Transit Action Network (TAN)

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

Archive for the ‘Regional Transit Issue’ Category

Missouri May Put 1-cent Transportation Tax On The Ballot

Posted by Transit Action Network on February 18, 2013


Missouri recently introduced legislation, which would radically change the way the state collects and spends transportation funds. It could have a major impact on the prospects for transit, at least in the two major urban areas in the state.

The Proposal, Major Points:

  1. The legislation authorizes a state-wide 1-cent sales tax for ten years dedicated to transportation and subject to voter approval. [Polling indicated no support for an increase in the fuel tax. In fact the legislation and ballot measure would freeze the fuel tax at the present level for the ten-year period.]
  2. The sales tax will generate about $7.9 B over the ten-year period. 10% will be taken off the top and split evenly between cities (5%) and counties (5%) for new funds of about $79MM annually. This would represent about a 30% increase over current receipts from the fuel tax alone. $1.1B of the tax would be dedicated to rebuilding and adding a lane in each direction to I-70 between Independence and Wentzville.
  3. After funding Federal matches, MoDot would be left with about $5.5 B over the ten years. This would be distributed to each of the MoDot regions. The Kansas City Urban Region, essentially MARC’s boundaries, would be in line for $933MM over the period in NEW transportation funding.
  4. Cities, Counties and MoDot regions (MPO’s in urban areas) would have complete autonomy in how these funds are spent. There is no set aside for any particular mode (except for rebuilding I-70). In theory this is NOT a highway bill, but it will depend on the project selection process.

MOstateflagIs This for Real? How likely is it that the proposed legislation will get passed and approved by voters? We don’t know, but here is current data as of February 8. In the General Assembly the legislation had attracted 18 co-sponsors; a good indication of likely passage. Initial hearings are scheduled for the 19th and 20th of this month. The people we spoke to at MoDot were divided with one person calling passage a slam dunk and the other less sure. The legislation would simply allow a public vote on the proposal so how likely is the measure to win at the polls? Polling done in December of 2012 related to transportation needs showed that 52% of likely voters would approve the measure. This rises to 54% if MoDot proposes a specific list of projects – hence MoDot’s “listening sessions.” The legislature and Governor are constitutionally prohibited from using the funds for anything other than transportation. It is generally believed by professional campaign organizers that 54% is not a healthy margin of support, so a positive outcome at the polls is most certainly not assured; but, nevertheless possibly within reach. Some people feel these percentages are optimistic when general state needs are considered rather than just transportation needs.

Action Needed There are two ways transit advocates and organizations need to be involved over the coming months:MOTM

1. The legislation is by no means fully baked so there is an opportunity to shape it (maybe “tweak” is a better word) to transit constituents’ benefit.

There are still many issues yet to be determined by the legislation. These include, among others, whether these funds can cover operations or whether they are exclusively for infrastructure development and how decisions are to be made about projects, which run through multiple MoDot regions such as the Amtrak route.

A concern for transit advocates is that “tweaking” of the legislation over the next couple of months might result in restrictions on the use of funds for non-highway modes. It will be important for transit advocates to stay informed about the legislation as it makes its way through the legislative process.

2. MoDot will hold “listening sessions” around the state to update the “Missouri On The Move” (MOTM) long-range plan. The report from the listening sessions will not be done in time to inform the project listing for the general assembly. The listening sessions are for the MoDot’s long-range transportation plan, not necessarily for the project list related to this possible legislation. We expect MoDot districts will make up the lists for the legislation with MPO/RPC input if they assert themselves.

The Kansas City area listening sessions are scheduled for March 12-13-14, locations to be determined. Transit advocates, in concert with MARC, transit agencies, and local and county governments should set priorities and be at the table along with highway interests for these sessions. Getting projects on the list is crucial. In the event voters pass the proposal, however it’s prospects may seem today, that list will represent the State’s transportation plan for the next ten years and be difficult to amend.

Areas to ponder:

This proposal represents a shift in the state from user fees to dedicated sales tax revenue for new transportation funds.

At this point, there is no pot of money reserved for transit and passenger rail.

Gasoline is exempt from the sales tax, while current gas tax is among the lowest in the country – #45.

Sales tax is often used as a revenue stream for cities and counties and a state sales tax would impact the ability of local municipalities to pass local sales tax initiatives.

There is a prohibition against tolling.

Rural I-70 would be funded statewide but urban portions have to be funded from district allocations.

Upcoming meetings:

The first legislative committee hearings in Jefferson City on the 1-cent sales tax for transportation funding:

Tuesday, Feb. 19 at 12:00 pm to 2pm in House Hearing Room 7

Sen. Schatz (chair of the House Transportation Committee) scheduled a full committee hearing on HJR 23, sponsored by Rep. Dave Hinson.

Wednesday, Feb. 20 at 8:00 am to 10 am in Senate Hearing Room 1

Sen. Kehoe (chair of the Senate Transportation Committee) scheduled a full committee hearing on his bill, SJR 16.

Contact the offices of Rep. Dave Hinson (573) 751-0549, and/or Sen. Mike Kehoe (573) 751-2076 if you want to attend and/or testify on the bills

Transportation Funding Proposals can be found at the links below:

http://www.house.mo.gov/billsummary.aspx?bill=HJR23&year=2013&code=R
http://www.senate.mo.gov/13info/BTS_Web/Bill.aspx?SessionType=R&BillID=17866209

MOTM meetings:

Chief Engineer Dave Nichols (number 2 man at MoDOT) will make a presentation on MOTM at the Total Transportation Policy Committee (TTPC) Tuesday, February 19 at 9:30 at MARC.

Modot MOTM listening events – Per MoDot, Kansas City meetings are March 12-13-14, locations not determined yet

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

More information is available at: http://www.modot.org/documents/PROPOSALforTRANSPORTATIONFUTURE1-18-13.pdf

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Time To Sign Up – National Smart Growth Conference with a Kansas City Flavor – Feb 7-9

Posted by Transit Action Network on January 2, 2013


NPSG logo

 New Partners Conference

This year, the New Partners Conference makes its way to America’s heartland—Kansas City, Missouri.

New Partners says “Smart-growth development – compact, walkable, and diverse – is attractive to developers, investors, local governments and communities because it offers new opportunities for economic growth that’s also environmentally sustainable. The 2013 New Partners for Smart Growth Conference offers lots of opportunities to learn about smart growth and economic success.”

The 12th annual New Partners conference will explore practical strategies for identifying and overcoming barriers to more sustainable development in the Midwest and the rest of the nation.

The three-day conference program will include more than 90 sessions and close to 400 speakers. The multidisciplinary program includes breakout sessions, workshops and training sessions.  It  features cutting-edge policies and programs, projects, and best practices, as well as strategies and implementation tools that address the challenges of implementing smart growth development principles.

15 optional tours of local model projects

Don’t just talk about smart growth – come to the conference and see it! Beyond the great sessions, New Partners also offers 15 optional tours of local model projects on Thursday morning and afternoon and Sunday morning (Feb 10th) .

On Thursday morning, Feb 7th, KCATA, the FTA, and Transit Action Network present:

Tour 3–Kansas City’s Low-Cost/ High-Benefit BRT – The MAX

MAX brt

Full  Tour List
  • Tour1–Kansas City, Kansas:Melting Pot in“The Dotte”
  • Tour2–What 1893 KC Can Tell Us about Our American Cities Today
  • Tour3–Kansas City’s Low-Cost/ High-Benefit BRT – The MAX
  • Tour4–A Look at Marlborough: A Community Focused on Holistic Solutions
  • Tour5–Green Impact Zone:A Model of  Concentrated Capacity Building
  • Tour6–Global Trade and Local Community: A Tour of Argentine Neighborhoods
  • Tour 7–First Suburban Redevelopment Strategies in the Kansas City Metro
  • Tour8–Development Tools…Historic Preservation, the Arts and Infrastructure
  • Tour9–18th & Vine Jazz District:A Walk through the Past into the Future
  • Tour10–Rain to Recreation:Lenexa’s Strategy for Stormwater Management
  • Tour11–Kansas City Municipal Farm:Urban Agriculture and Sustainable Transformation
  • Tour12–KC Regional Solar Installations
  • Tour13–Kansas City Walk Audit with Walkability Guru Dan Burden
  • Tour14–Smart Growth Can Be Fun:City Market, Food Trucks, Power & Light District, Crossroads
  • Tour15–Distributing Local, Good Food: The Good Natured Family Farms Experience

Local Sessions

­   Regional Equity Network
   Scenario Planning Tools (combines local Envision Tomorrow examples with examples from other regions)
­   How Midwest Cities Use EECBG (includes Dennis Murphy of KCMO)
­   Good Movement (includes KC examples as well as examples from other parts of the country)
­   Managing school closings (includes KCMO as well as other communities outside the metro area)

There are also a number of Midwest sessions that do not necessarily involve the KC region.

Special Features of the Conference

  • Technology Fair: An Interactive Demonstration of Public Engagement Tools for Smart Planning
  • New Partners Takes the “Parklet” Indoors!
  • The Doctor Is In – the Midwest: EPA’s Smart Growth Prescriptions to Create Sustainable Communities

Sessions will be at the Kansas City Convention Center, with guest rooms across the street at the Marriott Kansas City Downtown Hotel.

Come join us in this process by making your reservation to attend, today!

Conference Brochure

Conference Website & Registration

Registration Deadline: The registration deadline is Friday, January 18, 2013. Registrations will be accepted after this date if space is available, and a $50 late fee will apply. All walk-ins will also include a $35 “walk in” fee (in addition to the late fee).

The official hotel room rate for the group is $119 (single/double) until January 14, 2013 at 5:00pm CDT. After that date, the group rate is subject to availability and is not guaranteed.

PRE-CONFERENCE Wednesday Workshop

Sustainable Neighborhoods, Thriving Residents: Strategies for Building Equitable Communities
■ February 6 • 1:00-6:30 p.m.

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The JO Route 556 Service Upgrade Coming in January

Posted by Transit Action Network on December 19, 2012


Route 556 service upgrade

The JO bus Route 556 at “Universities” MAX stop

bnr_rotate_2Do you know that The JO serves the “Universities” MAX stop on Troost? Yes, and it has for a couple of years.

What’s more, service on The JO’s Route 556/856 will be upgraded beginning January 2, 2013. The new schedule will have 17 round trips per day compared to 13 at present.

Route 556/856 is precursor to the CONNEX “pre-BRT” service that The JO expects to launch as early as April of next year. The route travels the Metcalf / Shawnee Mission Parkway corridor, connecting UMKC and Rockhurst University on the north with 135th and Metcalf on the south, and traveling via the Plaza and the new Transit Hub being constructed at 5621 Johnson Drive in Mission. Beginning in January, most trips will go only as far south as Rosana Square, 119th and Metcalf.

Metcalf / Shawnee Mission Parkway is one of five major corridors in the region that received federal funding in 2010 under the TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) program. $10.7 of the $50 million grant to the Kansas City region is being used to provide transit stops and other passenger amenities, real-time arrival signs (comparable to what we see along KCATA’s MAX routes), sidewalks, and upgraded park-and-ride lots.

We have previously posted several progress reports on this corridor, including:
95th and Metcalf:
www.flickr.com/photos/58867268@N03/8024930588/
110th and Metcalf:
www.flickr.com/photos/58867268@N03/8010267924/
Mission Transit Center:
www.flickr.com/photos/58867268@N03/8167640985/

In addition, a recent video by MARC touches on several transit improvements along the route — see “TIGER Episode 6” at this webpage:
www.marc.org/tiger/

For a preview of the new 556/856 schedule see page 5 of 22 in the following document:
www.thejo.com/pdf/Rider/2013RouteSchedules.pdf

Unfortunately, ridership on Route 556/856 is still pretty low considering the level of investment being made — probably fewer than 400 riders per day. The JO needs more riders on this route.

Meanwhile, we’ll be pressing both The JO and The Metro to post Route 556/856 schedule information at key stops in Kansas City. (In response to our request, they recently posted such information at five locations in the Downtown / Crown Center Corridor:)
www.flickr.com/photos/58867268@N03/8067854354/

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Jackson County AA Study Team Will Reveal Recommendations Tomorrow

Posted by Transit Action Network on November 26, 2012


Tomorrow, November 27, consultant recommendations from the Jackson County Commuter Corridors Alternatives Analysis will be presented to stakeholders in the morning, and to the public that afternoon.

 Transit consultant Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB), guided by Mid-America Regional Council, Jackson County, Kansas City, and Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, has been studying commuter needs in three corridors for nearly three years.  Work on the I-70 and Rock Island corridors is about complete, while work on the third corridor, US-71, got started late and is farther behind.

Here’s what we expect tomorrow:

[1] – Commuter rail is in.  Commuter rail will be recommended in the I-70 corridor since the underlying motivation for the AA was to find a way to make commuter rail workable.

[2] – Union Station is out.  Union Station is out and Third and Grand is back in as the western terminus for commuter rail from eastern Jackson County. This is the site of the current KCATA park-and-ride lot and the end of the MAX and future Downtown Streetcar lines.  Jackson County tried to work with Kansas City Terminal Railway to get access to Union Station, but latest indications are that KCT has not been interested in a capacity analysis on their tracks to see if it could be made to work — not even if Jackson County pays for the study.  Union Station has been the preferred terminus from the beginning, so we expect to hear that some day commuter rail might go there.  Realistically, that isn’t likely if hundreds of millions of dollars are spent going to Third and Grand.

 [3] – No CEI.  We had anticipated that the study would include a Cost-Effectiveness Index (CEI) for each rail corridor.  However, indications are that it won’t.  The CEI is a standard measure of costs and benefits (and thus of relative merit) used by the Federal Transit Administration in evaluating projects that compete for federal funding.  Omission of this measure is disappointing in light of the emphasis PB’s Shawn Dikes put on it at the first stakeholder meeting.  A rule of thumb in transit studies is that following FTA procedures is a good indication of whether a project makes sense – whether FTA funding is to be sought or not.

We suspect the Study Team knows without doing the calculations that commuter rail in this corridor isn’t cost-effective by FTA standards, and just doesn’t want to release unfavorable information – even though more than $1.2 million has been spent on the study.  Our preference is to have the CEI as an objective comparison to recent commuter rail projects in other cities, and to thus have a better-informed electorate.  Thus, we’re disappointed that PB hasn’t stayed true to its original focus on the importance of the CEI number.

 [4] – There is political and popular support for transit.  Unlike in 2007, there is political will to take a transit and trails package to the voters, even if we have to pay locally for most of any rail proposal.  The AA might not support federal funding for rail, but people do a lot of things subjectively, and there’s a widely held perception that the Kansas City Region should have rail.  Commuter rail might still be five years or more away – detailed environmental studies related to impacts on Kessler Park plus construction will take time.

 [5] – The Package.  We don’t expect to find out much tomorrow about the comprehensive package Jackson County will ultimately take to the voters late next year, but it’s safe to say it will include something for everyone:

  • One line for commuter rail.
  • A hefty trails plan that includes the old Rock Island right-of-way as a connection to the cross-state Katy Trail.
  • Upgraded express bus service with more frequent peak hour trips, plus at least a few midday trips.
  • New transit routes to connect the various cities, especially in Eastern Jackson County.
  • Something significant for Kansas City.  The city already pays for the region’s highest level of transit service, including two popular BRT routes, a Downtown Streetcar line expected to begin construction in 2013, and more than a dozen routes that operate 7 days a week.  Jackson County has been talking about BRT on Prospect, and we’re interested to see what else the County has planned to entice KCMO residents.

Tuesday is the day to watch.  The Stakeholder Advisory Panel will meet at MARC at 8:00 am to hear and respond to the recommendations for the corridors, followed by the Open House for the public at 140 Walnut in River Market between 4:00 and 6:00 pm.

So there you have it – what we think we know.  We’re willing to be proven wrong, of course.  But we can promise you one thing:  It’s going to be One Interesting Tuesday.

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Jackson County Transit Studies Open House Nov. 27

Posted by Transit Action Network on November 21, 2012


Click to Enlarge

Join us at the last open house for the  Jackson County Commuter Corridors Alternatives Analysis, which covers the  I-70 and Rock Island Corridors. The last Stakeholder Advisory Panel meeting is being held the morning of Nov. 27 and this public gathering is on the same evening.  Learn about the final recommendations being made toward determining an LPA, “Locally Preferred Alternative”  and provide your input for the Partnership Team.

Where: River Market Event Place
            140 Walnut Street, Kansas City, MO
When: Anytime between 4 pm and 6 pm on Nov 27, 2012

This open house provides information on all three corridors being studied; I-70, Rock Island and US 71. The US 71 Transit Study is ongoing.

There will be prizes and giveaways, too!

TAN advocates Janet Rogers and Mark McDowell have enjoyed serving on the JCCC AA Stakeholder Advisory Panel and they continue to serve on the Stakeholder Advisory Panel for the  US 71 Transit Study.

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Sanders Renews Commitment to Public Transit

Posted by Transit Action Network on November 5, 2012


County Executive Mike Sanders left it until the end in his annual State of the County Address last Friday, but he left no doubt that he’s still committed to public transit.

Speaking to a standing room only crowd in the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Board Room at Union Station, Sanders spoke with pride of guiding principles for his administration, one of which is that we don’t borrow from the promise of the future to meet the needs of today.  Jackson County balanced the budget without raising taxes, he said, and is one of only six Missouri counties with a Double-A bond rating.

In introducing Sanders, Kansas City Mayor Sly James spoke optimistically of the election currently underway to fund a Downtown Streetcar.  Construction begins next year, James said, with fare-free operation beginning in 2015.  Though he didn’t say so explicitly, the Streetcar project might not be underway at all were it not for Sanders’ leadership on regional transit.

An introductory video emphasized the close working relationships between Jackson County and the mayors of the county’s principal municipalities.  Transit, specifically plans for a comprehensive regional transit system, was cited as one of the areas of common agreement.

Sanders invoked inspiring imagery a number of times during his speech.  We face new and serious challenges, he said, but America was built on courage and imagination, not fear.

Sanders spoke of expansion of the existing County trail system, and said extension of that system into Kansas City would begin next year with strong support from Kansas City Councilwoman Cindy Circo.

Finally he got to transit.

We meet in an iconic structure, he said, one that illustrates the power of transportation to connect us.  No initiative has the potential to shape our future more than to build a modern, efficient public transit system.  Sanders compared building a comprehensive transit system in Jackson County to the Interstate Highway System that President Dwight D. Eisenhower launched in 1955.

Such a system is needed to meet Jackson County’s transportation needs, he said, and it must be our next great enterprise to build a system of rail, buses, and trails so future generations will have greater choice in how they get around.  Young people want and demand rail and other public transit options.

Sanders also cited a recent Brookings Institution report that ranked Kansas City 94th out of 100 urban areas in its ability to provide its citizens access to jobs and other opportunities by transit.

The process of constructing a World Class public transit system is complicated, Sanders said — an obvious reference to current discussions with the freight railroads over use of their tracks for getting commuter trains to Union Station.

We need to invest the time it takes to plan a great system, he said.  It’s not about getting transit done fast, it’s about getting it done right.

Through an unprecedented collaboration, Jackson County Mayors are in agreement, and are speaking with one voice.  A solution on transit is within reach, and it’s clear that Mike Sanders’ commitment is still there.

On reflection, it seems notable that Sanders did not make any specific reference to commuter rail.  Nor did he mention a possible target date for submitting a Trails and Transit funding measure to the voters, perhaps because there are a lot of details yet to be worked out.  (See our blog post, Jackson County Transit Studies Update – Our Current Assessment)  Speaking with reporters afterward, he mentioned August or November next year as possible dates.  That’s consistent with information we’ve had for several months.

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KCATA Route 175 on Metcalf Avenue?

Posted by Transit Action Network on October 24, 2012


Metro Route 175

Transit Trivia: How many places along Metcalf Avenue can you find a posted bus schedule?

Did you know that KCATA (The Metro) operates a route deep into Johnson County? Route 175 has six daily round trips that go south from Ward Parkway Shopping Center (88th and State Line) along State Line, 95th Street, and Metcalf to the Sprint Campus, Menorah Hospital, and St. Luke’s South Hospital. There are about 80 riders daily. (One person making a round trip counts as two riders.)

In this view, the second northbound afternoon Route 175 trip stops to board another rider (plus your humble snapshot taker) at the southeast corner of 95th and Metcalf.

Note the bus stop sign, and the frame for the bus schedule below it on the light pole. This schedule, along with one across the street on the southwest corner of the intersection, are the only places we know of where one can find a bus schedule posted along Metcalf.

That’s the answer to the trivia question: TWO.

What irony that the only bus schedule along Metcalf — the street that’s being prepared for Johnson County’s “Connex” service next spring — is provided by KCATA, and it’s only about their Route 175.

Oh — about all that dirt: This is the site of one of the new Connex bus stops. It’ll have a shelter and a digital sign that’ll tell you when the next bus arrives. Off to the left is the Metcalf South Shopping Center. The JO’s park-and-ride lot will be relocated to this corner from its current location on the east side of the shopping center next to the Glenwood Arts Theater. Another Connex stop and shelter will be constructed on the west side of Metcalf, just south of 95th Street.

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Jackson County Transit Studies Update – Our Current Assessment

Posted by Transit Action Network on October 15, 2012


There was no surprise when Jackson County announced that it would not put a transit tax measure on the ballot this November. There are still too many unknowns, and a comprehensive package will take more time to develop. Better to do this right than fast.

One of the big unknowns is location of a downtown terminus for commuter rail. The Jackson County Commuter Corridors Alternatives Analysis for the I-70 and Rock Island corridors, which has been underway  for over a year, is currently on hold. The County would like to move the downtown terminus from Third and Grand, the option presented to the public in April, to Union Station. That’s good, because nearly everyone really wants commuter trains to go there, and that’s the location identified for commuter rail in Kansas City’s comprehensive plan, FOCUS.

The sticking point has been getting the Kansas City Terminal Railway to agree to allow commuter trains on their tracks.  These are the tracks that Amtrak trains already use.  Once the Terminal (and its owners, primarily the Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Union Pacific) agree they are open to that possibility, a capacity analysis will have to be done to determine if commuter trains can be sandwiched in among all the freight and Amtrak trains.

Actually, it’s a little more complicated than that: whereas there’s some flexibility in freight train schedules, frequent delays for a commuter train could lead to loss of riders and failure of the whole commuter rail endeavor, so the railroads would have to commit to a pretty exacting schedule for the commuter trains.  As of this writing, a capacity analysis has not yet been done.

For commuter rail into Union Station to work, the railroads have to:

  • agree in principle that commuter trains on their tracks would be OK
  • complete a capacity analysis to determine that it’s feasible, and
  • develop detailed cost estimates.

Meanwhile, Jackson County continues to work on more-detailed cost estimates for getting trains to a terminal at Third and Grand.

While that’s going on, the US 71 Corridor Transit Study is proceeding in the first phase of its evaluation process.

In addition to studying the I-70, Rock Island, and US 71 corridors to identify a locally preferred alternative in each, Jackson County is fleshing out the rest of a county-wide transit and trails plan to take to the voters. 

That plan would:

  1. Fill in many of the bus transit needs in the county. All rail systems need a robust bus system to support them and Jackson County doesn’t have that outside of Kansas City, Missouri. MARC’s Smart Moves transit concept is the basis for filling in the missing transit links in the county, and Transit Action Network advocates Janet Rogers and Ron McLinden are working with a team that includes Jackson County, Kansas City, KCATA, and consultants to help define the transit part of the package.
  2. Develop a plan to connect and complete a Jackson County trails system. No longer would there be “trails to nowhere,” but “trails to everywhere.” The County has been working with trail and bike advocates, using MARC’s MetroGreen plan as the basis for the trails component.

Assuming voters approved a one-cent sales tax  — nobody at the County will verify that this is the target amount — that would raise only about $80 million per year. Given that limitation, the County will have to make some tough choices because they can’t afford to do everything that’s currently being considered.

Right now we consider the following as likely components of a trails and transit package to be submitted to the voters:

  • Probably one commuter rail line using the Kansas City Southern tracks in the I-70 corridor
  • Implementation of many of the service components of the region’s Smart Moves transit plan
  • Bus Rapid Transit (MAX style service) on Prospect
  • Transit connections linking municipalities throughout the County
  • Upgraded Express Bus Services in all three major corridors (including I-70, even if commuter rail is developed in that corridor)
  • Build out of a complete network of trails as envisioned in MetroGreen.

We anticipate seeing such a package submitted to the voters sometime in 2013, though perhaps not until the second half of the year.

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Route 142 – 3rd and Grand and Zona Rosa? Check Out All the Metro Changes

Posted by Transit Action Network on September 27, 2012


Did you see the notice taped over the bus stop sign at the 3rd and Grand MAX Station? It’s evidence of good things to come. Really good things.

Beginning on Sunday, September 30, KCATA Route 142 – North Oak will change. Here’s what’s in store:
– Route 142 will operate seven days a week.
– Hours of operation will be extended into the evening.
– Buses will run more often during much of the day.
– Buses will stop at the 3rd and Grand park-and-ride lot / MAX Station for direct connections to Main Street MAX and access to Bike-Share.
– Buses will operate both north and south on Grand, making it easier to find your bus for the return trip.
– Buses will continue to go south through Crown Center to 27th and Grand.
– And finally — Ta-Dah! – Route 142 will go all the way up to Zona Rosa.

Put it all together and you have the makings of an almost guaranteed surge in ridership.

This change to Route 142 represents a significant improvement in transit service for the Northland — maybe the most significant ever!

What’s more, North Oak is one of the transit corridors in the region identified for major improvements with money from both the TIGER Grant (2009) and the more recent Creating Sustainable Places program.

What’s not to like?

Big changes are happening on the Metro this Sunday as KCATA rolls out more of the route and schedule changes resulting from the Comprehensive Service Analysis. Check out all the changes to see how they affect you.  Metro Changes.

For further information about Route 142:
Bulletin from KCATA
www.kcata.org/rider_bulletins/142-north_oak_adds_zona_ros…
New route map
www.kcata.org/images/uploads/142mwk.gif
New schedule:
www.kcata.org/images/uploads/142.pdf

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Attend Johnson County Transportation Council Meeting Sept. 18 – 5:30 pm

Posted by Transit Action Network on September 14, 2012


The Johnson County Transportation Council meeting will discuss the REVISED proposed eliminations and reductions to service, effective Jan 2, 2013.  A public comment section is on the agenda. Please attend and make your feelings known about the proposed changes. The council changed its regular meeting time in response to comments received about the service reductions. JCTC wants to hear from you.

Johnson County Transportation Council Meeting

Where: Sylvester Powell Community Center
6200 Martway in Mission
Kansas 66202
 
When: Sept 18th @ 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm

Meeting packet agenda JCTCpacket20120918

Revised Proposal for Eliminations and Reductions JCTC20120814ServiceReductionRec

Previous blog article JCT Releases Revised Proposal for Cuts – Save The JO

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Attend Forum on Transit at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church – Sunday, Sept 16 at 10am

Posted by Transit Action Network on September 14, 2012


The Sunday morning Forum at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church is well-known and respected as a great place to learn about and discuss major issues in the community.  The All Souls mission for the Forum is “to afford a platform for the discussion of significant issues, especially those which involve ethical values in the contemporary world.”

The Forum is free and open to the public. This Sunday’s presentation is:

Where Do We Go From Here?

Public transit in the KC metro area and the controversies surrounding it

by Janet Rogers, co-founder of Transit Action Network

 All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church
4501 Walnut Street
Kansas City, Mo. 64111

Forum starts at 10 a.m.

Janet will provide an overview of the current state of transit in the KC Region, the near term vision for transit including the Downtown Streetcar and the Jackson County’s comprehensive transit vision, controversies plaguing transit and a long-term perspective on where we go from here.

According to KKFI 90.1FM radio: “The All Souls Unitarian Universalist Forum, Kansas City’s longest ongoing conversation, has offered a platform for the discussion of significant issues since 1943. Guest speakers typically focus on issues of political, social justice, moral, educational and artistic significance. Each presentation is followed by questions and discussion.”

KKFI 90.1FM broadcasts the forums on Thursdays at noon.  The broadcasts are several weeks behind the actual presentation.

Forum, September 16, 10 a.m., Bragg Auditorium

Posted in Events, Local Transit Issues, Regional Transit Issue | Leave a Comment »

US 71 Transit Study – Video of Open House

Posted by Transit Action Network on September 10, 2012


The Jackson County US 71 Transit Study, an Alternatives Analysis, started in June and is the third transit corridor to be studied as the County works to complete a transit package to put before voters. Completion is scheduled for the end of the year.

There have been two Stakeholder meetings (Janet Rogers and Mark McDowell both represent TAN) and a public meeting. Until a final decision has been made for locally preferred alternatives in the three corridors, nothing can go forward.

The US 71 corridor originates in downtown Kansas City, Missouri and extends south of the downtown area, terminating in Belton, Missouri. The corridor generally parallels U.S. 71 crossing Kansas City (MO), Grandview and Belton and is being evaluated as a potential addition to the Jackson County Commuter Corridors Alternatives Analysis, a transit study that has been in progress since 2011, which consists of the I-70 corridor and the Rock Island corridor.

This corridor is very congested and portions of US 71 between 51st and 75th are particularly slow. Current transit service on U.S. 71 and parallel service on Prospect provide transit access for the area, but scheduled travel times are almost double the travel time of the automobile.

The US 71 corridor study is benefiting from the work already done in the other corridors. This study is considering Express Buses, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), streetcars and commuter rail. Just a reminder that the commuter rail is not electrified light rail. It is a diesel vehicle, Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU), which operates on existing freight lines or new tracks.

The project team, Jackson County, MARC, KCATA and Kansas City, Missouri  and the consulting team, Parsons Brinckerhoff, are all the same as the previous study.

The study is in Phase I, which provides the purpose and needs statement and does an initial evaluation of the alternatives to decide which ones will go through to Phase II.

The first two alternatives advance automatically to Phase II

1. NO Build  – do nothing plus

  • all capital improvements identified in the fiscally constrained MARC 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) that will be implemented by 2035.
  • the existing bus network augmented with the recommendations listed in the KCATA Comprehensive Service Analysis Key Corridor Network.

2. TSM (Transportation Systems Management)

Everything in No Build plus

  • capital improvements and bus network enhancements.
  • an expansion of KC Scout Intelligent Transportation Systems.
  • New park and ride lots
  • Capital bus enhancements on U.S. 71 (such as bus on shoulder), which will be identified and evaluated as part of Tier 2.
  • New intermodal transfer point in vicinity of Hillcrest and Bannister Road.
  • Seven U.S. 71 / Prospect BRT station pairs.
  • Extension of local bus service along Prospect to Bannister Road and Blue Ridge.
  • Extension of Express Bus service (Route #471) from current terminus Point at U.S. 71 & Red ·  Bridge Road to U.S. 71 & M-150. The extended service would serve park and ride lots at U.S.
  • 71/M-150 and at Truman Corners Shopping Center. Number of trips would be increased from 5 AM and 5 PM to 8 AM and 8 PM.

Three additional alternatives to be evaluated for advancement to Phase II

Alternative 1: Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)

  1. Two alignments are anticipated for the BRT alternative–a Commuter BRT on U.S. 71 and an Urban BRT on Prospect.
    1. US 71 Commuter BRT connects M-150 in Grandview with the 10th and Main Transit Center.
    2. Prospect Urban BRT connects Bannister Road in south KC with the 10th and Main Transit Center.

Alternative 2: Enhanced Streetcar Alternative

The enhanced streetcar would serve a third phase of the KC streetcar system (phase II would be to the Plaza). The streetcar would travel on the west side of US 71 and ends at M-150. A feeder bus network would also be a part of this alignment.

We expect the streetcar alternative to be eliminated because it is so expensive and probably wouldn’t qualify for federal funds to help us pay for it. We expect the projected ridership to be too low to make the line cost-effective by FTA standards. If it is advanced to Phase II it will be because the partners want to do the cost and ridership analysis for future reference.

Alternative 3: Diesel Multiple Unit Alternative

The alignment for the DMU Commuter Service South Line runs from the Jackson County Line to Leeds Junction. South of Leeds Junction the rail travels with limited stops on KCS track to its destination near M-150 in Grandview. North of Leeds Junction, it shares a common line with the Rock Island Corridor alternative, and farther north those lines combine with the I-70 corridor into downtown.  The two possible alignments for the DMU Commuter Service Common Line into downtown run from:

a. Leeds Junction to the River Market

b. Leeds Junction to Union Station via the Trench

The DMU alignment crosses nearly 80 bridge structures. About 20 of those would require improvement of some kind, up to and including replacement.

The stations along this alignment are limited due to various complications, including physical challenges and the lack of population and employment density.

The U.S 71 corridor has a large low-income population. The ability to provide improved access to work opportunities is an important goal of the enhanced transit system.

There will be additional public involvement as the study progresses.

US71 – combined alternatives – Click to Enlarge

US71 – BRT -Click to Enlarge

US71 – Streetcar- Click to Enlarge

US71 – DMU – Click to Enlarge

For more detail, review the information from the public open house materials and fill out the comment form.

http://www.kcsmartmoves.org/projects/us71transitstudy-openhouse1.aspx

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JCT Releases Revised Proposal for Cuts – Save The JO

Posted by Transit Action Network on August 28, 2012


Johnson County Transit (JCT) has released a Revised JCT Service Reductions Aug 14,2012 report for eliminations and reductions to its transit system.

Summary of the revised proposal:

Eliminate five routes (instead of nine)
Reduce/combine service on the four other routes that were proposed for elimination
Make additional schedule modifications on four other routes based on comments and service efficiencies.

Here are the original 9 routes slated for eliminations with some of our comments. Review the JCT report for additional information. Keep in mind that JCT is still reviewing the routes and could make more changes.

Routes Originally Proposed for Elimination

Three Routes Eliminated Totally
Route 676-P – Paola/Spring Hill/Olathe Eliminating this route and Route 816 will leave these communities and seniors without any transit. The Special Edition does not operate in Spring Hill and Paola.
Route 810 – DeSoto FlexRide This change will leave this community and seniors without any transit. The Special Edition does not operate in DeSoto.
Route 816 – Spring Hill Shuttle Eliminating this route and Route 676 will leave this community and seniors without any transit. The Special Edition does not operate in Spring Hill.
Eliminate 667-R and 669-I and combine with 546-D into one new route
Route 546-D – Johnson/Quivira, Route 677-R – Downtown/Olathe, Route 669-I – KCK/Lenexa/Olathe Eliminate current routes I, R and D but combine them into a new Route 546-D. The new Route 546-D would have only 9 trips instead of the current 16. The northern end would be in KCK. The southern end is usually at 116th and Renner. See the proposed map. One trip extends south to 127th & Mur-Len (Villa St. Francis) to serve 7:00-3:30 workday (currently served by Route 669/I) One trip extends to Ridgeview to serve 8:00-5:00 workday  (currently served by Route 677/R
Keep routes instead of eliminating them; make significant service reductions.
Route 66-E – Nall/Downtown – Reduce from 4 to 2 trips This reduces service between Johnson County and Wyandotte counties. This is the only JO service that goes to KU Med. Routes with only one morning and one evening trip are bound to fail. The national transit-consulting firm Nelson Nygaard recommends at least 6 trips (3 each way) to make a successful commuter route. If they must reduce service, JCT needs to consider other options in order to keep the four trips.
Route 672-M – JoCo/Downtown Midday – Keep but eliminate Metcalf portion of route The route would travel from Mission to OPM on Shawnee Mission Parkway, I-35, and US-69, instead of using Metcalf and 95th. This re-routing should save 10-15 minutes per trip. Transfers to Metcalf destinations can be made via 856 in Mission. South of Oak Park Mall, the route would remain unchanged. Downtown employees who want additional midday flexibility could take MAX to the Plaza and transfer to 856, or to Waldo and transfer to 875.
Route 812 JO Flex– Reduce from 3 days to 2 days This change is better than eliminating the route.

Transit Action Network knows that JCT is trying to combine routes and provide as much transit as possible for its current riders given the budgetary restrictions and instructions from the County Commissioners. We are also aware that unless the County makes significant budget changes, all of these routes and more may be eliminated in 2014.

click to enlarge

Below is the Commission’s transit priority list that JCT is directed to implement over the next two years as a result of a reduction in federal and state funds.

The Board of County Commissioners Transit priorities (in order of importance):

  • Protect the most vulnerable county residents by maintaining Special Edition and SWIFT services.
  • Support TIGER investments by maintaining service on the Metcalf and Shawnee Mission Parkway corridor
  • Maintain I-35 Xpress (Bus on Shoulder Routes)
  • Maintain K-10 Connector
  • Continue Local Services and Local Links

Our concern is the county’s lack of commitment to developing a full service transit system. In terms of transit, Johnson County thinks like a small city instead of a big wealthy county. Blue Springs, Missouri has a population of slightly over 50,000 people. For transit it normally considers an OATS bus for seniors and the disabled and a few commuter express buses as sufficient, although Blue Springs is  working very hard to get commuter rail. Johnson County, with a population of 544,000, has stated a position that supports a similar low level of bus transit, with one exception. They want to keep the new Metcalf/Shawnee Mission Parkway and 75th Street/Quivira CONNEX routes. So do we, but these routes need to be paid for with new county funds instead of transferring funds from the current transit system.  Johnson County accepted a $10.7 million TIGER grant from the federal government for improvements along the M/SMP corridor, and they would have to return the money if they cancelled these routes. Yet the county refuses to add new money to the transit budget to replace the three-year start up money the federal government gave them for operating expenses on these routes.

Board of Commissioners Chairman Ed Eilert complains about the cost per rider and farebox recovery ratio on some of these routes, yet he knows that the main CONNEX service has far worse performance numbers than nearly all of the regular routes they are proposing to eliminate, such as Routes 669-I, 667-E, 672-M and the JO Flex.

Routes originally proposed for elimination Example: Farebox recovery ratio
672-M 17%
669-I 15%
667-E 14%
JO Flex 11%
Major CONNEX Route – protected
556 Metcalf/Plaza 9%
856 Metcalf/Plaza Flex 7%

The disingenuous nature of the Commission’s priorities is very concerning. Providing transit for seniors is at the top of their list, yet eliminating the local service in Spring Hill, Paola and DeSoto will leave their elderly populations stranded once again, since the Special Edition bus doesn’t service those areas.

The county won’t eliminate all of the proposed routes at this point in time or they might be in violation of Title VI of the Federal Civil Rights Act. The Act says if you receive federal funds, you can’t eliminate service to minority and low-income populations in a discriminatory manner. Of the original proposed eliminations, routes 546-D – Johnson/Quivira, 667-E – Nall/ Downtown, and 669-I – KCK/Lenexa/Olathe have significant service to areas with higher percentages of minority and low-income populations. These routes would be eliminated based on the Commission’s directions to JCT.

You still have time to comment to the Commission on the changes being proposed. Final BoCC action is planned for October 18.

Contact Johnson County Board of County Commissioners

  1. Phone: 913-715-0430
  2. Email contact form: http://bocc.jocogov.org/webform/contact-us
  3. Chairman: Ed Eilert (913) 715-0500
  4. District 1: Ed Peterson  (913) 715-0431
  5. District 2: Jim Allen  (913) 715-0432
  6. District 3: David Lindstrom (913) 715-0433
  7. District 4: Jason Osterhaus (913) 715-0434
  8. District 5: Michael Ashcraft (913) 715-0435
  9. District 6: Calvin Hayden  (913) 715-0436

JCT Tentative Timeline –

• Joint JCTC/BoCC meeting on August 30, 2012, 11 am, Board of County Commission’s hearing room on the third floor of the County Administration Building in Olathe
• Present final recommendations at JCTC meeting on September 18, 2012
• Submit JCT/JCTC recommendations to BoCC on October 4, 2012.
• Agenda Review: October 11
• Final BoCC Action: October 18
• Final changes posted the week of October 22, 2012
• Changes will begin operation on January 2, 2013

The Johnson County Transportation Council (JCTC) meeting on September 18 will be held at 5:30 pm at Sylvester Powell: 6200 Martway, Mission, KS so that more people can be present to hear the presentation of the final recommendations and hear the discussion.

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Save The JO Video #7 – Seniors Speak Up

Posted by Transit Action Network on August 17, 2012


Route #812 is The JO Flex service in Overland Park. It doesn’t cover a lot of Johnson County but it is a necessity for the people who depend on it. Watch seniors at Santa Fe Towers Apartments speak about their situation and concerns about the proposed elimination of this service.

The JO flex service covers a rectangle from 75th Street on the north, Lamar on the east, 95th  Street on the south and Quivira on the west. The service is limited between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. You don’t have to qualify to ride the #812, since it is available to anyone in the service area. Two very large retirement communities are significant users of the route, Overland Towers and Santa Fe Towers Apartments.

The JO Flex is more cost-effective than the new showcase CONNEX route #556 that JCT will retain. The JO Flex has better farebox recovery, cost per rider and ridership per trip than the CONNEX route.

The County Commissioners have said elderly, disabled and low-income populations will have the Special Edition, which is a shared ride program, providing transportation for registered and qualified residents of Johnson County. Usually you can’t call the day before to schedule a ride because the service is already full. The Special Edition only uses buses with a capacity of 10-12 people, where the JO Flex uses larger more comfortable buses. The JO Flex fare is $1, so a trip to the grocery store is $2. The Special Edition fare is $5, so the same trip would cost $10. Switching all of The JO Flex riders over to the more expensive, smaller, over-crowded Special Edition seems like a losing proposition.

Please keep the more affordable Route #812 JO Flex.

Contact Johnson County Board of County Commissioners

  1. Phone: 913-715-0430
  2. Email contact form: http://bocc.jocogov.org/webform/contact-us

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All About Smog – One More Reason to Save the JO

Posted by Transit Action Network on August 14, 2012


This is a Missouri Dept. of Natural Resources photo from August 13, 2012 from Blue Ridge Mall looking at downtown Kansas City. The KCPT tower, right-middle of the photo, is 3 miles away and the downtown skyline is 8 miles away. On a bad day, you can’t see the tower and on a really bad day even the skyline disappears from view. So what is smog?

The term “smog” was coined at the turn of the century to describe the hazy horizon of industrialized European cities, but around the 1950s, vehicle emissions began to take the place of factories in creating this noxious mixture of “smoke” and “fog”. Smog is a haze we see today during our hot and humid summers. This combination of ground-level ozone, nitrogen dioxide, hydrocarbons and dust particles is monitored regularly and regulated by the US EPA due to increasing health concerns for sensitive populations like children, the elderly and people with allergies or asthma.

In Kansas City, emergency room visits and hospital admissions increase significantly when ground-level ozone concentrations are high. Ground-level ozone irritates the eyes and nose, causes inflammation, difficulty breathing and even chest pain. It is formed by emissions from vehicles, power plants and other sources mixing with heat and sunlight, which is why summer is the most troublesome for air quality. Poor air quality knows no political boundaries, though, and smog will often creep northward with the warm, south winds of summer.

There is something we can all do to help. With daily work commutes averaging around 20 miles, multiple highway corridors, and abundant parking, it’s easy to see why so many folks in the Kansas City area drive to work. It’s also easy to see how our routines are contributing nearly half of the ozone forming emissions that contribute to poor air quality. Leaving your car at home even twice a week can save over 270 pounds of harmful ozone-forming emissions.

The MidAmerica Regional Council’s RideShare Connection is hosting the Green Commute Challenge now through September 28th to help raise awareness of air quality issues, reduce use of single-occupant vehicles in the peak summer season, and encourage transit use across the metro area through an employer-based contest. Thirty teams have joined from across the Kansas City area and over 900 people are taking the challenge to use alternative transportation.

Between bicycling, riding the bus or carpooling to work, and walking or simply staying in for lunch, the challenge has already reduced emissions by over 250,000 pounds. That’s like taking 14,000 cars off the road for a day. During the 12-week challenge, participants track their trips online and earn points. It’s a great way to see how our individual choices can add up to big benefits and many participants are using public transportation to earn serious points for their teams.

We can all do our part for air quality and using transit is a great way to start. And you don’t have to wait for national fuel efficiency standards or alternative energy sector growth to help! Compared to other household actions, using transit can reduce emissions by more than 10 fold.  A robust public transportation system is one of the very best investments any community can make to minimize emissions and reduce greenhouse gases. Transit can’t beat bicycling or other no-emission commutes, but modern buses are often hybrids using natural gas, biodiesel and other low emission fuels. The KCATA Metro MAX has several hybrid and clean diesel vehicles and both KCATA and The JO will be adding natural gas vehicles to their fleet.

Does being a transit rider make you an air quality hero? It depends who you ask but there’s no doubt that reducing even a few solitary commuting trips in your car can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change and poor local air quality. Kansas City had 18 Ozone Alert days already in 2012, up from only 9 last year and 4 in 2010. We’ve exceeded ozone concentration standards 16 times this year and we’re setting a pace to top the last 2 years combined for quantifiable poor air quality. Poor air quality affects everyone’s health and it can make doing business more expensive as tighter regulations are enacted to meet basic national standards.

When local budgets get tight and cuts seem imminent, priorities have to be defined to guide the process, but with growing concerns about air quality and the human health impacts a very clear reality in the Kansas City metro area, you have to ask: why is public transportation not a priority in Johnson County? How can eliminating bus routes by 45% (and reducing service on another 45% of routes) serve our collective goals for air quality when it is the first, best way to reduce harmful ozone-causing emissions? We don’t believe cutting bus services voluntarily is in the best interest of Johnson County or the collective community when it comes to air quality issues or the kind of reliable public transportation system the public increasingly demands.

It’s not too late to improve air quality in Kansas City. From alternative fuel blends and hybrid vehicles to using low emissions paint in our homes and native landscaping in our yards, people across the metro are doing so much to reduce harmful greenhouse gases and ground-level ozone in our community. Using transit is one of the most effective things you can do to help ease air pollution and prevent smog from ever forming. The only question is: if you live or work in Johnson County, will you still have the transit option in 2013?

Contact Johnson County Board of County Commissioners

  1. Phone: 913-715-0430
  2. Email contact form: http://bocc.jocogov.org/webform/contact-us

http://finances.msn.com/saving-money-advice/6804691

http://www.marc.org/Environment/airQ/pdf/FAQfourpage.pdf

http://www.dnr.mo.gov/env/esp/aqm/kccam.htm

http://www.apta.com/gap/letters/2010/Pages/100728_obama.aspx

http://www.marc.org/Environment/airQ/pdf/ozonereports/O3WeeklySummary.pdf

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Streetcar Ballots Due 5 PM July 31

Posted by Transit Action Network on July 30, 2012


Get your ballots in!!! If you haven’t returned your ballot to vote on creating the Transportation Development District (TDD) for the downtown streetcar, the deadline is quickly approaching.

The ballots are due in Jackson County Courthouse by 5 pm July 31. That does NOT mean postmarked by that time. The ballots must be physically present. The election board is going to count the ballots on Aug 1.

The county had received 405 ballots as of last Thursday night. A significant number of the 555 ballots requested had not been received.

At this point, please do NOT mail your ballot.

Either:

1. hand deliver it to Jackson County Courthouse, 415 East 12th Street, Kansas City, Missouri 64106 or

2. if you need the ballot picked up, message Streetcar Neighbors on Facebook and they will pick it up and deliver the ballot for you.

If you didn’t watch our video the KC Streetcar Stroll in May, you may want to watch it now.

Posted in Action, Local Transit Issues, Rail, Regional Transit Issue | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Save The JO – Video #6 – The Solution – Interview with Steve Klika

Posted by Transit Action Network on July 27, 2012


Steve Klika, Chair of the Strategic Transit Action Recommendation Taskforce (START) spoke with Transit Action Network about the 2011 recommendations of this Taskforce. Steve has a long-term commitment to transit. He is the Johnson County representative on the KCATA Board of Commissioners and former Chair of the Johnson County Transportation Council.

Although the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners is currently struggling with its commitment to transit and the transit budget, this Taskforce provided recommendations to implement a phased-in comprehensive county-wide transit system based on the Johnson County Transit Strategic Plan. The Taskforce also provided a list of financing options. Johnson County residents developed this plan specifically for Johnson County.

The long-term transit solution for Johnson County already exists. We ask the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners to move forward with this transit plan rather than dismantling The JO over the next two years. Please begin by rejecting the proposed plan to eliminate or reduce 90% of the routes in 2013.  We believe Johnson County is moving in the wrong direction and deserves an excellent transit system on par with the rest of Johnson County services.

START_Final_Report_2011

START_Final_Discussion_2011

Strategic Plan Prelim 2011

JO Proposed Eliminations and Reductions for 2013 – Public Meeting Presentation

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

Contact Johnson County Board of County Commissioners

  1.  Phone: 913-715-0430
  2.  Email contact form: http://bocc.jocogov.org/webform/contact-us

Contact Johnson County Transit

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

See all of our articles and videos related to this issue. The articles started on June 8 with  Save The JO – Contact JOCO Commissioners and the videos are all on our TAN Videos page. Everything is also collected on our Facebook event page for Save The JO.

Posted in Local Transit Issues, Regional Transit Issue, Videos-Transit | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

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

Posted by Transit Action Network on July 26, 2012


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

Jonothan Walker, President, ATU Local 1287

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

Martin Rivarola, City of Mission

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

Rev. Bobby Love, MORE2

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

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

Joe Walker, Pastor Westwood Christian Church

Carol Guenther, JO bus rider

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

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

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

Jim Courtney, Executive Director, Mr. Goodscents Foundation

Janet Rogers, Transit Action Network

Sheila Styron, Public Policy Coordinator, The Whole Person

Ron McLinden, JO bus rider, Transit Action Network

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

Contact Johnson County Board of County Commissioners

  1. 1.    Phone: 913-715-0430
  2. 2.    Email contact form: http://bocc.jocogov.org/webform/contact-us

Contact Johnson County Transit

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

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

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

Posted in Events, Local Transit Issues, Meeting Reports, Regional Transit Issue | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Public Budget Hearing – Unified Government of Wyandotte County – July 30

Posted by Transit Action Network on July 26, 2012


Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas Departments of Budget and Community Development are holding a public budget hearing.  The purpose of this meeting is to request public comment for the upcoming Unified Government’s revised 2012 and proposed 2013 budgets.

Where: Unified Government Board of Commissioners Chambers
Lobby of the Municipal Office Building
701 N 7th St
Kansas City , KS 66101
 
When: Monday evening, July 30, 2012 at 5:00 p.m.

If you ride the buses in Wyandotte County or are a transit supporter, please attend the hearing and encourage the Commission to continue to expand and improve transit in Wyandotte County.

Posted in Action, Events, Local Transit Issues, Regional Transit Issue | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Save The JO – Videos #4 and #5 Interviews with Johnson County Commissioners

Posted by Transit Action Network on July 22, 2012


Johnson County Commissioners Eilert and Peterson spoke with Transit Action Network about the eliminations and reductions proposed for January 2013 to The JO.

The commissioners have very different views on:

  • the role of transit in Johnson County
  • how to fund transit
  • how to respond to citizens’ vision for multi-modal transportation, sustainability and a better environment
  • the County’s commitment to the working poor who need The JO to get to work

Can Johnson County afford a small commuter transit system only if it is heavily subsidized by federal and state funds? We wouldn’t expect that to be the case from one of the richest counties in America*. It is the loss of federal and state funds, and the Commission’s current failure to replace those funds, that is causing the severe budget problems that will mainly hit in 2014.

One way to deal with the loss of the federal and state money is to eliminate and reduce most of the transit routes in Johnson County over a couple of years. The other way is to get the money and keep the transit.

Everyone from JCT staff to Commissioner Eilert said they are proposing cuts in 2013 so they don’t have such large cuts in 2014.  Unless Johnson County changes direction, they aren’t done shrinking the transit system. They say they trying to ease in the cuts to lessen the negativity that would result from doing it all at once in 2014.

Timeline for eliminations and reductions:
2012 Service reductions and modifications
2013 Proposed route eliminations (45% of all routes gone) and service reductions (45% of routes modified)
2014 Expect significant additional eliminations and/or reductions based on comments by staff and Commissioner Eilert

 

Please let the Board of County Commissioners know how important The JO is by attending the public hearing. Speakers will be allowed 3 minutes.

Johnson County Board of County Commissioners Public Budget Hearing
July 23rd @ 7 pm
Johnson County Administration Building, 111 S. Cherry, Olathe, KS 66061

If you miss the meeting:

Contact Johnson County Board of County Commissioners

  1. Phone: 913-715-0430
  2. Email contact form: http://bocc.jocogov.org/webform/contact-us

 Contact Johnson County Transit

  1. E-mail: Comments@thejo.com
  2. Mail: Johnson County Transit, 1701 West 56 Highway, Olathe, Kansas 66061
  3. Phone: 913-715-8255 – record your message
Deadline for public comment is July 30, 2012.
JO Public Meeting_Proposed Eliminations and Reductions for 2013
START_Final_Report_2011
START_Final_Discussion_2011
Strategic_Plan_Prelim_2011

We have numerous blog articles about this issue starting on June 8th with  Save The JO – Contact JOCO Commissioners

All of our videos are available on our TAN Videos page.

*Wealthiest Counties in The U.S. (Per Capita Income) based upon income tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service’s Individual Master File (IMF). Johnson County is listed as #42 http://www.amerifound.com/wealthiest_counties_in_america.html

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