funding for continuing (and increasing) passenger rail.

Register via the MARC website at www.MARC.org

Earlier TAN article:

That Penny Sales Tax — Here’s What We Are Telling the Legislature

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Regional Transit Coordinating Council Meeting May 14

Posted by Transit Action Network on May 13, 2014


marclogoTransit_Coordinating_Council-2Attend the Regional Transit Coordinating Council’s next meeting

When: May 14, 2014 @ 1:30 pm
Where: Mid-America Regional Council
600 Broadway Ste. 200, Kansas City, Missouri 64105KCATA

This council is having a real impact on regional transit issues.

Tomorrow’s meeting will cover

  1. Quick Wins: Regional Call Center Integration, Google Transit Feed, and Fare Study Update
  2. Presentation on Regional Branding Strategy – Willoughby Design will present the regional transit brand process, discuss public feedback gathered to date, and next steps.
  3. Transit Project List for Transportation Outlook 2040 and Missouri Statewide Tax and Priorities
  4. Programming and Planning
    1. Paratransit Coordination Work Plan
    2. Special Transportation- Job Access Partnership and RTCC Update
    3. Project Applications (CMAQ, STP, TA) Follow-Up
    4. TIGER VI Application
  5. Transit Stakeholder Forum Update and Next Meeting – Staff will present outcomes of March 27th meeting and discuss next meeting

There is a public comment section at the beginning of the meeting. You must sign up.

 

 

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Streetcar Steering Committee Releases Recommendations and Draft Report

Posted by Transit Action Network on March 25, 2014


Next_RailTransit Action Network hasn’t had an opportunity to fully evaluate the streetcar recommendations from this morning’s meeting of the Steering Committee, or to read through the whole draft report, but we wanted to share some early insights. Full draft report:KansasCityStreetcarPhaseIIPlanDRAFTv4

The recommended endpoints for the routes have been well publicized today:Recommendations_KCStreetcarPhaseIIPlanDRAFTv4

  • Independence Avenue route: terminus Benton Avenue;
  • Linwood Route: terminus Prospect Avenue;
  • Main Street route: terminus Volker (vicinity of UMKC).

This system would add an additional 7.6 miles to the Downtown Streetcar for a total of 9.8 miles. The Prospect MAX recommendation is 9.1 miles long.

Even with these shortened routes, the projected ridership numbers are significantly higher than estimated earlier in the preliminary report last November. With this phase of the study, we became one of the first cities in the nation to use the FTA’s new ridership model, STOPS (Simplified Trips‐on‐Project Software), and no one really knew what to expect. Increased ridership numbers improve the chances of qualifying for federal New Starts funds. Information on the different ridership scenarios is on pages 82/83 of the report. Depending on operating frequency, ridership in this system is expected to rise between 19% and 36% over the current bus ridership.

Average ridership KCStreetcarPhaseIIPlanDRAFTv4The biggest change is the recommendation to change the boundaries of the TDD and the number of property owners subject to the special property tax assessment. The new map still has to be adopted by the City Council on Thursday, so this is still under discussion. It is interesting to note that the Brookside and Waldo area, and everything south of Gregory have been removed like a big bite out of the original taxing district, yet most of the area east of the proposed streetcar line is still intact.KansasCityStreetcarPhaseIIPlanDRAFTv4 This was already pointed out by Yael Abouhalkah of The Star when he tweeted this morning:   

KCStreetcar fact: Brooksiders few blocks away from line won’t be in TDD. East Siders MILES away will be in TDD. Fair?

The special property tax assessment would only be applied to properties within 1/3 of a mile of the streetcar line instead of ½ mile.

The recommendation has shortened the routes (a decrease in cost) while shrinking the size of the TDD (a decrease in revenue). As a result, even if the Federal government provides 50% of the capital costs, the project funding is over $53 million short, as discussed on pages 114/115 of the report.  As the report states: “The consultant team recognizes that a $53,000,000 funding gap in this financial model is not insignificant.”

The project team suggests several scenarios to make up the funding difference. Notice that one of the methods to make up “some” of this gap is continuing to use $2 million out of the ½ cent transportation sales tax fund, which also pays for the bus system. The current ordinance makes this amount the maximum amount allowed to divert to the streetcar, but the City Council has reminded us repeatedly and emphatically that they could change the ordinances anytime they wanted.

We are still concerned about how the streetcar will integrate with the bus system and we understand that council members, KCATA and the study team are all still investigating these operating concerns. Transit Action Network originally highlighted this issue at MARC before it was on most people’s radar, but it is extremely important to riders. There is some basic information on page 81 in the report about bus integration, but this is still in a preliminary stage. At this point, there are forced transfers in the plan: Route 24 would be eliminated west of Benton and only run east of Benton to feed the streetcar, and Main Street MAX would be eliminated north of 51st Street with a possible exception during rush hour —“Limited through bus service from the Waldo/ Brookside area may be provided to continue to provide a “one seat ride” for commuters to the downtown area.” They aren’t clear about reducing the 31st street bus but want to do more study.

Integration between the streetcar and  the bus in the same corridor affects ridership projections because forced transfers reduce ridership, but more importantly it affects how riders will use the streetcar/bus system to travel in the corridor. Will riders continue to have a one-seat trip to major destinations, or will they be forced to transfer between the streetcar and the bus? The report acknowledges this:

SW  TDD corner

SW TDD corner

“In some cases, streetcar service may replace all or part of existing bus routes. Where this occurs, options to minimize transfers and maintain some level of through-service should be explored. “

Overall, there is a lot to digest, and the Council has important decisions to consider when it holds a public hearing Thursday morning (9 am, City Hall) before a joint meeting of the Planning and Economic Development and Transportation and Infrastructure Committees. Although the report is 832 pages long, the most relevant content of the report is in the first 135 pages.

 

 

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Streetcar Corridor Workshop Meetings Feb 26, 27 and Mar 6

Posted by Transit Action Network on February 26, 2014


The  Next Rail project team for the Phase 2 streetcar extension is having the second round of corridor workshops starting this week.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Corridor Workshops Round #2

Linwood Boulevard/31st Street Corridor Meeting

Wednesday, February 26 @ 6-8 PM
Mohart Multi-Purpose Center
3200 Wayne Ave, Kansas City, MO 64109

 Independence Avenue Corridor Meeting

Thursday, February 27 @ 6-7:30 PM
Don Bosco Senior Center
580 Campbell St, Kansas City, MO 64106

 Main Street Plus Corridor Meeting

Thursday, March 6 @ 6-8 PM
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
4041 Main Street, Kansas City, MO 64111

Get the latest information, ask questions and express your concerns or undying support for the project. Some misinformation is already circulating about the proposed streetcar system.  Don’t let bad information affect your judgment of the project.

Another way to get a deeper understanding of what is being planned is to read the System Wide Analysis that Next Rail published in November 2013.   Next Rail KC System Overview TDD-Expansion-Map-787x1024

Last November this report provided the basis for choosing  the three routes for further study. The information in this preliminary report is being used to advance the plan, including an amendment to the region’s Long-Range Transportation Plan at MARC, and developing the potential boundaries of the Transportation Development District (TDD). Read the Next Rail FAQ on the proposed TDD and information on the tax structure. Proposed-Expansion-TDD-FAQ

Proposed Streetcar routes - Plain. Click to enlarge.

Proposed Streetcar routes – Plain. Click to enlarge.

An important question for the workshops is “Has the subsequent detailed study of the three selected corridors changed any of the assumptions or outcomes from the preliminary report?”

The final report isn’t due until the end of March or beginning of April, so the plan is still in flux, and public input can make a difference.

Pages  10-11 of the Next Rail System Overview report have the evaluation matrix used to choose the routes. It includes summary information like projected cost and preliminary ridership numbers. It is clear why the city chose Main Street, Independence Avenue and 31st Street/Linwood for further study. However, since the numbers in this report are only preliminary, expect to see changes in the final report.

Although everyone wants to know which routes will go forward,  you won’t hear that yet. Here is a table of the possible streetcar lengths, not including the downtown streetcar of 2.2 miles. The maximum length of all the streetcar routes being considered for the extension is 16.4 miles. Obviously the city isn’t going to construct all of this now.  The city has talked about 8-10 miles of additional routes, but that depends on how much federal money it can get. Help the city determine the highest priorities for construction.GetInline

BUSES: We are concerned about how the streetcar will coordinate with bus service in the three corridors, particularly the extent to which riders might have to transfer between streetcar and bus to complete trips that do not currently require a transfer. 

Starting on page 120 of the Next Rail System Overview there is a section titled Impacts on existing transit service that generally describes how the streetcar service would integrate with the current bus transit system.  Keep in mind that this is a plan and can be changed.

Please attend the Corridor Workshops and bring your questions.

As discussions continue about streetcar extensions, don’t forget how exciting it is that construction has started on the Downtown Streetcar. Remember the journey to get to this point and watch TAN’s videos on the KC Streetcar Stroll  and the party celebrating the election win, KC Streetcar Party, on TAN videos

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Attend Public Budget Hearing in KCK Feb. 6

Posted by Transit Action Network on February 3, 2014


UG logoTransit supporters needed to help shape the future of transit in Wyandotte County/KCKconnex.

Where: Public Budget Hearing
Commission Chamber
701 N 7th Street
Kansas City, Kansas
 
When: February 6, 2014 at 7 PM
Contact rlindsey@wycokck.org for additional information

Sign up to speak when you first arrive and prepare up to 5 minutes of testimony in support of transit needs in Wyandotte County. Also, be sure to thank the Commission for the great transit improvements over the last year, including the upgrade of Route #101 to the State Ave. CONNEX service with beautiful new facilities and transit centers and an upgrade to large buses on the route. See you at the hearing!!

 
 

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Action Alert: KCMO – Please Allow A New Transit Service For The Elderly and Visually Impaired

Posted by Transit Action Network on January 30, 2014


kcmo_big_logoTransit Action Network sent the Kansas City Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee a letter of support for Ordinance 140028, which would allow a local non-profit charitable organization affiliated with a state or national non-profit charitable organization to operate a vehicle for hire to transport persons who are 65 years of age or older or visually impaired. TAN letter of support for Ordinance 140028

Currently there is an ordinance protecting taxis from competition. This ordinance narrowly opens the door for a limited type of organization to provide “for hire” transit services for a limited group of people, but the ordinance is significant since it changes the “status quo”.ITN_KC-2

The issue came up because a new service provider, Independent Transportation Network® (ITN) — the first and only national non-profit transportation system for America’s aging population, wants to enter the Kansas City market.  They are in 25 markets around the country and they already operate in Lee’s Summit.

ITN provides a unique service that taxis and most paratransit services don’t offer.

From ITN’s Greater Kansas City website:

Characteristics of the Service

  1. Membership based – people 65 years and older (age eligibility varies by affiliate), and visually impaired adults are eligible to join
  2. Community based affiliates are supported by private, rather than public resources
  3. Affordable fares that are typically lower than a comparable taxi ride
  4. Available 24/7 for any purpose
  5. Not “just a taxi” – drivers provide arm-through-arm, door-through-door service and help with packages
  6. No money is exchanged in the vehicle, and tips are not accepted
  7. Riders pre-fund a Personal Transportation Account™, and a monthly statement details all payments and charges
  8. Uses private automobiles, rather than vans or buses
  9. Fees cover rides booked at least 24 hours in advance; same day requests will be accommodated with an additional fee

Most taxi and special transportation services for the elderly are curb-to-curb (you have to get yourself to the curb) or door-to-door (you have to get yourself to the door). There are a growing number of frail elderly people or visually impaired people who require additional help.  ITN provides that additional help with their arm-through-arm, door-through-door service (if needed, drivers come into the home or the office or the shops to assist you getting to the vehicle). This service does not apply to people requiring a wheelchair, since ITN uses private automobiles.

This extra level of service comes at a price. ITN is a monthly subscription service. Since they aren’t asking for a public subsidy, users have to cover the cost, but the drivers are volunteers, which help keep the cost down. A monthly pilot subscription in Lee’s Summit costs $125. Contact ITN for more details. Phone: (816) 500-4377 Email: info@itngreaterkansascity.org

We can’t vouch specifically for ITN, but we do know that it is time to provide more transportation options for the elderly and visually impaired since there is a transit crisis looming caused by the rapid increase in the elderly population. MARC is already having meetings to find a way to deal with the issues related to “Older People Transportation” and we need to allow additional legitimate services to operate.

We’d like to thank Councilmen Johnson and Sharp for sponsoring this ordinance and we request that the mayor and full council adopt Ordinance 140028.

If you haven’t already done so, please contact your council member or the mayor and request adoption of Ordinance 140028.

The T&I committee is expected to address this ordinance on February 6, 2014 at 8:45 am at City Hall, 10th Floor.

ITN America website

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State Ave. CONNEX Gets Big Buses Jan 5

Posted by Transit Action Network on December 23, 2013


UG logoRiders Rejoice!  The 101 – State Avenue CONNEX route in Wyandotte County/KCK will start using large buses seven days a week on January 5, 2014.connex

TAN advocated for this upgrade and we are extremely happy that the change is being made.

We recently communicated with Mayor Holland and reminded him of the commitment he made last February during our candidate forum to alleviate the overcrowded conditions on this route when it changed to a Connex service . UGT was expecting about 1400-1600 riders daily when the Connex route started, but instead they have seen days with 2200-2300 riders.

Even though the mayor, commissioners and the city administrator knew how overcrowded this route was, they had to find a way to pay the additional $230,000 yearly for the larger buses. UGT and KCATA worked with everyone to find a financial solution. Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) funds will provide 80% the money next year with Unified Government providing the local matching funds.  Read KCATA’s news release

Now riders can enjoy more room on the buses as well as the improved facilities provided by the TIGER grant.

Transit Trends in UG

Recently Unified Government has been improving transit when there is a demonstrated need, such as the planned Rosedale/Argentine line. TAN hopes this favorable attitude toward transit continues.

In 2012 Mayor (then Commissioner) Holland  worked with TAN when we successfully advocated for large buses on Saturdays for this same route.

Last February we questioned the mayoral candidates about this very issue and received a campaign commitment from then candidate Holland.

Mayor Holland answered our forum question regarding the already overcrowded Route #101 with a resounding commitment to improve the service later in the year.

Question: Route 101 will change to the Connex service later this year. Will you make sure that the upgrade in service level is enough to alleviate the current overcrowded conditions, without negatively impacting other services?

 Mark Holland – Absolutely. It looks like this improvement will make a huge difference.

See all of his answers in our the February forum. http://wp.me/pV5fE-1rK

Unified Government does not have any revenue dedicated to transit like Kansas City, MO does, but prefers to allocate funds as needed.  Their local transit funds come out of the General Revenue account, so it is good to see the County providing additional funds for transit when a definite need arises.

TAN particularly appreciates the commitment to better transit from Mayor Holland, Commissioner Murguia and the Assistant County Administrator, Gordon Criswell (who is in charge of transit). Commissioner Murguia is now a member of MARC’s Total Transportation Policy Committee, which means we will see her on a regular basis to discuss transit issues in Wyandotte County.

Riders, enjoy the large buses!

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Attend the First Transit Stakeholder Forum – Dec 17

Posted by Transit Action Network on December 9, 2013


marclogoMid-America Regional Council (MARC) has announced the first meeting date for the new Transit Stakeholder Forum.Transit_Stakeholder_Fourm-2

When: December 17, 2013,  5 pm to 6:30 pm
Where: Mid-America Regional Council
600 Broadway, Suite 200, Kansas City, Mo

No membership is required for this forum and meetings are open to the public.

This meeting marks the beginning of a new chapter in transit outreach in the region. This forum provides an opportunity for public feedback from users, potential users and advocates to improve the transit experience in KC.

MARC wants to widen participation in transit discussions by including all interested parties and getting positive feedback for improvements to the regional transit system.

From the MARC website:

This forum provides public input for the Transit Coordinating Council, which advises MARC, the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority and local transit partners and jurisdictions on issues, such as regional transit planning, coordination and implementation of priorities.Transit_Coordinating_Council-2 The goals for this forum include:

  • Providing input to the area stakeholders about improvement of accessibility of area transit services.
  •  Providing input on the expansion of regional transit services, in ways that are consistent with the Smart Moves Regional Transit Vision.
  •  Allowing for some interaction with members of the Transit Coordinating Council or members of partner agencies and MARC representatives.

The Transit Stakeholder Forum (TSF) and the Transit Coordinating Council (TCC) work together to replace the MARC Transit Committee. The TCC has already started working on system improvements toward achieving seamless transit and part of the first meeting will be spent presenting those changes and asking for input to make the improvements even better. Some improvements include an online interactive regional transit map for the whole system and getting Google Trip Planner and the Regional Call Center to work for the whole system. Read our previous post New Transit Coordinating Council Off To a Good Start to see what TCC has been working on.

The meeting will provide an opportunity for the public to meet with representatives from each of the transit agencies.

This meeting is not a one-time event, although the Forum doesn’t currently have a meeting schedule. A meeting schedule should be discussed at the first meeting. The TSF is one of MARC’s standing committees and it functions as an adjunct to the TCC. They need to work together to get the best results.

The TSF can help minimize or eliminate the barriers to seamless travel in the KC region and provide a better transit system, but only if the public gets involved. The biggest challenge will be to make improvements within the limited funds available for public transit. TCC is already working to increase those funds.

TAN has advocated for a public transit forum for a long time.  Now that we have it, let’s make it a success!

If you are unable to attend this meeting and wish to submit a comment or questions through TAN, please send us an email at TransActionKC@gmail.com See you on December 17th!!!

See MARC’s webpage for the Transit Stakeholder Forum

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Public Meeting for Streetcar Expansion – North of the River – Nov 21

Posted by Transit Action Network on November 20, 2013


Want to get involved in the expansion of the streetcar north of the river? NorthRail_Kick-Off_Flyer

Attend the first public meeting and share your ideas.

When: Thursday, November 21, 6:00PM to 8:00PM
Where: Community Room, North Kansas City Community Center
1999 Iron St, North Kansas City, MO 64116

Direct questions to Karen Clawson at kclawson@marc.org

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Public Meeting About A Possible Prospect MAX – Oct 22

Posted by Transit Action Network on October 21, 2013


METRO logoKCATA, City of Kansas City, MO, and Mid-America Regional Council are having a public meeting to discuss the possibility of a MAX line on Prospect from Downtown to South Kansas City.

When: Oct 22, 5 pm to 7 pm
Where: Emmanuel’s Community Center, 3510 Prospect Ave., Kansas City, MO 64128MAX brt

The planning process in underway so it is important to get input from customers and area residents.

At the meeting:

  • See and tour a MAX bus
  • Ask questions about possible MAX service and submit comments
  • Enjoy complimentary appetizers

Bus connections: Take 71-Prospect or 35-35th Street to the community center. Plan a trip online or call 816-221-0660 for assistance with schedules.

KCATA link   Let’s Talk Prospect MAX

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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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Rosedale and Argentine Neighborhoods Get New Transit Service May 2014

Posted by Transit Action Network on August 13, 2013


Erin, Carol, Carroll and Rachel conducting the Rosedale Transit Survey

Erin, Carol, Carroll and Rachel conducting the Rosedale Transit Survey

The Unified Government of Wyandotte County Board of Commissioners approved a 2014 budget that includes a new bus route serving the Rosedale and Argentine neighborhoods.  Bus the Boulevard, an informal coalition composed of representatives from Rainbow Mennonite Church, Rosedale Development Association, Rosedale Ridge Apartments, Westwood Christian Church and Transit Action Network, started working in October 2012 to get a new bus route on Southwest Boulevard.UG logo

Bus the Boulevard came together when Rosedale residents began voicing their concerns about Rosedale Ridge, an apartment complex housing 160 families that is isolated from public transit at the top of a very steep hill.  Residents reported having little access to grocery stores, places of employment, and medical care and having to walk over 1.5 miles to the nearest bus stop.  The group began gathering data about the transportation needs of Rosedale Ridge residents and sharing their results with UG Transit.

In response to the data, UG Transit designed a totally new route (pictured as a blue line in the map below). According to Emerick Cross, Director of UG Transit,   “Currently, the newly proposed Rosedale bus route will run from 47th Street (Oklahoma Joe’s area) by KU Med. down to SW Blvd. onto Merriam Lane, north on 18th Street Expressway to Argentine and back.”

Waiting to testify at the UG Finance Committee budget meeting. Erin, Connie, Carroll, and Carol

Waiting to testify at the UG Finance Committee budget meeting.
Erin, Connie, Carroll, and Carol

The route connects Rosedale residents with medical care at the University of Kansas Hospital, the University of Kansas Medical Center, and Southwest Boulevard Family Health Care on the east end, and the new Save-A-Lot Grocery store on Metropolitan Avenue, as well as the Argentine Community Center and the South Branch Library, on the west end.

The new route is scheduled to start running on May 1st, 2014, following a service study by KCATA.

According to Erin Stryka from Rosedale Development Association, “We are thrilled to see people who live, work and play in Rosedale connected to essential community resources through the new bus line!”

All of the coalition members appreciate the help and support provided by UG Transit and District 3 Commissioner Ann Murguia.  We are very excited by this successful result and we thank the UG Commissioners for funding this new service.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Posted in Local Transit Issues, Meeting Reports | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Ribbon Cuttings KCK Metro Centers – Aug 9 and Sept 27, New Connex Service – Aug 11

Posted by Transit Action Network on August 5, 2013


INVITATION_7th_Street_METROCENTER.jpg_and_Document1 Kansas City, Kansas has a lot to celebrate with the start of the new Route #101 State Avenue Connex service and the opening of two new Metro Centers.

Join them for the first ribbon cutting:TIGER

What: Downtown KCK MetroCenter Grand Opening

Where: 7th and Minnesota

When: Friday, August 9, 2013, 10–11 a.m.

For more information about the grand opening, visit the Unified Government Transit website.

In addition, the Route #101 State Avenue CONNEX service will start Sunday, August 11th.

There are changes to the route from the current alignment, especially in downtown KCK where the route will be straightened out along Minnesota Ave.

New Alignment effective Aug. 11, 2013

New CONNEX Alignment effective Aug. 11, 2013

The new service and transit center will affect these routes:

101-Minnesota-State Ave.
102-Central Ave.
103-3rd Street-Fairfax
104-Argentine
106-Quindaro
107-7th Street
115-Kansas Avenue

The changes to these seven routes serving downtown KCK should create more convenient connections between Metro and Unified Government Transit routes.

For details of route and schedule changes see the related KCATA  bulletin.

The next ribbon cutting is scheduled for September 27th at the 47th Street Midtown KCK MetroCenter (47th and State Avenue/Indian Springs).

These transit centers are part of Kansas City’s $50 million TIGER (Transportation Improvements Generating Economic Recovery) grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

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

Watch the  TIGER Progress Report  episode 9 to learn more about local transportation and transit improvements, including construction of the 7th and Minnesota Transit Center.

To learn more about the impact of TIGER on the Kansas City region, visit www.marc.org/TIGER.

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NEXT RAIL – Streetcar Expansion Kickoff Event – August 8

Posted by Transit Action Network on July 31, 2013


Next_RailKC needs your ideas on how to move forward with Phase 2, an expansion of the streetcar system.

August 8

Union Station

30 West Pershing Road, Kansas City, Missouri 64108

6pm – 8pm

According to the NEXT Rail Facebook page, “Through a community-based and data-driven process, the City of Kansas City, Missouri will develop a plan for the expansion of the Downtown Streetcar line into a citywide network that creates new connections between people and places and catalyzes the revitalization of our neighborhoods. “DTSC

Join them at the NEXT Rail kickoff event:

Agenda

6:00 PM Opening remarks by Mayor Sly James and other elected officials
6:30 PM Public presentation on the project
7:00 PM Interactive model exercise

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A New Vision for KCATA

Posted by Transit Action Network on July 24, 2013


METRO logoKCATA has launched an ambitious new plan to re-invent itself. Will it succeed? Will it adopt a new name in the process? Will we finally see real progress toward a unified regional transit system? Those are some of the questions that could be answered in the next couple of years.

Robbie Makinen, Chair of the KCATA Board of Commissioners, met with TAN for an hour and a half at both our May and July meetings for in-depth discussions about the big changes being contemplated at the area’s transportation authority.

So what is really going on? When Makinen was appointed as Jackson County’s representative on the KCATA Board he discovered that KCATA had significantly more power than it was using. After all, KCATA was created by an act of the US Congress to be the transportation authority for this seven-county region.  It’s charter is modeled after that of the New York Port Authority (NYPA), which gives it broad powers, including operating and/or managing all types of public transportation: buses, local rail systems, and even airports.  What’s more, KCATA has broad development powers: they could even build a skyscraper.

When Independence bid out its intra-city bus routes and decided on a different transit operator in 2012, KCATA realized it was time to reconsider its regional role. “KCATA doesn’t have to operate everything,” Makinen says. He thinks KCATA keeps its extra powers in a “locked box”, and he decided it was time to open that box.

So what has been keeping KCATA from assuming a broader regional role and vision?  Part of the problem lies in the fact that even though Congress gave it all the powers like the NYPA, they failed to include taxing authority. KCATA cannot act on its own to raise money like the NYPA does with taxes, fees, etc. KCATA can only provide its services under contract, and most of the government entities in the region haven’t come up with much money to purchase transit.

Why change now? The important factor driving this change is that public transit service is becoming more fragmented in our region. That not only leads to operational inefficiencies, but it also presents riders a  bewildering array of inconsistent fare structures and policies, operating practices, and other barriers to riding transit.  In short, a transit experience that is anything but seamless. What’s more, in many parts of the region public transit doesn’t even exist.

In addition to KCATA, the Kansas City region is currently served by Unified Government Transit (UGT), Johnson County Transit (JCT) and now the Independence Transit Service (IndeBus). In 2015, the Downtown Streetcar will be a fifth operating system. KCATA chose not to bid on operating the streetcar.

To start the KCATA visioning process, the KCATA Board of Commissioners had a strategic planning meeting the end of April to explore how to re-invent and/or re-structure in order to utilize its additional powers.

(See the board briefing paper summarizing that meeting below.)

The briefing paper outlines four priorities:

1.    Stakeholder Coalition
2.    Organizational Restructuring
3.    Bi-State Compact Review
4.   
Regional Service Needs Assessment

Let’s look at each of these priorities.

1. Stakeholder Coalition. KCATA General Manager Mark Huffer made the first public presentation about the new vision at the May meeting of the KCATA Board of Commissioners. That meeting was also attended by the “KCATA Funding Review Committee” of the KCMO City Council.  See Mr. Huffer’s presentation below.

Since then Makinen and Vice-Chair Steve Klika, along with other Board members and Huffer, have been speaking to elected officials, and with civic and business leaders, in order to achieve the extensive stakeholder involvement needed to make KCATA’s anticipated restructuring a success.

KCATA_BOC_Visioning_Process

Possible new organizational structure for KCATA

2. Organizational restructuring. KCATA expects to have plans completed for significant restructuring by the end of this year. Bus operations would be separated from administrative and regional functions. Other units might be created to manage other transit operations, provide a wide array of transit support functions separate from direct bus operations, and initiate community and economic development projects.

As Makinen is fond of saying “There are things the ATA does in its sleep that other agencies do not want or need to do separately.” He continues that,  “ATA can manage and/or operate a regional multi-modal public transportation system and I am really pleased that the Board of Commissioners has embraced this direction.“

3. Bi-State Compact review. The bi-state compact that created the KCATA in 1965-6 establishes all the powers the Authority has as well as the composition of the Board of Commissioners.

Some people think the composition of the Board of Commissioners needs to be reviewed.

Is it important to change the structure of KCATA’s governing board? Changing the composition of the KCATA Board hardly matters in the short-term, if it matters at all. KCATA can make the structural, administrative and functional changes in its new vision without making any changes to the board. What matters is that the region sees members of the board as engaged, proactive, and responsive to the needs of the community and its clients. In addition, changing the composition of the board is complicated. It requires agreement locally on a new structure, getting governors from both Kansas and Missouri to agree and then getting an Act of the US Congress to make the changes. That probably won’t happen quickly even if everyone could agree on a new structure. It would likely take two years, minimum, once local agreement is reached.

While restructuring might be discussed as a part of a broader regional engagement process, our preference is that restructuring be the last phase in the process. There are too many ways that debate over governance structure could derail other more important improvements. Instead, let’s evaluate how big an impact a reorganized ATA can have without changing its governance structure.

If a change to the composition of the board is needed down the line, so be it, but if KCATA is moving away from only being a bus operator, there isn’t clarity today on what a new structure should look like for a re-invented KCATA. Old ideas for changing governance revolved around representation based on who contracts for bus service.

If KCATA can re-make itself to truly function as the “AREA Transportation Authority,” instead of  JUST a bus operator, then having a broad-based Board of Commissioners from across the region — such as provided in the current structure — may still be the best regional make-up.

4. Regional Service Needs Assessment:  Under a “new” KCATA, regional needs are seen as combination of transit related activities and development activities.

A. Transit related functions:

  • Current Bus Operations. KCATA would continue to manage and operate the current transit services such as The Metro, Share-A-Fare, and the Van Pool program.
  • Management of Other Transit Operations. This one little item would be the biggest change to KCATA’s functions, as you will see in Huffer’s presentation, under a revamped KCATA umbrella organization. This change would require KCATA to reorganize internally to ensure that its current transit operations are separate from a new function of managing rather than operating transit.
  • Downtown Streetcar. The Kansas City Streetcar Authority (KCSA) is responsible for selecting an operator and setting operating policies for the Downtown Streetcar line. There are questions about their ongoing role once the streetcars are operating, and it’s quite possible they will fade away and turn over management to another entity such as KCATA.
  • Commuter Rail. If Jackson County establishes a commuter rail system, they might contract with a private company to operate that rail system. KCATA might fulfill the management role.
  • Smart Moves. KCATA might take the lead in implementing the Smart Moves regional transit concept created by MARC over a decade ago. Most of the concept has never been implemented since there isn’t an implementing body for the whole plan. KCATA could play a role in ensuring that these services are operated in an integrated, coordinated manner.
  • Transit Coordinating Council.  KCATA is slated to co-chair the new Transit Coordinating Council. MARC and KCATA are jointly creating this new council, which will work to bring the various transit agencies together to work for a more seamless regional transit system.
  • Economies of Scale. KCATA would coordinate regional activities to leverage economies of scale and improve efficiencies for all the transit agencies. Examples from Huffer’s presentation:  Fuel Purchasing, Vehicle Procurement, Grant Writing, Planning, Marketing, and Paratransit Services
  • Expanded transit support operations: KCATA already operates the Regional Call Center, and provides some limited support services, primarily for The JO. These services could be expanded to include maintenance of on-street transit facilities such as bus stops and shelters, scheduling and dispatching systems, purchasing, etc.
  • Administrative functions for others.  KCATA is already assisting KCMO and KCSA in administrative matters related to federal grants for the streetcar, and it helped the Streetcar Authority put together the RFP (request for proposals) to find an operator. KCATA could broaden its efforts in grant administration and contract management.

B. Development Activities

  • Community and Economic Development  Chairman Makinen has been very outspoken about KCATA expansion into these realms, “We need to re-think the role of the KCATA. It has a major role in helping the region be successful and create seamless transit. But we also need to change the mindset and perception of the ATA. Cities and the region should look to the ATA for both Community Development and Economic Development opportunities as well as transit coordination and services.” Makinen’s example of using the ATA to improve the community is the Early Development Learning Center combined with the Metro Center at 39th and Troost. For economic development he reminds us that KCATA applied for and received about $24 million from the FTA toward renovation of Union Station, and some $12 million or so of that was used to construct “The Link,” which connects Union Station with Crown Center.   “These examples barely tap ATA’s potential for community and economic development projects,” he says.
  • TOD  Transit Oriented Development is often cited as a goal with transit projects, but like Smart Moves, unless some group is designated to make it happen, it usually doesn’t. MARC is a planning agency and doesn’t engage in implementation. Los Angeles and Portland have significant TOD because their transit authorities have dedicated departments to make that happen.  If this region really wants new development that is designed to support and capitalize on transit, then KCATA could be the agency that makes that happen.

Finally, KCATA is considering renaming or re-branding itself.  MTA – Metropolitan Transit Authority?  RTD – Regional Transit District?  Something with a more distinctive regional flavor?  It’s very much open to discussion.

These are all big ideas and big potential changes for KCATA. Some of these changes will be easier to implement than others. The Amalgamated Transit Union, for example, has expressed concern about KCATA branching out to manage transit operators that don’t include ATU members.

So there are opportunities and challenges ahead.  KCATA plans to use more of its existing powers to build an integrated seamless transit service in the Kansas City region, along with great community and economic development projects.

Stay tuned for big changes at the KCATA.

BOARD BRIEFING PAPER strategic planning

Huffer’s presentation at BOC KCATA BOC Visioning Process

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Gladstone’s North Oak Transit Stops – Opportunity Lost?

Posted by Transit Action Network on July 19, 2013


City_of_Gladstone__MissouriThis morning we saw a Tweet from one of KCATA’s people about a new real-time arrival sign at 70th and North Oak.  We hadn’t been up that way in a while, and hadn’t even been aware that these signs were being installed, so we hopped on the next Route 142 – North Oak bus to have a look.

Southbound stop on the west side of North Oak

Southbound stop on the west side of North Oak. It has a shelter and bench, a trash receptacle, and a pedestal that holds the digital sign.

Real-time arrival sign at Southbound Gladstone Route 142 stop, 70th and North Oak. The display is working, it's just that our camera speed is too fast to capture it.

Real-time arrival sign at Southbound Gladstone Route 142 stop, 70th and North Oak. The display is working, it’s just that our camera speed is too fast to capture it.

We found two very nice stops, one of which had a digital real-time arrival sign that was indeed working.

Ironically, the “official” bus stop sign is still attached to a well-worn utility pole just beyond the pedestal, and we’re not sure it will ever become physically attached to the stop.  (It seems that KCATA bus stop signs are never attached to shelters.  We don’t understand why that is.)  We think the color leaves something to be desired (gray is not very noticeable) and we’re always concerned about bus shelter roofs that slope toward the street because that occasional snow and ice build-up is eventually going to slide onto the sidewalk, if not onto someBODY.

There's a crosswalk nearby to cross North Oak, but the call button is about shoulder high and oriented wrong, and thus not ADA compliant.

There’s a crosswalk nearby to cross North Oak, but the call button is about shoulder high and oriented wrong, and thus not ADA compliant.

Northbound Route 142 Gladstone stop at NE 70th Street. Nice, but there's not going to be any shade.

Northbound Route 142 Gladstone stop at NE 70th Street. Nice, but there’s not going to be any shade.

But all in all, it’s nicely done.

Nearby is a crosswalk for getting across North Oak.  It has a call button that you push to get a walk light, but it’s located on the wrong side of the pole.

Moreover, it’s mounted about shoulder height, and there’s a concrete curb at the base of the pole, so it’s probably not ADA compliant.  (This is something for Gladstone to fix, not KCATA.)

Across the street is the northbound Route 142 stop.

It’s nicely designed and landscaped, too, but it looks like there’s not going to be a roof.  Unfortunate.

These stops are part of the TIGER-funded transit improvements in the North  Oak Corridor.  Route 142 is the busiest route in the Northland, carrying nearly 1,000 riders each weekday, and it’s expected to become the Northland’s first bus rapid transit route.  There are 31 round trips each weekday, with fewer trips on Saturdays and Sundays.  That translates to over 180 trips in each direction every week.  Pretty respectable, considering that the Metcalf – Shawnee Mission Parkway corridor in Johnson County (Routes 556/856 and 664) has only 125 trips per week, all of them on weekdays.

But we wonder why these stops are on North Oak rather than closer to Gladstone’s “downtown.” Has Gladstone missed an opportunity by not insisting that Route 142 swing over to North Holmes, a mere quarter-mile to the east?  Yes, that might add a total of about two minutes to the schedule, but it would provide access to the Gladstone’s City Hall, Central Park, Community Center  and Gladstone Office Building.

Maybe there was extensive discussion at a public meeting that we missed.  (We can’t be everywhere.)  Maybe there were some overriding reasons to not serve the heart of Gladstone’s “civic center.”  We just don’t know.

Nevertheless, the new shelters and other bus stop improvements all up and down North Oak (and the rest of the route westward along Barry Road to Boardwalk Square) are a welcome and very positive addition to public transit in the Northland.

Gladstone City Hall, northwest corner of 70th and North Holmes.

Gladstone City Hall, northwest corner of 70th and North Holmes.

Gladstone Central Park, northeast corner of 70th and North Holmes.

Gladstone Central Park, northeast corner of 70th and North Holmes.

 Gladstone Community Center, southeast corner of 70th and North Holmes


Gladstone Community Center, southeast corner of 70th and North Holmes

 Gladstone Office Building, southwest corner of 70th and North Holmes.


Gladstone Office Building, southwest corner of 70th and North Holmes.

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First Look at KCATA’S New “Clean Air” Buses – July 10 at 10am

Posted by Transit Action Network on July 9, 2013


KCATA unveils its new CNG (Compressed Natural Gas ) buses tomorrow.

Compressed_Natural_Gas_Unveiling-5

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