Transit Action Network (TAN)

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

Archive for the ‘Regional Transit Issue’ Category

Event: Opening of 105-Rosedale Route June 30

Posted by Transit Action Network on June 29, 2014


Join us at the opening event for the #105-Rosedale Route, which connects Argentine and Rosedale areas in Kansas City, Kansas.KCATA

 When: June 30th, at 11:48 am

Where: Emerson Park@ Strong Ave and S29th ST in KCK  

UG logoKCATA: Weekday ScheduleSaturday ScheduleMap

Transit advocates should rejoice since the implementation of this route is a great example of what grassroots advocacy is all about. Rosedale residents felt the need for better transit and they worked with the community residents, churches, and businesses, as well as, Transit Action Network, KCATA, Unified Government Transit and the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Ks., to make this route a reality.

Help spread the word about this new route to make it a success.Rosedale_Development_Association

Beginning Monday, June 30, The Metro’s 105-Rosedale route will provide service Monday through Saturday, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. The route will run every 60 minutes. On weekdays, the 105 will use a 23-seat vehicle; on Saturdays, it will use a 12-seat vehicle.

The route connects to the 104-Argentine and the 107-7th Street.

The route’s destinations include: Argentine Community Center, Argentine District, Argentine School, Cambridge Apartments, Continental Apartments, Emerson Park, Frank Rushton School, JC Harmon School, Kansas City Transitional Care Center, Mission Road Studios, Rainbow Ridge Apartments, Rosedale District, Save-A-Lot, University of Kansas Medical Center, Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market, and Westwood City Hall.

For route and schedule information, contact the Regional Call Center at (816) 221-0660, weekdays from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Background: Rosedale and Argentine Neighborhoods Get New Transit Service May 2014

 

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Transit Stakeholder Forum June 26

Posted by Transit Action Network on June 24, 2014


marclogoJoin MARC, KCATA and the region’s transit operators for the next Transit Stakeholder Forum on June 26.KCATA

Willoughby Design is having a followup meeting with Stakeholders to discuss branding for our regional transit system. They have crafted a branding direction based on regional feedback. Will their guidance truly be regional or will it be city-centric?

When: Thursday, June 26
5–6:30 p.m.
Where: UMKC campus, The new Bloch Executive Hall for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Room 414
5110 Cherry St, Kansas City, MO 64110
Metro Routes: Main St. MAX, 155, Troost MAX, 25
www.kcata.org
The JO Routes: The JO Connex/556
http://www.jocogov.org/dept/transit/home

   Parking:  Metered parking is available in the Cherry Street parking garage (Level 5), a three minute walk from the Bloch Executive Hall. Parking costs $1/hour and is cash only.For a copy of the UMKC campus map, visit http://www.umkc.edu/maps/documents/volker_maps/UMKC_Volker_campus.pdfTransit_Coordinating_Council-2

The Transit Stakeholder Forum is a public meeting where you can provide input for the Regional Transit Coordinating Council

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Is MoDOT About to Sabotage Our Amtrak Service?

Posted by Transit Action Network on June 1, 2014


MOTMWe have been hearing — direct from MoDOT staff — that getting a reliable funding stream for Missouri’s twice-daily Missouri River Runner passenger rail service is one of the advantages of having the proposed 3/4 percent sales tax for transportation.

Now we hear that the trains will not be part of the sales tax project list, and that we’ll continue to have to go to the General Assembly for annual appropriations out of general revenue.

Boarding at KC Union Station

Boarding at KC Union Station

So we posed the question to MoDOT via Twitter:

“@MoDOT – Serious question: How do you propose that @MoRiverRunner be funded? What about funding additional service? Response please. Thx.”

We have received their response:

“@MoRiverRunner definitely a valuable service for Missourians. MoDOT will continue to pursue general revenue funds for it.”

 Translation: Passenger rail won’t be part of the sales tax package.

This makes no sense to us. If the voters pass this sales tax then Legislators will say:  “Hey, MoDOT, we let you ask voters for a sales tax with the flexibility to fund transportation choices. Now you are back here again asking for money for Amtrak? Give us a break!”

Amtrak at KC Union Station

Amtrak at KC Union Station

If this is true, it would run counter to MoDOT’s expressed desire to provide expanded transportation choices, in response to citizen input during the recent “On The Move” long range transportation plan process.

What gives, MoDOT?

The explanation we got just days ago from a mid-level MoDOT representative was that they were concerned that the sales tax funding might not extend beyond the ten-year span of this “temporary” sales tax. Well, if that’s the case, how do they justify doing anything? Nothing is certain about the future. Isn’t ten years of certainty for passenger rail a whole lot better than ten years of annual uncertainty?

MoDOT staff have worked for years with Amtrak and the Union Pacific (the host railroad) to speed up the trains and prepare for eventually expanding the service by adding a third and fourth daily round trip. Don’t undercut all that work by putting the Missouri River Runner trains back on a year-at-a-time, hand-to-mouth basis. If you do, MoDOT, your credibility will be seriously damaged.

Amtrak passengers loading at Jeff City to go to St. Louis.

Amtrak passengers loading at Jeff City to go to St. Louis.

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Summertime Transit Tag for Youths – Tranz It

Posted by Transit Action Network on May 28, 2014


METRO ogoOne of our favorite KCATA programs is Tranz It. This youth tag program only runs for three months a year, June, July and August, so a lot of people aren’t aware of it, especially in the suburbs.Tranz_It

Youths sign up for the program with KCATA and for $12 a month, 12- to 18-year-olds can get unlimited rides using Tranz It and take The Metro and MAX to work, school or anywhere The Metro goes. Considering that a regular KCATA monthly pass costs $50, this is a huge bargain. Youths 12- to 18-year-olds can always get half price tickets if they have a Youth Reduced Farecard, but for the summer, you can’t beat the convenience and cost of Tranz It and young people don’t have to carry cash to use the bus.

The summer tag program provides young people an opportunity for independence and freedom in the summer they may lack without a car. Of course there are all the KCATA fixed bus routes that cover much of the metro area, but the local MetroFlex routes are often unknown to young riders. During the school year the more limited MetroFlex service hours make it unavailable to most students. In the summer though, young people need to include these buses when considering a trip. These routes are for anyone, not just older riders or commuters. For instance, if you live in Lee’s Summit and would like a summer job at your local fast food chain but can’t figure out how to get there — look into Lee’s Summit Route 252 MetroFlex. If you live and work in the service area and want to use the bus during the service hours, it will pick you up at home, deliver you to work and return you at the end of your shift. Or you can go to the movies or the shopping districts with your friends. You have to call the previous day to schedule a trip on any MetroFlex, but Route 252 service runs weekdays from 7:30 am until 5 pm and covers much of Lee’s Summit.

http://www.kcata.org/maps_schedules/routes/252_lees_summit_metroflex

Many of the MetroFlex routes have good connections to regular fixed routes. Check out these MetroFlex routes: #296 Bannister/Hillcrest,  #253 Raytwon, #237 Gladstone/Antioch, #296 and #298 South KC and #244 North KC MetroFlex.

KCATA’s MetroFlex guide: http://www.kcata.org/rider_guide/metroflex_on_demand

So get your TRANZ IT, plan your trip, call ahead if you are using a MetroFlex, and enjoy the fun summer activities or find a bus or MAX to that important summer job.

All youths should practice good safety habits when traveling and be sure to tell your family where you are going, who you are going with and when you will be home.

Enjoy the summer on the BUS!!!

For more information on Tranz It call 816-221-0610 or read KCATA’s bulletin:  http://www.kcata.org/rider_bulletins/tranz_it_lets_youths_ride

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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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Attend Transit Stakeholders Forum Mar 27

Posted by Transit Action Network on March 24, 2014


all transit agenciesJoin the discussion about regional branding!

Don’t miss the second Transit Stakeholders Forum. This forum gives everyone an opportunity to provide input into decision-making for Kansas City’s regional transit system. This meeting will focus on the regional branding effort. All of the transit providers (KCATA, Johnson County Transit, Unified Government Transit, Inde Bus and eventually the streetcar) will operate under one umbrella logo, or “regional co-brand” while maintaining their individual identities. Please attend and provide your perspective.

The results of this discussion will provide input to the Regional Transit Coordinating Council and help define the core values and other branding elements that will represent our regional transit system.

A regional co-brand is an important step toward future cohesion of the region’s transit system. The new brand will apply to future initiatives like a one-stop regional transit website, a fare collection system, and a regional transit map. It will help existing users more easily navigate a region-wide system and help attract new transit users.

When: Thursday, March 27 @ 5-6:30 p.m.
Where: Kauffman Foundation Conference Center,
4801 Rockhill Road, Kansas City, MO 64110
Metro Routes: Metro 25, Troost MAX, 47
The JO Routes: The JO Connex/556

You can submit a comment or question if you can’t attend.  Please email smartmoves@marc.org.

Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/228917683967865/?ref=2&ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming

 

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

Posted by Transit Action Network on February 3, 2014


MOstateflagLast year the Missouri General Assembly considered a referendum (SJR 16) that would ask Missouri voters to approve a ten-year “temporary” one-cent sales tax for the purpose of increasing funding of our transportation systems.

The measure was filibustered and failed in the final days of the session.

It was anticipated that an initiative petition would be circulated early this year, but the Post-Dispatch reports that those plans have been suspended pending another try in the General Assembly.

Representative Dave Hinson has filed HJR 68

http://www.house.mo.gov/billsummary.aspx?bill=HJR68&year=2014&code=R

and Senator Mike Kehoe has filed SJR 48.

http://www.senate.mo.gov/14info/BTS_Web/Bill.aspx?SessionType=R&BillID=28965054

The two bills are virtually identical to those considered last session.

The House Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on HJR 68 on Tuesday, February 4, at Noon in the Capitol Building.  The Senate Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing on SJR 48 that same day at 8:30 am.

We are submitting written testimony to the committees. We encourage others to consider submitting testimony as well.

Following is our statement regarding these bills:

To: Senators Kehoe and Schaefer and members of the Senate Appropriations Committee

Representatives Hinson and Schatz, and members of the House Transportation Committee

From: Transit Action Network (an association of individuals and organizations who work to expand and improve public transit in the Kansas City region)

Subject: SJR 48 and HJR 68 – Testimony for Information Purposes

Please consider this testimony regarding SJR 48 and HJR 68.  We neither support nor oppose the resolution as introduced, but want to offer our perspective.

[1] – Taking Care of the System.  We acknowledge the need for additional funding for MoDOT to keep the existing system of roads and bridges in a state of good repair.  Director Dave Nichols cites a need for $485 million per year to do that, and says he expects to have only $325 million per year beginning in 2017.  We support closing that $160 million gap.

[2] – Need for Transit.  Missouri needs to provide significant additional funding for rural and urban public transit.  We are at or near the bottom among states with significant urban populations in providing state support for transit.  Moreover, if it makes sense for the state to provide farm-to-market roads, it also makes sense to provide “workforce-to-workplace” transit.

[3] – Changing Demographics and Preferences.  Our senior population is growing, along with an increasing inclination for young people to postpone or forego getting a driver’s license.  Nationally, driving peaked about 2006.  Thus, there is an increased need for public transit, and also for intercity passenger rail service such as that provided by our Missouri River Runner trains.

[4] – Concern About the Sales Tax – User Pays Principle.  We are aware of broad concern about using a sales tax to fund an expanded road and bridge program.  That would be a dramatic departure from the long-standing “user-pays” principle for roads and bridges, using the motor fuels tax, vehicle registration fees, and the sales tax on motor vehicles.  To the extent possible, road and bridge costs should be borne by the users and passed through to ultimate consumers as part of the overall cost of goods and services.

[5] – Concern About the Sales Tax – Regressivity.  We are aware that the sales tax is among the most regressive taxes, with the burden falling disproportionately on low-income workers.  These are the very workers who are less likely to drive and more likely to rely on public transit.

[6] – Concern About the Sales Tax – Local Needs.  We are aware of many local needs for which public officials look to a local sales tax.  Thus, there’s reluctance on the part of local public officials to get behind a significant increase in the state sales tax.

[7] – National Discussion on Funding for Roads and Bridges.  There is broad recognition that there are structural problems with total reliance on the motor fuels tax (due in part to changes in energy sources for motor vehicles), and that a shift toward a broader array of user fees makes sense.  We suggest that this might not be the time for Missouri to shift to the sales tax for roads and bridges while other revenue sources are under consideration.  We also suggest that ten years might be too long to commit to a sales tax while other user-based revenue sources are still being considered.

[8] – Here’s What We Think Might Have Greater Appeal.  We believe the following might have greater appeal to voters, as well as to local elected officials:

a – A smaller and shorter-term transportation funding program.

b – An increase in a combination of existing user fees to fund needed improvements to the existing road and bridge system

c – A small increase in the sales tax — as little as two-tenths of one cent — to fund improved and expanded rural and urban public transit, and to stabilize funding for the state-sponsored Missouri River Runner trains operated by Amtrak.

Thank you for considering our testimony.

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The Penny Sales Tax is Back – And What to Do About It

Posted by Transit Action Network on January 27, 2014


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.

Summary: [1] The penny sales tax is back.  [2] A sales tax for highways is a bad idea. [3] If something more reasonable is to even be considered by the General Assembly, it’s up to leaders in Missouri’s urban areas to make it happen.

That penny sales tax for transportation — the one that was defeated in the closing hours of the legislative session last spring — is back.

Rep. Dave Hinson filed House Joint Resolution (HJR) 68 in the House on January 22, and Sen. Mike Kehoe is expected to file a corresponding and presumably identical measure in the Senate during the coming week.

HJR 68
Proposes a constitutional amendment imposing a 1% temporary increase in the state sales and use tax to be used for transportation projects

http://www.house.mo.gov/billsummary.aspx?bill=HJR68&year=2014&code=R

Full text of the bill as introduced:

http://www.house.mo.gov/billtracking/bills141/biltxt/intro/HJR0068I.htm

A summary of the bill has not yet been posted.

Support for it is already being garnered.  After all, if the mostly-highway-lobby sponsors of the tax proposal can it put on the ballot by the legislature, they can avoid the $1-2 million estimated cost of circulating an initiative petition.

On January 23 the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, along with the Farm Bureau, State Highway Patrol, and MoDOT, held their annual transportation conference.  MoDOT’s Chief Engineer Ed Hassinger spoke about the new long-range plan, Vision for Missouri’s Transportation Future.  He was followed by Representatives Hinson and Schatz and Senator Kehoe.  MoDOT’s Director, Dave Nichols, was the luncheon speaker.

By all of the accounts we’ve seen — tweets during the conference and subsequent news reports — the discussion was all roads and bridges.

That shouldn’t surprise anybody, given that it was the Missouri Chamber and Farm Bureau whose support was being sought. We suspect transit and other modes were at least mentioned — in response to a tweet from Tom Shrout of St. Louis, MoDOT Director Nichols gave assurance that he would speak about all modes — but in effect it was all about roads and bridges.

The message was dire: If MoDOT doesn’t get additional funding pretty soon, it will barely be able to maintain Missouri’s 33,000 miles of roads in good condition.  Whats more, within just a few years MoDOT won’t even be able to afford the matching money needed to get the federal funds expected to be available to Missouri.

Pretty stark.

Presentations at the conference were undoubtedly oriented to support what is widely anticipated to be the likely funding solution — a one penny increase in the state sales tax.

We know MoDOT people well enough to believe they’d probably rather get the new money from some other source. After all, they know the sales tax doesn’t do anything to recover from highway users the full cost of building and operating roads and bridges. They know that the sales tax hike gives the trucking industry a free ride, since there’d be virtually no increase in revenue from trucking, even though trucks put an undue burden on roads and bridges, and cause MoDOT to have to build them to carry heavier loads.

MoDOT is in the unenviable position of wanting to maintain our roads in good condition, and to expand capacity where it might be needed, yet having virtually no say in where the money comes from.

But on the other hand, wouldn’t it make sense for MoDOT to at least make a case for some other revenue enhancing scenarios — even if those scenarios don’t have much chance of success in the current political climate in the Legislature? After all, one can’t expect to get support for something unless somebody has at least made a good case for it. Past efforts by MoDOT to get other sources of funding considered have been largely a matter of “testing the political wind,” rather than laying out a “here’s what really makes sense” proposal.

The January 23 conference wasn’t about how best to raise the money.  Instead, it was about building support for the sales tax.  Period. It didn’t matter that the sales tax is regressive, and that it has met resistance from many quarters, including local public officials across the state. We know, for example, that elected officials in the Kansas City area are notably cool to the idea. After all, there are local needs that involve putting sales tax measures on the ballot. Think expansion of the Kansas City Streetcar System. Think Jackson County’s Trails and Transit Plan. And it certainly didn’t matter that trucks would get off scot free.

We recognize, by the way, that a small sales tax might be necessary to provide additional state funding for urban and rural public transit, inter-city passenger rail, and other non-highway modes.  A sales tax of two-tenths of a cent would be more than adequate for those needs.

In his State of the State message on January 21, Governor Jay Nixon called for “robust discussion” of our transportation needs and how to fund them.

A robust discussion can’t be expected to occur at a Missouri Chamber / Farm Bureau conference that was designed to build support for a penny sales tax. If anything, that conference probably served to heighten the division between Missouri’s rural and urban interests.

If we are to see anything resembling the robust discussion that Governor Nixon called for, it’s going to have to be sparked by urban leaders.

We suggest that Mayors James (Kansas City) and Slay (St. Louis), county chiefs Sanders (Jackson) and Dooley (St. Louis), MPO directors Warm (Mid-America Regional Council) and Hillhouse (East-West Gateway Council of Governments), civic leaders — plus the Governor himself — come together and have that robust discussion.  We’d expect the outcome to be a far more reasonable and equitable solution for funding Missouri’s transportation needs than a simplistic penny increase in the sales tax.

 

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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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Missouri’s Transportation Future – Our Latest Analysis

Posted by Transit Action Network on November 21, 2013


On November 18, MoDOT called its regional planning partners to Jeff City to lay out the process for developing a list of projects that would accompany a transportation funding question that could be on the November, 2014, ballot. That question — should it clear the necessary hurdles either through the initiative petition process or by act of the 2014 General Assembly — would ask Missouri voters to approve a one-cent increase in the state sales tax for a period of ten years, producing a total of about $8 billion. The project list would let voters see what they’d be getting. It’s all about accountability, and accountability is good.

Before saying any more we should remind our readers that the penny sales tax is still just a proposal — albeit the most-often discussed proposal — by which Missouri would get additional money for transportation purposes. As we’ve reported previously, there are rumblings of opposition to the proposal. Whether proponents — including highway contractors and chambers of commerce and others having a stake in improving highways — will be able to raise enough money to finance a petition process and then an election campaign to pass the measure, is still unknown. Read our earlier entry:
www.flickr.com/photos/58867268@N03/10808168813/

Based on a briefing by MoDOT and MARC staff at the November 19 meeting of MARC’s Total Transportation Policy Committee, it appears that a lot less is set in stone than we had expected. Moreover, indications are that MoDOT is willing to have the project list include just about anything — anything transportation-related, of course.

A tentative spending plan circulated by MoDOT earlier this year had well over $1 billion coming off the top for reconstruction of the 200 rural miles of I-70 as a six-lane freeway. That is no longer a given. Even the idea of building six lanes all the way is apparently no longer to be taken for granted. That shift in itself is real progress.

Vision for MOUnder MoDOT’s plan, its regional planning partners — Metropolitan Planning Organizations like Mid-America Regional Council in Kansas City and East-West Gateway Coordinating Council in St. Louis, plus Regional Planning Councils throughout the rest of the state — will develop their priority lists between now and next June.

Meanwhile, MoDOT will develop a very general plan for how the projected $8 billion dollar pie would be carved up among categories of needs and jurisdictions. It’s anybody’s guess what that might look like. There might well be a few slices off the top:
– A slice for I-70, as has previously been discussed?
– A slice for public transit, to be divided among the state’s dozen or so transit providers?
– A slice to assure funding for the Missouri River Runner passenger trains between Kansas City and St. Louis.
– Maybe even a slice for some hypothetical “challenge grant” programs to help local communities do long-needed smaller projects?

Whatever off-the-top slices there might be for statewide needs and programs, there would also be an allocation to each of MoDOT’s seven districts for projects to be decided in consultation with MPO’s and RPC’s.

Sound complicated? Well, it probably is, and we have a hunch that even MoDOT’s top staff don’t know yet how it’s going to play out.

What we do know is that we’ve never before seen a proposed spending program that is so open to public involvement and input.

That’s where you come in.MOTM

[1] – MoDOT’s draft long-range plan, “A Vision for Missouri’s Transportation Future,” is now out for a 45-day comment period. Here’s the website:
www.missourionthemove.org/
Throughout the site you’ll find opportunities to click on an orange box and let MoDOT know what you think. Do it!

[2] – Get involved in MARC’s ongoing long-range transportation plan update process:
www.to2040.org/
Begin with MARC’s online survey about priorities:
to2040.questionpro.com/

Transportation_Outlook_2040A final note. We’ve noted before that there are reasons to be concerned about passing a sales tax for transportation and nothing else, while highway user fees are among the lowest in the nation. Perhaps legislators will take that concern seriously in January and devise a revenue package that gives MoDOT enough to keep it going while also meeting other important state investment needs. Meanwhile, it’s important that we play along while we press MoDOT and its planning partners to devise as progressive and inclusive a transportation investment program as possible.

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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   http://kcsmartmoves.org/ 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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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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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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Proposed Missouri Sales Tax for Transportation Passes Senate

Posted by Transit Action Network on April 8, 2013


On March 14 the Missouri Senate passed SJR 16, a resolution that would ask Missouri voters to approve a one-cent sales tax for transportation for a period of ten years.  The vote was 24-10.  See “Current Bill Summary” on the Senate website for current status:MO_senate

http://www.senate.mo.gov/13info/BTS_Web/Bill.aspx?SessionType=R&BillID=17866209

The resolution is now in the House where a nearly identical resolution has been under consideration.  We have heard reports that this one-cent sales tax proposal might not get out of the House this year, but that it might instead serve as the basis for an initiative petition campaign financed largely by highway interests.  Thus, it’s important to continue to try to make this resolution as “transit-friendly” as possible.

The resolution is not entirely to the liking of Missouri transit and bike/ped interests since it doesn’t include a specific percentage of the new revenue for non-highway purposes such as local and rural public transit, Amtrak and other inter-city passenger transportation, and improved accommodations for pedestrians and cyclists.  However, it could turn out OK depending on what’s in MoDOT’s “list of projects” that will be prepared prior to the measure’s going on the ballot.  Our impression is that MoDOT has become a whole lot more friendly to non-highway modes of transportation and thus all is not lost.

Below is the “Current Bill Summary” from the Senate website, along with our annotations and comments [Italicized, in color and enclosed in brackets].

SJR 16 – Imposes a temporary one cent sales and use tax for transportation purposes

Current Bill Summary
SS#2/SCS/SJR 16 – This constitutional proposal, if approved by the Missouri voters, would raise the state sales and use tax by one percent for a period of ten years. The proceeds from the additional sales and use tax [estimated to be a total of approximately $7.92 billion over ten years] are to be used for transportation purposes. The temporary sales and use tax measure must be resubmitted to the voters every 10 years until such measure is defeated.

 [The matter of whether to use a general revenue source such as the sales tax to fund highways and other transportation purposes is an important tax policy question that we believe needs further debate.]

Five percent of the sales and use tax proceeds shall be deposited into the County Aid Transportation Fund, which is created in the state treasury by the resolution. Moneys in the newly created fund shall be distributed to the various Missouri counties in a manner similar to how motor fuel tax proceeds are distributed to counties. [A portion of existing state fuel taxes and other user fees is already distributed to counties.] The sales and use tax proceeds distributed to the counties may be used for local highways and bridges, state highway system purposes, or for county transportation system purposes (multimodal).

[“Multimodal” is an ambiguous term meaning any mode of transportation other than roads and bridges.] 

In a similar manner, five percent of the sales and use tax proceeds shall be deposited into the Municipal Aid Transportation Fund, which is created in the state treasury by the resolution. Moneys in the newly created fund shall be distributed to the various Missouri cities, towns and villages in a manner similar to how motor fuel tax proceeds are distributed to such political subdivisions. [A portion of existing state fuel taxes and other user fees is already distributed to cities and other local jurisdictions.]  The sales and use tax proceeds distributed to the cities, towns, and villages may be used for local roads and streets, state highway system purposes and uses, or for city transportation system purposes (multimodal).

 [For reference, our estimate of Kansas City, Missouri’s per capita share of the proposed sales tax is approximately $30.4 million over the ten years. 

$7.92b x .05 x (2010 population KCMO / Missouri: 460k / 5.989m = 0.0768) = $30.4m or about $3 million per year

 Our $3 million estimate uses a distribution method based on population. Actual distribution of new revenue to cities and counties would be according to a more complicated formula.

More than 25 percent of current highway user fees (fuel taxes, vehicle registration and driver license fees, and vehicle sales taxes) is passed through to cities and towns.  Ten percent of the new sales tax for counties and cities/towns/villages would thus represent a significantly lower share of the new revenue than they get at present: it would be an increase in revenue to such jurisdictions, but a lesser share of the state total.]

The remaining sales and use tax proceeds (90%) shall be deposited into a newly created trust fund known as the “Transportation Sales Tax Fund”. Moneys in the Transportation Sales Tax Fund may be expended by the commission for state highway system purposes or for state transportation system purposes and uses (multimodal).

 [Early press reports about SJR 16 have indicated there would be an off-the-top allocation of $1 billion or more for reconstruction of I-70 between Independence and Warrenton. Those accounts have incorrectly conflated the Resolution itself with a preliminary spending scenario that MoDOT has floated in a four-page color brochure. MoDOT has been using that scenario in discussing the update to its long-range transportation plan that is currently underway through “On the Move” listening sessions being held throughout the state. Based on our participation in those sessions, as well as accounts we have read, we believe it is reasonable to conclude that MoDOT’s initial scenario will not survive as prepared.]

The resolution requires the one percent sales and use tax to expire in 10 years unless the sales and use tax is renewed by the voters. If the decennial sales and use tax measure is ever disapproved by the Missouri voters, the sales and use tax will terminate at the end of the year following such election.

Unless approved by the voters, the General Assembly, counties, and municipalities are prohibited from increasing or decreasing the motor fuel tax from the rate of the tax authorized by law on January 1, 2013, while the sales and use tax is in effect

[On careful reading, this provision does not actually promise that the fuel tax would not be raised, only that it would not be raised without a vote of the people — which would be required in any case.  Given that Missouri ranks 45th in the amount of its motor fuels tax, such an increase still makes a lot of sense with or without the sales tax.]

Unless approved by the voters, the commission shall not own or operate a toll highway or toll bridge on a state highway or bridge that is in existence on the effective date of this resolution while the sales and use tax is in effect. A similar provision applies to counties and municipalities. Unless approved by the Missouri voters, counties and municipalities are prohibited from tolling existing highways or bridges under their jurisdiction during the duration of the sales and use tax.

[Again, the “unless approved by voters” clause doesn’t actually prevent Missouri from having one or more toll roads at some point during the ten years, if voter attitudes change.]

The act requires, prior to any election to which the sales and use tax proposal is submitted to the voters, the commission to approve a list of projects, programs, and facilities on the state highway system and state transportation system that will be funded from the additional sales and use tax proceeds.

[While “list of projects” might be interpreted by most people to mean highways or bridges, the inclusion of the word “programs” is encouraging.  Thus, the “list of projects” developed by MoDOT might well include such things as an annual allocation for OATS and other rural transit systems throughout the state related to the rapid growth in the senior population as “baby boomers” retire. Additional programs might include an annual allocation to urban transit systems for capital expenditures or operating assistance, an annual allocation to continue and increase the frequency of “Missouri River Runner” passenger trains operated by Amtrak, etc.]

Starting in the 1st fiscal year following voter approval of the resolution, the commission shall annually submit a report to the Governor, General Assembly and the Joint Committee on Transportation Oversight that shall include the status of the approved list of projects, programs and facilities on the state highway system and state transportation system.

In the annual report filed in the 6th fiscal year following voter approval of the resolution, if the Joint Committee on Transportation Oversight identifies and determines that any project, program or facility on the commission’s approved list has not yet been included in the commission’s statewide transportation improvement program, then the joint committee by two-thirds majority of its members, shall identify each specific project, program or facility that has not been included in the commission’s statewide transportation improvement program and shall within 30 legislative days recommend suspension of appropriations from the transportation sales tax fund in an amount that is equivalent to the amount of funds necessary for each specific project, program or facility that was not included.

 [Provisions in the above two paragraphs help to keep MoDOT “honest” with respect to the list of projects.]

Under the resolution, the General Assembly may approve the recommendation of the joint committee by enactment of a concurrent resolution. Such resolution may be introduced in either legislative chamber no later than 14 calendar days after receipt of the joint committee’s recommendation. The resolution shall not be subject to amendment by either chamber and may only be approved in its entirety. The presiding officer of each legislative chamber in which a concurrent resolution has been introduced, shall submit it to a vote of the membership not sooner than 7 calendar days nor later than 14 calendar days after introduction of the concurrent resolution. The presiding officer of the chamber passing a concurrent resolution shall immediately forward the resolution to the other chamber and the presiding officer of that chamber shall submit it to a vote of the membership not sooner than 7 calendar days or later than 14 calendar days of its receipt from the other legislative chamber.

Any suspension of the appropriations from the transportation sales tax fund shall be null and void when the highways and transportation commission amends its statewide transportation improvement program to include each project, program and facility identified in the joint committee’s recommendation.

 [End of Current Bill Summary]

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Attend MoDOT Long-Range Plan Meetings in Kansas City – March 12, 13 and 14

Posted by Transit Action Network on March 11, 2013


MOTMMoDOT is inviting input on the latest update of its long-range transportation, “On the Move.” It is extremely important that transit advocates attend the meetings to make sure transit is a priority.

The project website http://www.missourionthemove.org/about-on-the-move/ says,
“On the Move is a community engagement effort led by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) to gather direction and insight from Missourians on major transportation issues and priorities across the state.”
 
Three “listening sessions” are scheduled for Kansas City this week.

KCI Expo Center, Ambassador Room
11730 NW Ambassador Drive , Kansas City, MO, 64153
March 12, 2013 6:00 pm
Link to RSVP: http://www.missourionthemove.org/event/on-the-move-listening-session-kansas-city-region/ 
 
 
UMKC, Atterbury Student Success Center, Pierson Auditorium
5000 Holmes Street, Kansas City, MO, 64110
March 13, 2013 5:00 pm
Link to RSVP:http://www.missourionthemove.org/event/on-the-move-listening-session-kansas-city-region-2/  
 
Union Station, Chamber Board Room
30 West Pershing Road, Kansas City, MO, 64108
March 14, 2013 5:00 pm
Link to RSVP: http://www.missourionthemove.org/event/on-the-move-listening-session-kansas-city-region-3/

Mo_transit_fundingMoDOT is asking for RSVP’s to attend these sessions, but we encourage you to attend even if you have not RSVP’d.

While the purpose of the meetings seems simple enough — to gain public input to update the LRTP — it’s complicated by the fact that legislation is moving through the Missouri General Assembly to put a one-penny sales tax for transportation on the ballot in 2014.  That tax would be for a ten-year period, and would fund a list of specific projects. 

Thus, there’s some ambiguity about whether these meetings are just about long-range needs, or whether they are also about coming up with a project list.  Even top MoDOT staff have not been able to express clearly how the listening sessions will relate to the project list.

Our hope is that the listening sessions will stay focused on the big picture — Missourians’ long-term needs and desires — rather than individual projects.  Ask people about long-term needs and that’s what they’ll think and talk about.  Ask them what projects they want and the session could turn into a “my project is more important than yours” contest.

Nonetheless, transit advocates need to attend the listening sessions this week to help assure that additional funding for transit is included in whatever package is ultimately presented to the voters. Identify and prioritize the long-term needs and desires first, then choose projects to fulfill that list.

We suggest you take the following perspective into whichever listening session you attend:

  •  Roads and bridges are important, but Missouri also needs to increase its investment in other transportation alternatives.
  • Missouri’s population is aging, and with that goes an increased need for both urban and rural public transit.  Missouri currently provides less than $1 million per year to all transit providers combined — only $119,000 this year for KCATA.  Nearly every other state with an urban population invests much more in transit.
  •  More and more people are voting with their pocket books to drive less and use transit more.  That’s reflected in the decline in the percent of adults who have a driver’s license, a trend that’s evident in every age group but especially among young adults.
  •  MoDOT should continue to add accommodations for cyclists and pedestrians along its routes, particularly in cities and towns.
  • Missouri needs a stable source of funding to continue and increase the popular “Missouri River Runner” trains linking Kansas City and St. Louis.  These trains are operated by Amtrak but funded by Missouri.

So please attend one of the meetings and tell them to make transit a priority.

http://www.missourionthemove.org/community-engagement/schedule-of-events/

You can also express what you want to see in Missouri’s transportation future online.

http://www.missourionthemove.org/community-engagement/project-suggestion-form/

See The Blue Ribbon Citizens Committee on Missouri’s Transportation Needs Final Report 2013

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Online Transit Forum – Candidates for Mayor of WYCO/KCK

Posted by Transit Action Network on February 19, 2013


UG logoTAN asked all of the candidates for Mayor of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas to answer questions about transit to help voters understand their positions on this critical issue. We appreciate candidates Janice Witt, Ann Murguia, Mark Holland and Nathan Barnes for talking the time to respond to our questionnaire and sharing their philosophy, vision and ideas on transit.

We have chosen questions on Transit Philosophy, Funding, Meeting Increased Transit Demand, KCATA, and Creating a Transit-Friendly Environment.

The whole document with all the responses can be downloaded at the end of the article. Be sure to send this article to citizens of Wyandotte County so they can be informed about the candidates’ positions.

Transit is a major issue in Wyandotte County since there is significant demand for a good transit system from the citizens.

The answers are given in the order TAN received them. We do not endorse a particular candidate but believe voters should be well-informed as to candidates’ knowledge of the subject and their positions. The responses are color coded in order to improve ease of reading and finding the response from a particular candidate. The candidates’ initials are used to identify their responses. JW=Janice Witt, AM=Ann Murguia, MH=Mark Holland, NB=Nathan Barnes

Section 1- Transit Philosophy

A. What do you see in the future for transit in Wyandotte County?

Janice Witt

Janice Witt
responses in black

JW – I see a beautiful transit system that is clean, efficient and respectful. One that is conducive for everyday riders to commute from and to any community or destination without trading their self- respect for a ride. I see beautiful, respectful and functional covered bus stops/landings with time and information accessible and powered by solar energy to maintain the positive green effects of the use of transit instead of personal transportation.

AM – We need to create the kind of public transportation system that incent ridership.   I think we are off to a good start with the $10 million grant we received to improve the State Avenue corridor, but we need to do more.

MH – I think we are going to have to be very creative in addressing the needs of our community.  State and Federal funding has been under attack, and these funds are essential to providing the level of service necessary to serve our community.  My hope is to improve access to transit.

I supported the “Complete Street” initiative that calls for more sidewalks.  Without access for people to walk to the bus from their neighborhoods, it becomes very challenging to increase ridership.

NB – Under my administration I see Wyandotte County a fully integrated system with more routes and bigger buses.

B.   Do you support continued county funding of public transit as an essential service throughout Wyandotte County? 

JW – Yes, without transit the small businesses in Wyco would have no means to acquire manpower other than personal transportation. Without transit the poor will remain in the cycle of poverty because of a lack of transportation. If they have no access to fresh groceries and further education, the cycle of poverty continues.  Without transit there will continue to be a drain on mental well-being, health outcomes and isolation issues that plaque Wyco.

Ann Murguia

Ann Murguia
responses in green

AM -Yes….many WYCO residents depend on public transportation to meet their daily needs.  The government needs to assist in developing a quality state of the art system that will create such demand, that over time, through ridership, will pay for itself.

MH – Yes.  I wish it were stronger, but I believe there will always be a need for a local match for State and Federal funds.

NB – Yes. It is a city and county issue and our city and county should address funding.

C.   Federal funding is dramatically decreasing for ALL transit. A decrease in State transit funding is also a possibility. Should Unified Government replace these lost funds, both capital and operating, in order to maintain the current level of transit service?

 JW – I believe that there should be a small percent sales tax added in KCK, so that we can build ourselves the transit system that we need to make our community mobile and viable to incoming business, homeowners and new adventures both into the Northeast and our entire community. Edwardsville, Turner, Bonner all of these surrounding communities that are considered any part of KCK should have access to the positive effects of mass transit. It helps us all in the long run. I also hold no aversion to a bi-state tax and joining the concept of a regional transportation authority to give smooth, efficient service to all of our communities. Why do I find this acceptable? Because right now as we speak, Schlitebahn has a proposal before our commission to tax an additional 2% sales tax to build on to their already subsidized private venture waterpark. This has ZERO benefit to the everyday citizen of Wyandotte County. It is a personal or Corporate business expense that is being added on the people who will then have to pay exorbitant fees to get into the water park even though they have paid for it twice now at the cost of our fair grounds which gave Free access to the people of this county to educational and social experiences. Unlike a bus system, which would give access for minimal fees to anyone who needed transportation hopefully anywhere in KCK, JOCO or KCMO.

AM –  I don’t think government is our only option when it comes to public transportation funding.  The philanthropic community has a lot of interest in seeing a more healthy Kansas City.  I have good relationships with this community and would hope to be able to work with them and private business to offset some of the costs associated with developing a quality transit system that over time could sustain itself.

Mark Holland

Mark Holland
responses in blue

MH – We are facing State and Federal funding cuts in numerous areas.  Transit is one that is heavily dependent on this funding.  It would be nice to say that we will not cut services, but the reality is that if this is not a national priority we will be hard pressed to replace the loss dollar for dollar.

NB – Yes.The transit system is currently under funded. The least we can do is to keep the funding going. I will take Wyandotte County from the welfare mentality to the understanding that it is our responsibility to fund basic transportation.

Section 2 – Funding

A.   Currently local transit funding in Wyandotte County comes out of General Revenue Funds.

1. What local transit funding mechanisms do you think are best for Wyandotte County?

JW – I believe that there should be a percent sales tax especially in the number one tourist destination in the state of Kansas. There must be some benefit to the citizens of this county.

AM – I think there needs to be new ideas in addressing funding for transit. This is a long-standing problem for governments across the metropolitan area and nationally.  As I said above, I don’t think government is our only option when it comes to public transportation funding.  The philanthropic community has a lot of interest in seeing a more healthy Kansas City.  Public transportation promotes a healthier lifestyle.  I would hope to be able to work with charitable organizations and private business to offset some of the costs associated with developing a quality transit system that over time could sustain itself.

MH – I think General Fund dollars are the best place for this fund.

Nathan Barnes

Nathan Barnes
responses in purple

NB – A dedicated sales tax.

2. Would you consider a small county-wide transit tax to help sustain the transit system Please explain your reasoning.

 JW – What I would consider is this, the bulk of the transit that is necessary at this moment involves the Legends area and transit for the dwindling population of the Northeast and other areas to get to the businesses in the West and the KU area. The specific serviced section of the community will bear the brunt of the cost over the long run every day by using the service and paying standard fees. It is my opinion that, the business districts that benefit are the areas that should bear the bulk of any percent of tax increase, as the citizens would also be included in the revenue from the increase in purchases made in that area. If a separate tax district could be utilized to ensure that the small businesses of our general community are not harmed by this increase I would not be against it. But my mind is open, this is an issue that needs to be at the forefront of conversation, but I need more information.

We are taxed to support abatements for corporations but never given the opportunity to support ourselves. I do not believe the people would have a problem with this if they could see and use the benefit.

AM – I think any time we talk about taxing the people in WYCO that needs to be placed on a voting ballot.

MH – That would not be my first choice.  When we unified the government 16 years ago, we brought a whole plethora of “special taxes” back into the General Budget.  I understand the thought that it looks like more of a priority if it stands alone, but I think it is unnecessarily cumbersome in annual budgeting process.

NB – Yes.With decreasing federal funds it is the only choice.

B.   Transit demand in Wyandotte County continues to increase.  How and where would you get additional local transit funding to meet the increasing demand?

 JW – Small percent tax approved by the citizenry.

 AM – I think it is simple supply and demand.  As transit demands increase our product will become better and ridership will increase and therefore revenue from riders will increase.

MH – I think this is where we need to be creative.  It is very difficult to put the cost on users, who in our particular community are often the least able to support it.  We need to continue tracking which lines are running at capacity and which ones are not.  Are there areas where we can expand call for service?  Are there areas where we can run smaller vehicles?  We need to keep in mind the goal of transit is to get people from point A to point B, not just to run buses.

NB – I will get additional local transit funding to meet the increasing demand from Sales Taxes.

C.   How will you work to increase Wyandotte County’s level of transit funding

1.    at the state level?

AM – On many occasions I have been successful in reaching across party lines and will use that experience to lobby for public transportation.

MH – We need to continue to lobby for State funding based on ridership and not on population.  This is one of the biggest challenges.  Transit money should follow the need, not the area.

2.    at the federal level?

AM – Again I have good relationships with our elected officials on the federal level that will allow my voice to be heard for the people of Wyandotte County.

MH – We need to continue to engage with regional lobbying efforts.  These collaborative conversations with the entire Metro area will yield far better results than if we go individually.  I think the ongoing success of KCATA is the best hope Wyandotte County has for more funding.

State and Federal

JW – The very best that I can! Those who know how this should be handled will give me guidance and I will follow their lead. I am not a micromanager. I believe that people gain the knowledge, skills and abilities to do the job that they are hired to do. As a manager I would ensure that we had the proper staffing with the proper tools to do the proper job and make the right decisions for the greater good of this community. It is my job to educate myself to their findings and support their position. In my opinion if I cannot trust them to do all of that, then I have failed as their leader. I would educate myself further, follow their lead since this would be their field and be support to good strong decisions on the local, state and federal levels.

NB – I plan to Lobby efforts at both state and federal.

Section 3 – Meeting increasing demand

A.   Areas such as Rosedale, with very limited transit service, are trying to get additional service to meet the needs of its residents, many of which are transit dependent.  What process should exist and/or what criteria should be met in order for residents to get new or expanded transit service?

JW – I would want more info and there is not enough time for me to make myself familiar enough to make a statement in section 3.

AM – I think we have many great opportunities in Rosedale specifically to improve transit in some very creative ways.  We already have a great relationship with University of Kansas and I definitely think involving them in discussions about public transportation can help improve services for that area of WYCO.  But do not forget that there are other areas that struggle to get their fair share of public transportation like the Turner area.  Those residents tax dollars pay for that service yet they receive nothing for it at this time.  This situation needs to be addressed as well.

MH – Again, creativity.  Is there a way to add call for service?  How can we partner through KCATA and the Jo, leveraging the proximity to KCMO and Johnson County?

NB – I must gain the true picture of the needs of the residents and then act on what is needed. Convene a meeting or meetings to address these individual concerns.

 B.   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?

JW – I would want more info and there is not enough time for me to make myself familiar enough to make a statement in section 3.

AM – As to the details of the routes, we hire professional transit staff that make those decisions.  These are not made at the Commission level.  I have confidence in our staff and their ability to manage over crowding without impacting other services they provide.

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

NB – I pledge to aggressively pursue answers to address these concerns.

Section 4 – KCATA

A.   What characteristics would you look for in making appointments to the KCATA Board of Commissioners?

JW – I believe that anyone appointed to any commission should have a genuine interest in the community. Not just be there to fill a seat. I am looking for constant results from appointed commissions. If nothing is being changed. Nothing is being done, because no one is perfect and there is always room for improvement and we should be finding it by listening to the citizens. They will surely tell us the problems and maybe even how to fix it if we listen.

AM – I believe that the characteristics of the current Board members are what we need to maintain in the future.

MH – We need collaborative, regionally minded individuals who have a heart for all the benefits transit brings to the people and the environment.

NB – Knowledge of the needs and a passion for those that depend on public transportation

 B.   Unified Government currently contracts with KCATA for only 90 days at a time. This policy gives a negative impression regarding the stability of the transit system in the county.  What needs to happen to return to a full year contract like other municipalities?

JW – Committed long-term relationships based on honesty, respect and concern for the people, no exceptions. If we all care about the people that are riding on the transit including the drivers safety, comfort and health issues, there should be no room to have an issue. The bottom line is that as a business we all have to make money in order to maintain viability. But when the actual product is service and the people are the consumers of that product sometimes the measure for error and success becomes clouded by opinion, personality and politics-I think this is a mistake. I think we should set very specific service guidelines to service both the inside consumer and the outside consumer then let those perimeters establish a rock solid acceptable standard of service for us all. Including a long-term agreement with the KCATA so that the future and expectation for everyone is clear and the repercussions established, should those benchmarks not be met by either party. NO GAMES!

AM – This is a staff decision and I would need to consult with staff to better understand why we are contracting in this manner.

MH – This looks like a reasonable request.  I would need to speak with our team at the city to see why this policy is in place.

NB – An open discussion. Most commissioners are not aware of this.

 C.   Would you consider contracting with KCATA for all fixed route services? Please explain why or why not.

JW – I love the idea and we will have a Transit friendly environment and I believe that KCATA will be the organization to ensure that, that happens. However, I cannot say yes or no to this question at this time since there would have to be in my opinion an opportunity for local business to play a part…potentially managed by KCATA in the growth of transit in the area. It was the mini bus of my childhood that was a privately held company that actually brought transit back to the grasp of those of us country bumpkins that lived in the west in the early 80’s when there was no transit service available. I rode the minibus to and from school during a very specific period of my life. So…I cannot say that I would close small business access to All transit routes without looking further into what that would mean to this community and the potential of other small businesses relocating here to assist in transit service. My crystal ball is cloudy on that one, lol. Ask me again later after I do some research-my mind is always open to offer the best service possible to humanity.

AM – Again, this is a staff decision and I would need to consult with staff before making any changes.

MH – With the State and Federal spending cuts, I don’t think we can take anything off the table.  This would have serious considerations for our UG employees and I would not do anything without seeking assurances about their future.  Again, we need to be creative in how we serve the community.

NB – Once all of the information is presented to the Unified Government I would review the pros and cons of the issue and make a decision. I do believe that the current bus system in Wyandotte County should play some part in that system.

Section 5 – Creating a transit-friendly environment

What non-financial actions can be taken to create a more transit-friendly environment in

1.    Kansas City, Kansas?

MH – We are looking at residential developments in and around the new 7th street transit center downtown.  The more we can foster “transit friendly” development and encourage growth nearby, the better.  We are also looking for a major redevelopment at Indian Springs around the new transit center there.  I think the strategic location of this center automatically makes Indian Springs a new kind of destination.

NB – Regular updates to the powers that be.

 2.    Village West?

MH – Coordinating routes with businesses and restaurants to make sure the buses are running at the right times for opening and closing.  This makes the use of transit a more organic, and less onerous option for the employee.

NB-Make the case for why they should be a part of the discussions and the solution.

KCK and Village West

JW – Retraining in proper customer service and the emphasis on positive outcomes for the customers experience while in transit care. Service is a product. It must be fine tuned constantly to ensure good relationships and long-term viability of business ventures. Especially when the effects are of detriment to healthy lifestyles and a healthy planet. Many times the bus driver will be the only connection to the welfare of some riders. They need to be empowered to be safe consumers of their own product but have the authority to demand change to benefit the entire experience. I think answering the needs of the drivers, mechanics and service vendors of the buses will alleviate stressors that can cause frustration with a frustrated public.

AM – I currently use our transit system on occasion and I find it to be a very friendly environment.  However, I am sure there are always ways to improve and in order to know how to create a “more” friendly environment we need to ask the people using the current system on a regular basis.

Complete transcript:WYCOKCK transit forum for candidates 2013

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