Transit Action Network (TAN)

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

Archive for the ‘Meeting Reports’ Category

RTCC Tackles Big Transit Issues – Funding and Paratransit

Posted by Transit Action Network on March 21, 2014

marclogoThe Regional Transit Coordinating Council (RTCC) was formed last September (see  New Transit Coordinating Council Off To A Good Start),  but it is already tackling some of the region’s toughest transit issues: Getting more funding for transit projects, and coordinating paratransit in the region.Transit_Coordinating_Council-2

ONE: Funding: Transit is always plagued with insufficient money to do everything that needs to be done. So when some of the region’s most influential public officials — mayors, council members, public administrators — put their heads together with MARC and the transit agencies to get additional transit funding, it can be a formidable group.

What money are they going after?

Other than the diminishing federal money that goes from the Federal Transit Administration directly to transit operators, there are three major sources of federal transit money currently available to be “programmed” (allocated to projects) at MARC.Federal_Funds_to_program_in_2014

  • The smallest amount is $17.1 million from the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). This is most often used for bike and pedestrian projects.
  • $18.2 million is available from the Congestion Mitigation / Air Quality (CMAQ) program. The RTCC will allocate the transit portion of these funds.
  • The largest amount is $77 million from the Surface Transportation Program (STP).  This money is programmed by the Missouri and Kansas STP committees, and is typically used for road and bridge projects, even though transit is an eligible use.  Last year was an exception when $16 million of STP money was allocated to purchase four streetcars for the Kansas City Downtown Streetcar project.

What’s new this time?

With staff of MARC and the four transit operators working together, RTCC has created a list of eleven projects to submit for funding.  Such a large group of transit projects has never been submitted for STP and CMAQ funding before, but with the transit operators working closely together and influential regional public officials involved, the projects will carry more weight than when transit operators submitted projects independently.

See the complete list of projects identified by RTCC.  RTCC_Priorities_List_March_2014  These projects will be submitted to MARC, evaluated and “scored” by MARC staff, and then forwarded to the appropriate programming committees. TAN appreciates the extended list of well-thought-out transit projects and supports them being funded.

TWO: Paratransit: If there is one transit issue in the region that especially needs coordination, it is Paratransit.  [Note: Strictly speaking, “paratransit” isn’t just for the disabled.  Think of it as specialized or flexible transit service for people who can’t get to a bus stop, or who have other special transportation needs.]  People with disabilities have to deal with an extremely difficult and complicated set of eligibility rules along with restricted transit options to get around the region. Many parts of the region don’t have any public transit options for the disabled. Each transit system operates independently and differently.

Special-needs riders need a coordinated, easy to use system to get the transportation they need. Barriers to paratransit need to be eliminated to make this type of transit more functional.

RTCC Co-Chair Robbie Makinen, who is also Chairman of the KCATA Board of Commissioners, lost his eyesight last year and has become largely dependent on paratransit.  As a long-term transit advocate, Makinen has always been concerned with this issue, but now as a user, he really understands and suffers from the dysfunctional nature of the state of regional paratransit. Makinen is championing the effort to coordinate the regions fragmented paratransit services.

Jameson Auten, the head of KCATA’s “Share-A-Fare” paratransit program, and Tyler Means, transit planner at MARC, put this presentation together to describe the paratransit service offered by the four transit agencies: KCATA, The JO, Inde Bus and UGT.  In his presentation, Auten pointed out the different hours of operations, eligibility requirements, reservation hours, and fares. RTCC Paratransit Coordination

One of the biggest issues for paratransit in the region is the lack of paratransit services in Johnson County.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Although Johnson County Transit has provided bus service for over 30 years, it does not have any Complementary ADA Service:  i.e., no paratransit service that “complements” their regular transit routes. Their bus service is configured as commuter routes, which means they don’t have to comply with this part of the Americans With Disabilities Act The special transportation service they do provide, called Special Edition, is not available to anyone living outside of Johnson County. People with disabilities living outside of Johnson County but wishing to travel to Johnson County — even for medical appointments or other serious purposes — are denied access. In Johnson County there is already such a big backlog of residents needing this type service that they cut off eligibility each year and there is a waiting list.

RTCC understands that tackling this issue is a long-term project. Although the most recent meeting focused on paratransit services supplied by the four major transit agencies, everyone acknowledged that there are a large number of additional organizations supplying transit to the disabled. In order to supply enough transit to the growing number of people in need, they hope that every provider will be involved in this coordination effort.  As RTCC Co-Chair Mayor McConwell put it, “ there are 10,000 people a day in the US turning 65. We can’t wait another 20 years before addressing this issue.”

In addition to these two very important issues, RTCC is still working on their initial list of “Quick Wins.” Currently a Regional Fare Study is underway, and we expect to get results on that in early summer.

The next Transit Stakeholders Forum is scheduled for March 27, 5:00 to 6:30 pm, at the Kauffman Foundation.  Please help spread the word about this meeting, especially to riders. This Forum is designed to work in conjunction with the RTCC. The previous meeting was December 17. The March forum will focus on creation of a regional “co-branding” strategy for the Kansas City region’s transit system.

The next RTCC meeting is May 14 at 1:30 pm at MARC.


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New Transit Coordinating Council Off To a Good Start

Posted by Transit Action Network on November 15, 2013

marclogoTransit Action Network is very pleased with the initial efforts of the new regional Transit Coordinating Council (TCC), which is co-chaired by Robbie Makinen of Jackson County and Chairman of the KCATA Board, and the mayor of Mission KS and MARC board member, Laura McConwell.

Robbie Makinen of Jackson County and Chairman of the KCATA Board, and the mayor of Mission KS and MARC board member, Laura McConwell

Robbie Makinen of Jackson County and Chairman of the KCATA Board, and the mayor of Mission KS and MARC board member, Laura McConwell

The new council partially replaces the MARC Transit Committee. The Council consists of local policy officials, and transit and planning professionals.

METRO ogoThe Council has had two meetings, Sept 4th and Nov 6th.

The fractured nature of the region’s transit is well-known so this council is very welcome. It was heartening for transit advocates to hear major regional players actively engaged and enthusiastic about improving transit.

One of the major actions taken by the Council was the establishment of the Transit Stakeholder Forum (TSF). This new forum is an adjunct to the TCC and together the two committees replace the previous MARC Transit Committee. TSF will be an open public meeting and transit riders, potential riders and advocates can comment and provide input on the projects the TCC is working on as well as make additional suggestions. MARC is expected to announce the date of the first meeting soon.

At its first meeting the Transit Coordinating Council developed a set of six priorities, “quick wins”,

At the second meeting they discussed progress on these items.

1. Regional Pass and Fare Reciprocity

First TCC meeting Sept 4, 2103

First TCC meeting Sept 4, 2103

  • Near term implementation of the The JO monthly pass as a defacto regional pass. The JO monthly pass would be accepted on all regional routes, except the premium express buses. This extends The JO monthly pass reciprocity to Unified Government Transit and IndeBus. The JO monthly pass is already accepted on the Metro. This pass costs $75.60. This change is an important step toward regional pass reciprocity but we doubt if it will affect many riders.
  • There was no discussion about The JO accepting the Metro monthly pass with a $1 up-charge as was mentioned in the draft report. We hope this change can be implemented soon but it is still awaiting approval. This change would have the largest impact on riders since people with Metro monthly passes could reduce the current cost of using The JO.
  • An effort to solve the long-term fare reciprocity issue is being addressed with a regional fare study.  The goal is to make fares consistence and improve fare recovery ratios. KCATA fares bring in about 15% of the cost, but the other agencies recovery ratios are lower. They plan to develop a “fare elasticity model” in order to make better decisions about the best time and amount to raise fares. This model helps to project the net impact on revenue since a fare increase usually causes a decrease in ridership.  Expect completion of the study early in 2014.

2. Regional Transit Call Center

  • Work is being done to get IndeBus schedules integrated into the Regional Call Center  (RCC) database so Independence can use the system. Independence still has to decide to fund the additional cost of using the RCC. IndeBus is the only agency not currently using the RCC.
  • The long-term plan is to integrate all the different regional paratrasnit services so they can use the RCC.
  • MoDOT’s 511 call function will be updated to provide a simple way to reach the RCC operator.

3. Regional Trip Planning and General Transit Feed Specification (Google Transit Feed)

TCC meeting Nov 6

TCC meeting Nov 6

  • Independence is in the process of reconfiguring its transit data to work with the industry standard, Google Transit. IndeBus is the only provider not on this system. This change will make the whole system available for regional trip planning using Google’s Trip Planner.

4. Regional Route Map and Regional Transit Service Website

  • MARC has developed a dynamic online service map.  It was made available online on Nov 6th You can drill down to see the routes and link to the appropriate website. All of the regional routes are on the map. This capability is really exciting. It will be available on the transit agencies websites in the near future.
  • A printed regional map is planned in 2014.

5. Regional Transit Branding

  • A request for proposals was released on Nov. 6th to get bids for a designer to develop a coordinated regional transit brand to use as an umbrella image for all regional services. They plan to select a consultant Fall 2013
  • Branding and website development, material, marketing etc. should take place in 2014.

6. Passenger Amenity Standards

  • KCATA is developing standard passenger amenity thresholds for deploying various passenger amenities based on the number of passenger boardings at a stop.
  • Guidelines will be circulated and a technical team will review, finalize and forward for approvals as necessary. Target date 2014

TCC also accepted a workplan for 2014, which includes the items already mentioned as well as:

  • Develop regional transit performance measures and informational reports
  • Support the coordination of local study efforts
  • Initiate coordination of local paratransit services and related customer information
  • Assess and identify the best use of federal transportation funding.

The 2013 workplan requires $45 thousand for regional branding. The 2014 workplan estimates $110 thousand for the regional website/brand deployment and the Fare study. All of these budget items have been covered by local contributions.

TCC will be responsible for programming approximately $1.8 million annually of Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) funds for FY 2015, 2016 and maybe 2017.  Additional projects may be considered from this funding source.

In addition, STP (Surface Transportation Projects) funds of $35 million, which are programmed by another committee, will be asking for projects soon. Traditionally transit projects have had a hard time getting a share of STP funds. The streetcar was successful but that isn’t the norm. TCC decided that a larger coordinated regional project would have a better chance of receiving STP funding than smaller individual transit projects submitted separately by the transit agencies or individual jurisdictions. The committee scheduled a special meeting to Tuesday, December 3 at 9 am at MARC in order to be proactive about creating a regional application.

TCC is still working to define itself and understand its role in the region. Another function we believe the TCC should embrace is being consulted on all transit issues of regional significance. TCC needs to make itself heard and exert its presence and importance as it goes forward. For instance, recently KCMO approved Cerner’s Bannister and I-435 project, including huge incentives, but with NO requirements relating to public transit in Ordinance 130768. Cerner plans to have 15,000 employees at this location. This project is of regional significance and deserves a regional transportation impact analysis, including consultation with TCC regarding the potential for improving transit service both to the project site and throughout the I-435/I-470 corridor.

The Council plans to alternate venues between MARC and KCATA. The Council is set up to meet on a bi-monthly basis. In the off months, transit staff and MARC staff will work on the Council’s priorities.

The TCC meetings are open to the public and there is a public comment period at the end of the meeting.

TAN is very pleased with the progress and direction of the new council. We expect it to exert a positive coordinating influence on transit in our region.

MARC’s TCC presentation presented earlier this year at the  MARC Transit Committee. Presentation_RegionalTransitCoordinatingCouncilConcept011513

MARC’s website link  Transit Coordinating Council

TCC members TCC Members_092013

TAN is very engaged in seamless transit and achieving it is one of our main missions.  When Co-chair Makinen asked for our input last August we submitted a list of twelve items to him and Tom Gerend, Assistant Director of Transportation at MARC, to consider for inclusion in the TCC workplan. We are pleased that we are all on the same page about seamless transit and so many of our initial issues are being addressed.

TAN Recommendations for TCC agenda

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Denver Commercial Development Booms Around Transit Stops

Posted by Transit Action Network on October 9, 2013

The new commuter rail "Canopy" at Denver's historic Union Station. The old station building is at the top of the photograph connected to the rail terminal by the portico shown; and to buses and light rail by facilities below the rail level.

The new commuter rail “Canopy” at Denver’s historic Union Station. The old station building is at the top of the photograph connected to the rail terminal by the portico shown; and to buses and light rail by facilities below the rail level.

The Regional Transit Alliance series on Transit and Economic Development recently had a luncheon talk by Phillip A. Washington, General Manager of Denver’s Regional Transit District (RTD).  Mr. Washington testified to the ability of transit to concentrate development around transit stations. The RTD is an active partner in development, with a Manager of Development and a staff of five people.

Rendering of Denver Union Station showing new streets, pedestrian mall and underground bus-way. Note development on either side of street/pedestrian mall. Subterranean walkway, surface streets and pedestrian mall connect to light rail stop.

Rendering of Denver Union Station showing new streets, pedestrian mall and underground bus-way. Note development on either side of street/pedestrian mall. Subterranean walkway, surface streets and pedestrian mall connect to light rail stop.

As readers of this blog are probably aware, Denver already had a large transit network, both rail and bus, and is now in the midst of a $4.7 billion transit improvement project called “Fastracks“. The program includes light rail, commuter rail, BRT, and a radical re-purposing of the old Denver Union Station as a multimodal hub.

The Union Station part of the project alone will cost about $500 million and utilizes some nine different funding sources including six different Federal sources. The light rail facility is located a few blocks from the commuter rail and bus facility. The distance between the two is spanned by a wide pedestrian mall which was part of approximately 50 acres of vacant land (former rail yards) surrounding the station. See an artist’s rendering of the completed mall.

Land not used for transit facilities is being developed by a partnership of Union Station Neighborhood Corporation, two private development companies in the Denver area, the RTD, and the City of Denver. The next photograph shows the new Union Station Light Rail facility and some recent development around Union Station.

With 50 acres of downtown real estate, two of the most experienced developers in Denver as partners, and RTD’s own staff focused on development, one is not surprised that Mr. Washington is bullish on development around transit stations. One might add, “And how!”.

New Union Station light rail facility on first day of operations of the "West Line" light rail. Note new mixed use development in background.

New Union Station light rail facility on first day of operations of the “West Line” light rail. Note new mixed use development in background.

The photograph also shows the opening day of the West Line or “W Line”, light rail line. Opened in April, 2013, it was the first part of the FasTracks project completed. Running 12.1 miles between Denver Union Station and Golden, Colorado, at a cost of $709 million; the line is estimated to carry 18,000 riders per day. In fact, ridership was about 14,000 in the initial months, without the benefit of college students commuting to colleges along the route.

Eighteen thousand riders per day sounds staggering to anyone familiar with ridership estimates for Kansas City area transit projects over the years. For example, the Ridership Comparison chart shows Denver’s West Line compared with two current Kansas City area projects. (Ridership for the I-70 commuter rail is the average ridership projected from the two models used for the 3rd and Grand terminus in the Jackson County Commuter Corridors Alternatives Analysis (JCCC AA))

Click To Enlarge

Click To Enlarge

These projects are not strictly comparable as they include different modes, serve different sorts of neighborhoods, and Denver’s ‘W Line’ is integrated into an existing rail transit network. Be that as it may, Kansas City projects generally continue to show low estimated ridership numbers compared with projects elsewhere – a consequence of our history of well designed boulevards and extensive interstate system.

Low estimated ridership for rail proposals also causes cost-per-rider to be high. This measure of cost effectiveness, used by the Federal Transit Administration, often inhibits the Kansas City area’s ability to attract Federal Funds.

Note however, as the  Annual Capital Cost per Rider chart indicates, that the downtown streetcar, which recently received a Federal TIGER grant, has a lower cost per rider than Denver’s West Line. This is due to both lower construction cost per mile and relatively strong ridership for the short 2 mile distance.

By contrast, the proposed Jackson County commuter rail project has a very high cost per rider due to very low estimated ridership, even though the capital cost, at $385 million (average of estimated range from the JCCC AA), is much lower than Denver’s West Line.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

While it is a good measure of system efficiency, ridership is not the only factor relevant to evaluating a transit project’s success. Commercial development and indirect job creation are other important parameters, as Mr. Washington pointed out.

One of the lessons to be drawn from his talk, albeit indirectly, is that development around transit stations doesn’t just happen, It requires the transit agency and units of local government to be proactive, and partner with experienced developers from the private sector to make projects happen. Surely it also helps if you have fifty acres of undeveloped property adjacent to the city center that happens to also be next to one of your stations.

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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

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Save The JO – Transit Advocates Speak Up At The JoCo Public Budget Hearing

Posted by Transit Action Network on July 26, 2012

The Johnson County Board of County Commissioners probably got a surprise at the Public Budget Hearing Monday night. Nine of the eleven people who testified at the hearing did so because of the transit budget and proposed plans to eliminate or reduce 90% of The JO routes in 2013.  Unfortunately for transit riders, participation was very difficult since the Johnson County Administration Building is hard to get to on transit and it is impossible to use transit to get home afterwards.

Jonothan Walker, President, ATU Local 1287

The Commissioners heard a wide range of perspectives and concerns but they all agreed on one point – find the money to keep The JO running.  Speakers were concerned about job losses, the environment, the elderly and disabled, social equity issues, the potential of losing the young professional class of workers, the County’s failure to honor its commitment to replace federal CMAQ funds and much more. Two of the testimonies are posted on our Save the Jo Facebook event page. The whole budget hearing is posted on the county website The individual testimonies start after the County Managers presentation at the 19 minute mark. The County Manager makes it very clear that Johnson County has the lowest mill levy in Kansas. Not having money for transit and other services in Johnson County is a self-imposed austerity. According to the County Manager, Johnson Countians pay an average of .58 percent of their household income on county taxes.

Martin Rivarola, City of Mission

The operating cost for the current 20 routes is $5.7 million* with only $2 million coming from the county and the County Commission is currently saying they can’t afford any more than that. Of course, not all of the Commissioners agree. The JO riders pay over $1.1 million of the service. Of course that number will go down if nine routes are eliminated. The rest, $2.6 million, is federal and state money. Much of this large subsidy is going to disappear over the next two years but currently the Commission doesn’t plan to replace it. Normally the bulk of transit operating expenses has to come from local sources.

Rev. Bobby Love, MORE2

A lot of the federal money is related to federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) funds used as seed money to start the CONNEX routes. The federal government doesn’t normally pay operating expenses. After three years the CMAQ money is finished and the money has to be replaced locally to keep the routes.

The Commission understands it commitment to replace the CMAQ funds for new routes with additional money. In previous administrations the Commission has been fiscally responsible and provided those new funds. This time the Commission is keeping the CONNEX routes and spending $10.7 million of additional federal money for major infrastructure improvements for this service through a TIGER grant, but they aren’t adding the new operating money. We don’t think that is a fiscally responsible decision. If the Commission wasn’t going to provide the operating cost for the CONNEX routes, they shouldn’t have started the routes and applied for the TIGER grant.  As a result, it appears that many routes must be eliminated or reduced to make up the difference. The CONNEX is potentially a great new service but the County needs to pay for it without dismantling The JO.

Joe Walker, Pastor Westwood Christian Church

Carol Guenther, JO bus rider

JO ridership is growing by 12%. While an increasing number of county residents are opting for public transportation, Johnson County Commissioners are dismantling what little transit is left. While the one-occupant car may be the current transportation mode of choice, you don’t need to look out very far to see fuel supply constraints, worse traffic congestion and more air pollution – none of which enhances the view of Johnson County as a quiet refuge for those seeking tree-lined streets, responsive government and effective planning.

For perspective on the county’s funding commitment to transit, the Kansas City, MO contract with KCATA this year is over $46 million. The residents of KCMO have a 7/8-cent sales tax to provide transit. JoCo residents pay extremely little in property tax to get the JO.

Johnson County prides itself on education, infrastructure and services but if you want transit you have to pay for it. Johnson County deserves a real transit system that stands a chance of winning people out of their cars. Tomorrow, we’ll post a video about a real solution for a comprehensive county-wide transit system. A plan already exists that was created just for Johnson County by Johnson County residents.

Jim Courtney, Executive Director, Mr. Goodscents Foundation

Janet Rogers, Transit Action Network

Sheila Styron, Public Policy Coordinator, The Whole Person

Ron McLinden, JO bus rider, Transit Action Network

The deadline for public comment is July 30, 2012. Please speak up for transit.

Contact Johnson County Board of County Commissioners

  1. 1.    Phone: 913-715-0430
  2. 2.    Email contact form:

Contact Johnson County Transit

  1. E-mail:
  2. Mail: Johnson County Transit, 1701 West 56 Highway, Olathe, Kansas 66061
  3. Phone: 913-715-8255 – record your message

*Figures are based on the Johnson County Transportation Council meeting packet for April 2012.

Powerpoint presentation JO Proposed Eliminations and Reductions – Public Meeting 7-11-12

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Mayoral Streetcar Governance Committee Holds First Meeting

Posted by Transit Action Network on May 30, 2012

Transit Action Network attended the first meeting of the Mayoral Streetcar Governance Committee today. The purpose of the committee is to create the governance framework for the streetcar system. Given this objective the committee is charged with working through the long-term issues having to do with construction and operation of the streetcar.

The target date for completion of recommendations is July 15th.

A “template” for such a governance structure was presented as a point of departure for discussion.

It conceives of four entities that would be involved in the construction and operation of the system:

        1. The Transportation Development District would collect the tax revenue and distribute it to the city.

        2. The City would own the system and be responsible for construction and for any future capital expenditures.

        3. The “governance authority” would be a “not for profit corporation” that would oversee operation and maintenance of the system, including selecting and contracting with an operator.

        4. The operator would be responsible for the day-to-day operation of the system.

The relationships between the first three entities would be defined by statute and by contract (subject to bond indentures); and would supersede changes in the Mayor’s office, the City Council and the staffs of any single organization.

The composition of the Mayoral Streetcar Governance Committee is as follows:

Non-voting Chair: Warren Erdman

Unaffiliated Owners of Commercial Property: Jon Copaken, Jane Chu, Mike Hagedorn, Tom McGee, Suzie Aron

Unaffiliated Owners of Residential Property: Tom Trabon, Dana Gibson

Owner/Occupant of Residential Property: David Johnson

Council members:  Russ Johnson, Jim Glover, Jan Marcason

Representative of the Mayor’s Office: John McGurk

Kansas City’s Chief Financial Officer: Randy Landes

City Director of Public Works: Sherri McIntyre

At the next meeting Members will hear an overview of peer streetcar systems governance structures presented by HDR.

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Sanders Commits to Transit

Posted by Transit Action Network on November 3, 2011

County Executive Mike Sanders, in his State of the County Address today, made a strong commitment to regional public transit.

After describing past accomplishments of his administration, Sanders clearly had his eye on the next generation when he closed by talking about transit.

We have decisions to make, he said. It’s time for a new vision to meet the transportation needs of the next generation.

We have a rich tradition of public transit, and Sanders said he is committed to a modern public transit system.

Sanders cited a Brookings report earlier this year — the one that ranked our region 90th of 100 at getting people to jobs by transit — and pointed out that while only some of us ride transit, all of us need it.

Sanders said the region has recently gotten $2 million in federal money to study how to meet transit needs in major commuter corridors, and he is working with regional partners to complete those studies.

Sanders closed with what he called one simple question: What do we want to do for the next generation?

He asked people to join with him on the next journey, building a regional transit system.

In his speech Sanders made no reference to any particular form of transit. That’s appropriate because the requisite studies have not been completed. Nor was there a hard-and-fast target date. That, too, is appropriate because funding is uncertain.

County Executive Mike Sanders made a strong leadership commitment to regional transit, and that is truly significant.

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So Many Alternatives to Evaluate in Jackson County!

Posted by Transit Action Network on October 13, 2011

The Jackson County Commuter Corridors Alternatives Analysis is studying six different alternatives to find the best option to improve transit from Eastern Jackson County into downtown Kansas City.  The commuter corridors under consideration are east along the I-70 corridor to Oak Grove and southeast along the old Rock Island Corridor possibly all the way to Pleasant Hill.

JCCCAA Open House-Independence

The Federal Transit Administration requires the study look at different alternatives to find the best and most cost-effective solution in a corridor. At the first open house the project team presented each alternative with descriptions and maps. They published the JCCCAA_Open_House_Booklet_092711 with these details.

The study is guided by FTA standards and will evaluate and compare the alternatives for mobility improvements, user benefits, operating efficiencies, cost effectiveness, ridership numbers, capital and operating costs, existing transit supportive land-use, and economic development effects. Economic development effects are evaluated based on transit supportive plans and policies and the actual performance of the land use policies as well as the potential impact of the project on regional land use.  Transit supportive plans and policies include factors such as growth management, transit supportive corridor policies, supportive zoning regulations near stations and tools to implement land use policies.

Here are the basic alternatives under consideration. The streetcar/light rail description in the booklet of the Alternative 5 eastern corridor is incorrect. It is a spur into Independence. The map is correct.

Alternative 1 is the baseline alternative for comparison. This is a  “No Build” scenario with minimum investment.

Display board for one of the alternatives

Alternative 2 is Transportation System Management to improve operating efficiency of current systems without adding capacity on the highways or making major capital improvements to the transit system. This could include improvements to the Scout System, improvements to the transit system already identified in the KCATA Comprehensive Service  Analysis, and expansion of Transportation Demand Management/ridesharing programs. TAN feels that many of these ideas should be implemented regardless of the other outcomes in the study since they can be done in the near term with relatively small financial outlays and noticeable improvements to the management of the corridors for all transportation modes, including cars.

Independence Mayor Reimal

Alternative 3 is an Enhanced Express Bus to Oak Grove and Pleasant Hill via the current highway system. There is the possibility of using Bus on Shoulder on I-70 between I-470 and the Kansas City Central Business District sometime in the future.

Alternatives 4 and 5 basically build on Alternative 3 by adding Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) on US 40 and the Rock Island corridor, then adding a streetcar/light rail line from Crown Center that has two spurs, one to Independence and one to Raytown.  In these versions, the southeastern corridor uses the Rock Island corridor as a fixed guideway for the Enhanced Express Bus as well as the BRT.

One of the alternatives 3, 4 or 5 may be the preferred alternative if Regional Rapid Rail isn’t competitive in the analysis.

Alternative 6 is the Regional Rapid Rail system. There are three variations to the route provided, but the Truman Road route has been discussed the most. This system uses underutilized rail in the suburbs but requires new rail in multiple sections including the last seven miles into downtown. The eastern corridor uses the KC Southern line to Noland Road then requires new rail to cut over to the Truman Sports Complex. The southeastern corridor uses the old Rock Island line to just west of the Truman Sports Complex at US40. The Rock Island Corridor has not been used for almost 40 years, so it will be interesting to find out how much renovation is needed to return the line to safe operating condition.

Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders

Study participants from Parsons Brinckerhoff, Shockey Consulting and MARC

Both lines converge just east of the sports complex. There is discussion of a station south of the Chiefs south parking lot, what is currently the wooded area past entrance 3 to the Chiefs parking lot. A train viaduct can be seen as it crosses Blue Ridge Cuttoff just north of Raytown Road.

The two routes use a Common Line into downtown.  The last seven miles of the Common Line, after Leeds Junction by US 40, is on new tracks and often runs on city streets. According to the MARC corridor study in 2010, anytime the DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit) vehicle travels on the streets it will have a maximum speed of 25 mph.  It goes north in the vicinity of 18th and Topping to Truman Road west of Jackson Avenue, and travels on Truman Road at a maximum speed of 25 mph. It turns south on Cherry to 20th where it turns west to arrive north of Union Station in the Freight House district close to Jack Stack Bar-B-Que.  This area is on the old KC Star storage track.  TAN still has many outstanding concerns about this alternative as expressed in an earlier article related to last year’s corridor study.

There are two other versions of this alternative. One has the eastern route stay on the KCS line until 23rd street and skips the Sports Complex. The 23rd street route runs down the center of the street at a maximum speed of 25 mph and connects with the Common Line at I-435. The other variation has both routes connecting at the Sports Complex, and traveling along the Common Line but cross Truman Road and follows the Kansas City Terminal and then the “trench embankment” into the Freight House district north of Union Station.

TAN is waiting on the project team to provide more details about the routes as they proceed in the study. Some sections of the routes are still vague, but that is normal since the study just started and the team needs time to find the best options.

The project team held three open house sessions the last week of September, Independence, Raytown and Union Station, to explain and discuss the “Purpose and Needs” statement for the project and show the public the proposed alternatives. There was an excellent turnout. Three additional public meetings are planned in November 2011, January 2012 and March 2012.  Visit the study’s website for more information.

Project Leader Shawn Dikes

In Independence, Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders spoke about the need to plan ahead for future transit needs. He also made the point that even if you personally don’t use transit many of the people you interact with do, so you still need transit. Parsons Brinckerhoff Project Manager Shawn Dikes had a PowerPoint presentation to explain the study. See his presentation JCCCAA-Open-House-Presentation-Sept2011

This study is costing $1.2 million. MARC plans to add the study for the US71/Grandview corridor to this study. Jackson County has already received $652,200 to do that study plus MARC has applied for another $1.2 million for the US71 corridor and hopes all these studies can be combined.

TAN feels very strongly that the region needs to implement the best alternative from this study, whether it is Enhanced Express Bus, BRT, Streetcar/Light Rail, Regional Rapid Rail  or a combination.  If we are going to spend this amount of money on studies then it is our responsibility, to the best of our ability, to implement the recommendations that come out of them.

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Commuter Corridors Advisory Group Has First Meeting

Posted by Transit Action Network on September 8, 2011

The first meeting of the Jackson County Commuter Corridor Alternatives Analysis Stakeholder Advisory Panel was held on August 31. Project manager Shawn Dikes of Parsons Brinckerhoff said the study team is “starting from scratch,” and that they are not here to validate some pre-determined solution.  TAN advocates Janet Rogers and Mark McDowell are on the panel.

The study team offered a wider range of options than a lot of people expected: several bus alternatives; streetcar or light rail on a couple of alignments; and several “commuter rail” alignments that had not previously been seen in public. Dikes admitted, however, that they chose to eliminate such options as subways, monorails, and gondolas.  (That got a laugh.)

By consensus the group eliminated a commuter rail route that would terminate at the north edge of the river market.

Dikes reminded the panel that FTA funding for rail projects that are doing well in an AA are currently receiving a maximum of 50 % of the capital costs to build the system. Asking for less money increases a project’s chances of being federally funded.

Whether a suitable so-called “common line” can be found westward from near the sports complex into downtown Kansas City may turn out to be the critical question for commuter rail. At the meeting, TAN expressed concern that one of the routes would go through a disadvantaged community in the vicinity of 18th and Topping. Project work has to comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Disadvantaged communities affected by the project have to be included in the planning process and the project cannot adversely affect the community. Lawsuits have been field against rail projects in other cities related to this issue.  MARC is already discussing these issues with community leaders.

Dikes said that the FTA would not fund rail that hurts bus service.  The rail service in this study would likely differ enough from express bus routes, that the express buses could not be eliminated in order to help pay for rail.

Transit Action Network posted some concerns a couple of weeks ago about the commuter rail concept as developed in last year’s corridor study:

The consultant team has drafted a “Purpose and Need” statement and is currently developing an executive summary.

According to the FTA: “(A) study “purpose and need” establishes the problems that must be addressed in the analysis; serves as the basis for the development of project goals, objectives, and evaluation measures; and provides a framework for determining which alternatives should be considered as reasonable options in a given corridor. … This information provides the context for performing the analysis and for identifying the measures against which alternatives strategies will be evaluated. It also serves as an introduction for decision makers, stakeholders, and the general public to the study area and its transportation problems and needs.”

The FTA goes on to say that “the purpose and need statement serves as the cornerstone for the alternatives analysis.” The statement should not point to one solution, but be as concise as possible, focusing on the primary transportation issues addressed in the alternatives analysis.

The first public meeting on the alternatives analysis will be from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. on September 27, 2011 at the Ennovation Center, 201 N. Forest Avenue, Independence, Mo. The focus of the meeting will be on the purpose and need for the project and the range of alternatives being considered. Four public meetings are planned. Details will follow as they become available.

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MARC Transit Committee Meeting 5/4/11

Posted by Transit Action Network on May 16, 2011

MARC Transit Committee Meeting 5/4/11

1. Tom Gerend, MARC Assistant Director of Transportation, gave a short update on the Downtown Corridor (Streetcar) Alternatives Analysis.

Tom clarified the report in the KC Star about the line costing $25 million per mile.  It is important to distinguish between single and double tracked routes.

  • This $25 million cost is more relevant to single track routes, like a loop.
  • This study is looking at tracks running in both directions, double tracked.  The route may be 2 miles long but there are 4 miles of track.
  • The cost per track mile will vary greatly depending on whether the track bed is built to a streetcar or a light rail standard.
  • All of these options are going to be studied.
  • NOTE: A previous streetcar presentation at the Transit Committee by a different consultant estimated the cost of a streetcar with double tracks and built to light rail standards at $40 million per route mile, an estimate of $80 million for a two-mile route with these characteristics.

2. Mark Swope, Olsson Associates, gave an update of the Smart Moves Implementation Phase III Study.

  • This study brings together the Phase I Urban Corridors Bus Rapid Transit study, Phase II Commuter Corridors/Commuter Rail Study and Local Services, including paratransit. The regional plan will detail preferred service strategies and include a corresponding financial analysis including developing financial funding scenarios.
  • Mark presented information breaking down both operating and capital costs by county through 2020 using the transit scenarios from the previous studies.

3. After the main meeting the Seamless Transit Workgroup met to continue discussions related to making transit work more easily for riders.

  • KCATA and JCT have been working together to post additional JCT schedule information.
  • KCATA and JCT are discussing the possibility of a reciprocity agreement to allow riders to use monthly passes on either service.
  • JCT is working on improvements to “basic passenger infrastructure” at bus stops, including improved signs, route and schedule information, and concrete pads to connect sidewalks to the street. Bus stops with a higher level of service would get additional amenities.
  • In the discussion regarding real-time information through mobile devices, the transit providers explained that they use different technologies to communicate with riders. In the near term, any real-time information will be provided separately.

Next meeting June 1


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KCATA Board of Commissioners Meeting 4/27/11

Posted by Transit Action Network on May 5, 2011

1. During public comment, Ron McLinden, Transit Action Network, asked the board to initiate a unilateral 90-day trial period in which KCATA honors Johnson County Transit monthly passes on Main Street MAX buses.  A limited trial could be implemented at little or no cost, and would be an important symbolic step toward improving the region’s transit system by making transit a more viable option for more people.  The Board agreed to consider the request.

2.The board authorized a contract to purchase eight 2011 Dodge Caravan passenger vans for use in the KCATA”s AdVantage Vanpool Program. The eight vehicles in the current fleet of 33 vehicles have exceeded their 100,000-mile and four-year useful life. The AdVantage Vanpool Program is available to commuters who either reside or work in a community supporting the KCATA through service agreements, and who do not have access to existing public transit services for their commute trip.

View the program

(Unfortunately, the money is for replacement vans only. No additional vans are being added to the vanpool although there is a waiting list and we are in a period of high demand due to high gas prices. This program is great for groups of 6 or more people who want to ride together to work and other forms of public transit are not available: example-people who live in Lee’s Summit but work close to the airport)

3. The Board of Commissioners authorized a cooperative agreement for a KU Medical Center Area Transit Study toward the goal of improving transit service for those working in and around the medical center and improving connections between current transit routes.

The study arose from discussions between Mayor Reardon of Kansas City, Kansas, and Mayor Foster of Roeland Park about improving transit service for those working in and around the medical center and improving connections between current transit routes.

KCATA, MARC, Johnson County Transit, the City of Roeland Park, and the Unified Government have jointly developed a scope for a consultant to analyze options to improve transit services to KU Medical Center for nearby residents, employees, and visitors and to improve transit connections.

HNTB has been selected to conduct the study under their on-call services contract with KCATA, at an estimated cost of $72,500. The study is to be completed this fall. Federal planning funds will be used for 80% of the cost with remaining local funds to be provided by the Unified Government, Johnson County Transit, the City of Roeland Park, and KCATA.

4. The Board of Commissioners authorized a service contract with the City of Kansas City, Missouri, from May 1, 2011, to April 30, 2012, with a City contribution of $43.1 million.

From the 1/2 cent sales tax the contract includes $19.9 million for Metro, $1.9 million for Share-A- Fare and $40.2 thousand to fund specialized services for reverse-commute job transportation. There is $21.3 million from the 3/8-cent sales tax for public transportation.

This contract is an increase of 6.2% over last years contract. Part of that increase is due to the ordinance passed in December 2010 to restore funding to public transit and part is due to higher sales tax revenues.

Keep in mind that this contract is still less than the 2004/2005 Kansas City contract.

Share-A-Fare Price Increases 2011

5.Bryan Beck, KCATA’s Director of ADA Compliance and Customer Service, provided an update on the fare increase from $2.50 to $3 per ADA eligible ride for the Share-A-Fare program, including the results of two public meetings and additional public input.  He presented general information and a service review of the Share-A-Fare program. See the full presentation- SAF Update 

6. Cindy Baker, KCATA Director of Marketing,  made a presentation on the State Avenue corridor project, funded by TIGER grants. It is in the design phase and the design team will soon be meeting with Advisory Council, stakeholders, and the general public. One component of this phase is the branding that will go hand in hand with design and then implementation. This project includes transit infrastructure improvements that could serve as a precursor to a future MAX line.

Johnson County Transit is in a similar situation with their Shawnee Mission Parkway/Metcalf route, also a TIGER-funded improved-transit corridor, but not full BRT service.

The JO has been working with consultants and the public to brand their new line. They have opted to call it “The JO Connex”. KCATA, Unified Government, and Johnson County Transit are all amenable to developing a regional brand, called “Connex,” that would represent a family of routes that include enhanced transit amenities, but do not increase service levels to MAX standards.

Next meeting May 25, 2011.

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Streetcar Presentation at Downtown Neighborhood Association

Posted by Transit Action Network on April 29, 2011

Sherri McIntyre, KCMO Assistant City Manager. addresses DNA

Sherri McIntyre, KCMO Assistant City Manager, and Mark McDowell, Transit Action Network, both addressed the Downtown Neighborhood Association Wednesday evening regarding the Downtown Corridor (Streetcar) Study. Sherri talked about the nature of the study, how the study would progress, its time frame and how positive the city is about implementing a modern streetcar line downtown. Mark McDowell then focused on different financing issues and how a Transportation Development District (TDD) is a possible funding mechanism. The Missouri legislation for a TDD will be a strong contender for funding all or part of a streetcar line for both capital and operating expenses.

Mark McDowell addresses DNA

Since the study is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year, it is not too early to start grassroots organizing. Transit Action Network asks Downtown residents, as well as residents in the River Market and Crossroads, to take part in a group to make the streetcar happen and to participate in an eventual campaign to pass whatever funding mechanism is ultimately proposed.   Downtown residents can contact TAN at to find out more.

The Kansas City Star (April 29) carried a front-page article by Mike Mansur about the meeting.

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Report on National Transportation Conference. Transit-An Endangered Species?

Posted by Transit Action Network on April 12, 2011

A rainy day on Capitol Hill-April 5, 2011

Last week, April 3-5, I participated in a transit conference sponsored by Transportation Equity Network (TEN) in Washington DC. I went with MORE2, a local member of TEN.

The Conference, called ONE NATION INDIVISIBLE, had 135 representatives from TEN organizations representing 18 states.

Visiting  the Hill to speak with the Washington staffers from our local delegation offered a wonderful opportunity. There is so much potential for new infrastructure, new jobs and making our country a better, more exciting place to live. However, at the end of the day, it looks like we will struggle to maintain what we currently have.

The federal gas tax of 18.4¢ per gallon, which pays for roads and transit through the Highway Trust Fund, hasn’t covered the federal transportation costs for quite a while. The last Transportation Bill expired in 2009. Congress has continued to fund the old bill by subsidizing the gas tax from federal general revenue until a new bill is passed. That is about to change.

Congress is refusing to increase the gas tax to pay for transportation, yet no alternative funding mechanism is getting any traction. We aren’t paying enough to take care of the roads we already have, let alone build new ones. Transit only gets 20% of the money allocated to the transportation budget so the outlook isn’t bright.

There were workshops and transportation speeches from the Deputy Secretary of Transportation, John Porcari, and the Federal Transit Administrator, Peter Rogoff. Then I visited with staffers from the Appropriations Committee and Representatives Yoder R-KS, Graves R- MO, and Cleaver D-MO. I really enjoyed the conference but I left feeling depressed.

Peter Rogoff, Federal Transit Administrator, addresses the TEN conference

John Porcari, Deputy Secretary of Transportation, address the TEN conference

Severe cuts to all transportation are being proposed in the House budget for the remainder of FY2011. While I was there the shutdown of the government was looming.  People at home aren’t expressing outrage about these cuts so the cutters are empowered and we were told we haven’t seen anything yet. Wait until we see the trillion dollar budget cuts being planned for 2012.

Although Congress reached an agreement Friday night, details are still being worked out by staffers. We were told high-speed rail is gone in this budget.

If we can’t keep these programs alive, what is going to happen when Congress gets around to reauthorizing the Transportation Bill?

My overriding concern at the end of the day was how much transportation would be cut. The federal budget is only an authorization to spend. It doesn’t provide any money. There is no intention of increasing the gas tax (Rep. Graves staff repeatedly expressed the position that the Congressman was adamant about not raising the gas tax) yet there is no meaningful discussion or progress toward finding an alternative funding mechanism. Don’t count on the continued transfer from general revenue to make up the difference.

Karl, Keith, Kirk and Mary visiting Representative Yoder's office - not pictured Councilman-elect Michael Brooks

Karl, Kirk and Janet visiting Representative Yoder's office

One possibility is funding transportation at the level generated by the current gas tax. That would be a shock for roads and transit. Transit agencies would lose a huge amount of their funding if this is the final decision. Since a lot of the federal money classified as preventive maintenance is used for operating costs, there would be severe service cuts under this scenario.

If you care about transit, call your Congressional representatives and ask them to find a way to fund transit at or above the current level. Tell them why it is important to you! Speak up about finding a method to pay for the infrastructure improvements needed and remind them how important transit is for people to get to work and perform necessary tasks like getting groceries and going to the doctor. If you can, go to their town hall meetings with the same message.

Janet Rogers 4/12/2011

Posted in Action, Meeting Reports, National Transit Issues | 1 Comment »

KCATA Board of Commissioners Meeting 3/23/11

Posted by Transit Action Network on April 10, 2011

1. Michael Graham, Director of Finance, presented financial data for 2010 and key performance statistics. The service reduction and fare increase in 2009 affected 2010 results.





Metro Expense/Mile 

National Average (BUS) 2008





Passenger Boardings per Customer Complaint




Vehicle Accidents/Million Miles




On-time Performance



Miles/Mechanical Failure 

National Average 2008





Scheduled miles operated in 2010 were 9.7 million compared to 10.3 million in 2009.

Passenger revenue for the Metro decreased to $10,933,000 for 2010 which is $276,409, or 2.5% under 2009.  Average weekday ridership for the year decreased 2.3% to 50,007 compared to the previous year’s average of 51,156.

The average ridership for Saturday and Sunday decreased 3.0% and 9.8% respectively.

Total operating expenses for 2010 are $68,941,469, coming in $2,466,032 or 3.5% under budget.

KCATA is starting to see an increase in ridership as gasoline prices are rising.

2 Michael Graham updated the Board on the current fuel market and potential budget impacts. He was assisted by David Zarfoss, the representative from Mansfield Oil.

Diesel fuel prices have increased dramatically over the past month.

KCATA has approximately 50% of the 2011 diesel fuel requirement locked in at an average price of $2.38 per gallon.

The fixed price contracts cover fuel through June and most of July.  The remaining 50% of diesel fuel that is not locked in at fixed prices is budgeted at $2.50 per gallon.  The daily market price on March 10 was $3.21 and rising.

Michael and David discussed the factors affecting diesel prices. Purchasing factors have changed recently.

David commented that although diesel prices are rising, the refineries are in the process of making massive increases to capacity, which should calm the market and help bring the prices down.

Since KCATA has fixed price contracts though part of July it is not purchasing new contracts at these prices but is waiting to see what happens. KCATA has plans for a fuel surcharge of 25¢ when their diesel prices exceed $3.

The next meeting is April 27.

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KCATA Board of Commissioners meeting 1/26/11

Posted by Transit Action Network on February 11, 2011

1. Kansas City has released the Preliminary Budget for Fiscal Year 2011-12.

KCATA budget from the ½ cent transportation fund is $1.98 million more than the previous budget. (Note: This is 75% of the revenue after TIF and City administration costs.)  General Manager Mark Huffer reported that he has been told that the city may be able to reach the 95% mark required by the new ordinance as soon as next year, which would be a year earlier than required.

2. The Board of Commissioners authorized a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with MARC, the City of Kansas City, Missouri and Jackson County concerning implementation of the regional Alternatives Analysis (AA) Studies using $1.8 million in federal grant funding.

The MOU allocates the funding as follows:

Corridor Study Federal Funds Local Funds Source of Match
Downtown Streetcar AA $540,000 $135,000 Kansas City, Missouri
Commuter Corridors AA $1,260,000 $315,000 Jackson County

Other key points in the MOU are as follows:

• MARC will serve as FTA grant recipient,

• MARC, KCATA, the City of Kansas City and Jackson County will serve as a partnership team overseeing AA efforts,

• KCATA and the City will lead the downtown streetcar AA, and

• MARC and Jackson County will lead the commuter corridors AA

3. KCATA has $10.4 million in a federal grant for public transit improvements in the State Avenue corridor, which extends from the 10th and Main Street transit center in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, through downtown Kansas City, Kansas, to the Village West area in western Wyandotte County.

Key components of the project include:

• 7th Street and Minnesota Avenue Transit Center

• 47th and State Avenue (Indian Springs) Transit Center/Park & Ride

• State Avenue Corridor Transit & Access Improvements

• State Avenue Corridor Branding

The Board authorized a contract with BHC Rhodes, Inc., for Architectural and Engineering (A&E) Design Services for State Avenue Corridor Transit Improvements.

4. Update on the Comprehensive Service Analysis – Nelson Nygaard

The CSA is an in-depth, technical study of the system’s effectiveness and will result in system-wide and route-level recommendations for improved efficiencies and service delivery.

Mr. Geoff Slater, Project Manager with Nelson Nygaard, provided a project update and discussed the next efforts of the CSA.

Public involvement is scheduled spring or early summer. See the presentation KCATA_CSABoard0111.

5.  Emerick Cross, Interim Transit Manager of Unified Government Transit in Wyandotte County thanked KCATA for its help in the recently completed Comprehensive Service Analysis. See the 2010-UG Transit Comprehensive Service Analysis.

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Mayoral Candidates Transit Forum at Union Station 1/25/2011

Posted by Transit Action Network on January 27, 2011

Transit Action Network will conduct a blog-site transit forum for Kansas City mayoral candidates starting January 31, 2011. We asked the candidates 6 questions and we will post the answers to one question each day for six days. There are three questions specific to Kansas City, two regional questions and one state/federal question.

Following is a report on the transit forum that took place Tuesday.

Mayoral Candidates Transit Forum at Union Station

On January 25th, seven candidates for the Mayor of Kansas City presented their views of public transit in the Metropolitan Area, with a focus on Kansas City. This forum was hosted by the Regional Transit Alliance (RTA) and intended to garner responses to a set of questions directed to each candidate separately. As the morning advanced, some of the earlier topics appeared to fold into more generalized questions and candidate responses became less specific.

Five of the more important topics of interest include (1) current and future status of transit in Kansas City; (2) funding problems and solutions; (3) public/private sector aspects of transit development; (4) the mayor’s role in transit development; and finally (5) the short-term planning for future spikes in gasoline prices and the probable impacts on existing transit service.

Summary of responses to noted questions

In all cases the seven candidates view the current status of transit as less than ideal, some calling it “anemic” and others “inadequate” and nearly all said that transit will be a high priority when elected mayor.  Mayor Funkhouser suggested that transit paled somewhat because his future mission is to drive down the crime rate in KC. Although all agreed that transit needs improvement and expansion into a regional system, the solutions varied between vague ideas to more specific proposals, such as Henry Klein’s suggestion of small modifications to the existing system with added diversity of  modality (such as zip cars which are rentable on an hourly basis) as the way to begin this process. Others turned to more studies to identify the means to improve transit.

Funding is the elephant in the room and all candidates identified the sadly undeveloped relationships at local, county, state and federal levels as being the major barrier to success. City, county, and state leadership have failed to build the networks and project the common goals that will be required if funding is to be realized. Thus far, transit agencies and entities have relied on lobbyists to do the basics in Jefferson City. Little has come from that effort and expense. Of major concern to all candidates is the potential for shrinkage of federal funding for transit needs and the possible loss from Kansas City’s E-tax revenues. All candidates promised a dedicated role to build coalitions, resolve governance issues and secure long-range transit development for the city, county and region.

Most responses to the public/private sector involvement in transit were both similar and bland in scope and substance. One of the more interesting and complete answers was proffered by Candidate Sly James who suggested reinstatement of the Citizens Commission on Municipal Revenue, a once active coalition of private sector/business community and public sector interests directed to secure optimal outcomes.

The question of the role of the mayor brought out the most animated responses of the morning and all replied that they would use the office as a bully-pulpit for improving public transit in the city and beyond. Again, the current mayor suggested that it is the responsibility of existing agencies (KCATA, MARC) to present a completed plan and it is not the obligation of the mayor, but support can be given after the plan is devised. This was the least assertive response as most of the candidates claimed that they would actively participate in building key relationships to structure the final plans and secure the means to fund and implement expanded transit in the region. All agreed that the role of the mayor would include a high degree of effort to educate the public about the area’s transit needs and future plans, particularly when public approval of funding revenues would be required.

David Mitchell, TAN, submitted the final question of concern regarding a short-term plan for anticipated spikes in the cost of gasoline, hence the increased use of public transit, at least during the period of costly fuel. Little or nothing has been done to prepare for this problem since the last spike in fuel costs approximately three years ago, and it was equally clear that the candidates had given little or no thought to the problem. Deb Hermann did cite a possible use of dollars from the City’s Contingency Fund (recently reinstated by the Council). No one else offered a suggestion.

Reported by Sharon Pendleton, TAN

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KCATA Aug 2010 Board of Commissioners Meeting

Posted by Transit Action Network on September 14, 2010

KCATA Troost Bus

August 18, 2010

A. Michael Graham, Director of Finance, reported on the Second Quarter Financial Performance. Several Key Performance Statistics were presented.

2nd Quarter Key Performance Statistics for period ending June 30, 2010

Annual YTD
2008 2009 2009 2010
1. Metro Expense/Mile

National Avg. 2008



$6.48 $6.31 $6.80
2. Passenger Boardings per Customer Complaint 6,921 8,142 8,633 7,843
3. Vehicle Accidents/Million Miles 39.23 42.5 41.72 38.66
4. On-Time Performance 92.2% 93.4%
5. Miles/Mechanical Failure

National Avg. 2008



9,298 9,228 8,942

1.    The lower number the better. KCATA expenses are significantly lower than the national average. 2008 is the most current national data. Of course 2008 was the year of the high diesel prices so that average may come down. This item is typically lower than the national average. The 2006 national expense per mile was somewhere between $8.50 and $8.75.

2.    The higher the number the better.  2010 YTD is worse than last year at this point. The extreme weather and snowfall early in the year had an impact on this number.

3.    The lower number the better.

4.    The higher the number the better. This is the first year ATA is publishing this number. They have automated this function with their GPS (Global Positioning System) and AVL (Automatic Vehicle Locator) systems so these figures are the result of computerized readings from all the buses not just a random sample of supervisor readings.

5.    The higher the better.

B. ATA cannot maintain the current level of service based on the City’s funding. If Kansas City continues the current funding level, then ATA will exhaust its reserve account at the end of 2013 causing severe service cuts of up to 35%.

C. Public Input: KCATA has added public input as a regular agenda item for its Board of Commissioners meetings. If you have a concern or comment that can’t be dealt with in another manner and feel that this is the best forum then you may request permission to speak. There is a request form to fill out in advance of the meeting.

Here are the rules:

KCATA Board of Commissioners Meeting Public Comment Instructions

  • Individuals desiring to address the Board of Commissioners must complete a REQUEST TO SPEAK form*, which will be submitted to the General Manager prior to the meeting.
  • Individuals must be recognized by the Chairperson, prior to speaking.
  • Remarks will be addressed to the Board as a whole and not to individual Board members.
  • Public comment will be limited to three (3) minutes, unless additional time is granted by the Chair.
  • Total public input on any subject may be limited to a fixed period by the Board Chair.
  • Once the Board moves to other items on the agenda, visitors should NOT address the Board, unless requested to do so by the Chair.
  • Individuals will be expected to provide public input in a professional and constructive manner.  Attempts to present public input in a disruptive manner will not be allowed.

*In lieu of a REQUEST TO SPEAK form, interested parties are welcome to contact Cheryl Floyd by email at least 24 hours prior to the appropriate Board meeting with the following information:

  • Date of Board meeting
  • Name
  • Organization
  • Address
  • City, State, Zip
  • Phone
  • Email

Cheryl D. Floyd
Executive Assistant to the General Manager
Assistant Secretary to the Board of Commissioners
Kansas City Area Transportation Authority
1200 E. 18th Street
Kansas City, MO 64108
P: 816-346-0211
F: 816-346-0253

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July KCATA BOC meeting:Comprehensive Service Analysis, Public Input and Customer Satisfaction Survey

Posted by Transit Action Network on August 8, 2010

KCATA Board of Commissioners meeting July 28, 2010

July 28- KCATA Board of Commissioners Meeting

Comprehensive Service Analysis

The KCATA Comprehensive Service Analysis (CSA) is underway. Link to find out about the 2010-2011 Service Analysis.

Take the Preference Survey for the CSA. It is  important that transit riders speak up and take this survey. It is available in English and Spanish.  The choices are hard.

Link to the CSA July2010 presentation by Nelson Nygaard about the analysis.

KCATA expects to have public meetings in the Fall. We will keep you informed of these meetings.

Public Input:

Ron McLinden, advocate with Transit Action Network, presents appeals for seamless transit at the July 28,2010 KCATA BOC meeting

Ron McLinden, an advocate with the Transit Action Network, spoke about the new services started by Johnson County Transit. He expressed TAN’s strong support for this service and the importance of these routes toward the development of Bus Rapid Transit in Johnson County. TAN had met previously with Cindy Baker, KCATA Director of Marketing, about combining signage and schedules between KCATA and the JO for these new routes. Since Cindy had said KCATA was willing to do this, Ron expressed appreciation for this important step toward seamless transit.

Clay Chastain spoke. He offered an “olive branch” to the KCATA and wanted them to work with him on a transit package to take to voters this  November. The board listened politely and thanked him for coming.

Clay Chastain presentation to KCATA BOC July 28,2010

Customer Satisfaction Survey

ETC Institute recently conducted a Customer Satisfaction Survey about KCATA.  This survey showed overall improvement from the previous survey in 2007.

Sixty-five percent of those surveyed used the service for either going to work or job seeking, supporting the idea of how important the service is to the community. More people are transit dependent than in 2007.

Riders felt there were big improvements in on-time performance and  transit service. Ninety–one percent of riders surveyed would recommend the MAX and the METRO.

Overall results were very positive and better than in 2007 but there is always room for improvement.

Suggested improvements: Improve the courtesy on the Metro information line, integrate technology to distribute information and improve the condition of the buses.

Greatest need: increase weekend service and service between 6am ad 6pm.

Posted in Local Transit Issues, Meeting Reports, Rail, Seamless Transit | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Action! – The Green Impact Zone

Posted by Transit Action Network on July 24, 2010

July 21-The Green Impact Zone* (GIZ) is one of our current “targets” for action! Loaded down with KCATA brochures and our own  Summer Fun on Transit-GIZ flyer, we introduced the Transit Action Network (TAN) to several GIZ neighborhood leaders.  We expressed our desire to be one of the partners working to transform the “Zone” toward sustainability and energy-efficient living.

We reminded everyone that earlier this year TAN and GIZ residents contacted our representatives in Jefferson City during their work on the state budget. Together we helped play a role in $3 million being set aside (at least tentatively) for KCATA. The release of the funds is dependant on the state’s economic condition.

We want to continue working with the Green Impact Zone to encourage the KC City Council and the Missouri State legislature to adequately fund our transit service.

Several leaders were interested in our handouts, and we asked them to consider us a transit resource. We even “invited” ourselves to attend meetings in their individual neighborhoods to learn more about the transit needs as seen by those who live in the GIZ.

*The Green Impact Zone is a cooperative effort to focus federal stimulus funds on projects in a 150-square block area of Kansas City, Mo. – bounded by 39th St. on the north, 51st St. on the south, Troost Ave. on the west, and Prospect to 47th to Swope Parkway on the east.

Posted in Meeting Reports | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »