Transit Action Network (TAN)

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

Posts Tagged ‘JCT’

Save The JO – Video #2 Interview with Chuck Ferguson of Johnson County Transit

Posted by Transit Action Network on July 16, 2012


Chuck Ferguson is Deputy Transportation Director for Johnson County Transit. In this video Chuck explains the reasons for the proposed elimination of 9 of 20 bus routes (45% of The JO routes) and proposed modifications to another 45% of the routes. He also describes the reasoning for making so many of the cuts in 2013 instead of waiting to make the majority of the service changes in 2014 when the severe budget shortfalls are projected.  Based on the money available in the proposed 2013 budget, Johnson County Transit is proposing to make many of the service cuts a year earlier than needed.

Dismantling The JO to this extent is a budget problem not a ridership problem. Ridership is at an all time high and currently 12% higher than in 2011. If you care about the transit situation in Johnson County you must speak up.

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

If you can’t make the meeting please contact both Johnson County Transit and the Board of County Commissioners by July 30, 2012.

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 our first video and read our earlier articles for more information.  Save the JO – Video #1

Save The JO – Contact JOCO CommissionersSpeak Out Against Proposed JO Service Cuts, and Attend The Public Meetings July 9 and 11 — “Save The JO!”

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

Attend Ground Breaking Events for the CONNEX Routes – July 13 and 18

Posted by Transit Action Network on July 11, 2012


TIGER Grants  were awarded in 2010  to build transportation infrastructure improvements along major transit corridors. In Kansas City, Kansas the Minnesota/State Ave Corridor received $10.5 million, and in Johnson County the Metcalf/ Shawnee Mission Parkway Corridor received $10.7 million.

Both communities are developing pre-Bus Rapid Transit (MAX) Routes , which are branded as CONNEX.

Design work is complete and construction is starting. Ground-breaking ceremonies are scheduled for July 13th and 18th.

Unified Government Transit Connex Metro Center
Friday July 13th @ 11 am
7th and Minnesota, Kansas City, Kansas

The improvements will be made along the transit corridor that begins at the 10th & Main MetroCenter in downtown Kansas City, MO,  travels west through Downtown Kansas City, KS,  continues on Minnesota Ave., then State Ave. and ends at Village West.

For more details, maps and drawings see the UGT website.

 Johnson County Transit Connex Mission Transit Center
Wednesday , July 18 @ 8:30 am
5251 Johnson Drive (old Cap Fed site) Mission, Kansas (location correction)

JCT Ground breaking information release MSMP_Groundbreaking

The improvements will be made along the transit corridor that begins at the Rosanna Square park-and-ride, travels north on Metcalf, east on Martway and then generally continues on Johnson Drive and Shawnee Mission Parkway into Kansas City, MO.

For more details, maps and drawings see the JCT project website and the Overland Park project website.

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

Save The JO — Video #1 Interview with JO Rider Henry Fortunato

Posted by Transit Action Network on July 9, 2012


Transit Action Network plans to produce several videos related to the Johnson County Transit proposed service reductions and modifications for January 2013. This video is the first in our series. Henry Fortunato, Director of Public Affairs for the Kansas City Public Library and a JO rider, discusses his personal views and concerns about the situation. (This is not the stated position of the Kansas City Public Library)

Please contact Johnson County Transit and the County Commissioners to stop these “voluntary cuts”.  See our previous articles for more information. Save The JO – Contact JOCO CommissionersSpeak Out Against Proposed JO Service Cuts, and Attend The Public Meetings July 9 and 11 — “Save The JO!”

Join our Facebook event page “Save The JO” to discuss what is happening and share your actions and ideas. On the event page you will already see comments about riders losing the ability to get to work and the artwork from children of the Westwood Christian Church in Johnson County who drew pictures to remind the adults to make calls to Save The JO. Have a look. Get involved!

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

Attend The Public Meetings July 9 and 11 — “Save The JO!”

Posted by Transit Action Network on July 8, 2012


Please remember to attend this weeks public meetings with Johnson County Transit (JCT) regarding the severe service eliminations and reductions proposed for January 2013. The final decision on service reductions will be made the beginning of August. You can’t wait to object.

Johnson County has 20 transit routes. They are proposing to eliminate 8 routes and make service modifications to 9 routes.

This issue is important to all JO riders. Your route could be in the next round of cuts.

  • The Board of County Commissioners Transit priority order is:
    1. Protecting the most vulnerable county residents by holding harmless both the Special Edition and SWIFT services;
    2. Supporting the TIGER investments along the Metcalf Avenue and Shawnee Mission Parkway corridors by maintaining the Connex service;
    3. I-35 Xpress;
    4. Supporting the K-10 Connector, an express commuter service between Lawrence and Overland Park; and
    5. Supporting Local Link services operating within specific Johnson County cities.

No other routes are safe.

Read our previous posts. Save The JO – Contact JOCO Commissioners and Speak Out Against Proposed JO Service Cuts

Attend Public Hearings held by Johnson County Transit

a.    DATES and TIMES:

  • Monday July 9, 2012, 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.
  • Wednesday July 11, 2012, 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

b.    LOCATION: Sylvester Powell Community Center at 6200 Martway in Mission, Kansas. (both hearings)

If you can’t make one of the meetings this week, please contact both Johnson County Transit and the Board of County Commissioners to express your displeasure about the service cuts. If they don’t hear from people, they assume it doesn’t matter if the routes are cut.

Comments to JCT on proposed changes can be made via e-mail, phone, mail

  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

Comments for the Board of Commissioners can be made at 913-715-0430 or email the county using the county contact form and choose the category ALL in order to send your message to the whole Board of County Commissioners.

Later in the month: Please Attend the Final FY 2013 Budget public meeting with the Board of County Commissioners

Budgetary issues are the reason for the proposed service reductions.

a. DATE and TIME:  Monday July 23, 2012 at 7:00 p.m

b. LOCATION: BoCC meeting room, Johnson County Administration Building, 111 S. Cherry, Olathe, KS 66061

Posted in Action, Events, Local Transit Issues | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Speak Out Against Proposed JO Service Cuts

Posted by Transit Action Network on June 19, 2012


“The proposed cuts would eliminate my ability to use the bus and without a car, I’d be entirely reliant on car pooling (to get to work). It’s very disheartening.”  — TAN advocate and JO rider when she saw the proposed cuts.

Johnson County Transit (JCT) has announced proposed service changes for 2013 (2013Change0614DRAFT). They plan to eliminate 8 routes and reduce or modify 9 other routes. There is time to save The JO. This is an  “opportunity” and “challenge” for riders to organize to both save and promote their routes, but be clear that these cuts are real and potentially permanent if they aren’t stopped.  There are public meetings with the Commissioners and Johnson County Transit but if you want to have an impact ACT NOW. Even if you don’t ride The JO but you care about transit in our region, please get involved.

1.    Contact the County Commissioners

  1. Although there are public hearings later in July, the Final Fiscal Year 2013 Budget discussions for the Commissioners are July 2-3, so contact them before that (continue to contact them after July 3rd)
  2. Tell them why The JO is important to you
  3. Ask them to make a long-term commitment to improving and expanding public transit in Johnson County
  4. Ask them to maintain, not cut, The JO service in 2013, since they are not cutting the funding in 2013
  5. Contact them at the phone numbers shown below or visit their website at http://bocc.jocogov.org/ and send an email.
  6. If you can, contact them again for a status report
Chairman: Ed Eilert (913) 715-0500
District 1: Ed Peterson  (913) 715- 0431
District 2: Jim Allen  (913) 715-0432
District 3: David Lindstrom (913) 715-0433
District 4: Jason Osterhaus (913) 715-0434
District 5: Michael Ashcraft (913) 715-0435
District 6: Calvin Hayden  (913) 715-0436
 

 2.    Use Social Media to contact both Johnson County Commissioners and JCT

  1. http://www.facebook.com/JohnsonCountyGovernment
  2. http://www.facebook.com/JoCoTheJO
  3. http://twitter.com/JohnsonCountyKS
  4. http://twitter.com/JoCoTheJO
  5. Let them know what you think about the proposed transit cuts
  6. Ask them to improve and expand public transit, not shrink it!

3.    Comments to JCT on proposed changes can be made via e-mail, phone, mail

  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

 4.    Contact your mayor or councilperson in Johnson County

  1. Tell your local officials how important The JO is to you.
  2. Ask your city officials to contact the County Commissioners and JCT to maintain, improve and expand The JO

5.    Organize your bus

  1. Sign a petition to save your bus and deliver it to Johnson County Commissioners and a copy to JCT
  2. Attend the public meetings as a group with signs and an organized presentation

6.    Write letters to the Editor of the KC Star

  1. http://www.kansascity.com/letters/
  2. Mail to The Star, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, MO. 64108.
  3. Letters can be up to 200 words

7.    Attend Public Hearings to be held by Johnson County Transit

a.    DATES and TIMES:

  • Monday July 9, 2012, 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.
  • Wednesday July 11, 2012, 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

b.    LOCATION: Sylvester Powell Community Center at 6200 Martway in Mission, Kansas. (both hearings)

  1. Ask them not to make service cuts this year, since the budget doesn’t require it. These are “voluntary” cuts at this point. Don’t make major service cuts that aren’t absolutely necessary.
  2. Ask them to do a better job advertising the service. Several routes have poor ridership because no one knows they exist. Example: Route 667 is underused. Except for the new map/schedule poster at 6000 Lamar, the only visible evidence of this route is when one of the buses goes past.

8. EXTREMELY IMPORTANT: Attend the Final FY 2013 Budget public meeting with the Board of County Commissioners

a. DATE and TIME:  Monday July 23, 2012 at 7:00 p.m

b. LOCATION: BoCC meeting room, Johnson County Administration Building, 111 S. Cherry, Olathe, KS 66061

  1. Ask them to maintain The JO service level
  2. Ask them to expand and improve transit
  3. Tell them how important The JO is to people. (Without this public input, County budget cuts will be enacted for 2014 and beyond to match the reduced service levels.)

We previously described The JO’s budget problems (Save The JO – Contact JOCO Commissioners ). The 2013 budget being proposed has enough money for JCT to basically keep current service levels. Johnson County Transit (JCT) is cutting The JO service in 2013 because they’ve been told  that the money won’t be there in future years. At this point, these service reductions are mainly “voluntary”. Once the service is cut it will be much harder to get it back. We need to convince the Commissioners that one of the richest counties in the country needs to adequately fund public transit.

It will take public outcry to budge the County Commissioners and get them to reassure JCT that they will have ongoing funding to maintain service levels. The JO cuts are in response to direction from the Commissioners about the future.

A better solution involves the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners making a commitment to transit which improves and expands The JO. At present, The JO is primarily a commuter service into downtown Kansas City, but that service needs to expand to serve jobs, shopping, entertainment, education, medical and other activities within the county. Johnson County has been highly successful at attracting jobs, but it is almost impossible to get to most of those jobs by public transit. Johnson County’s lack of transit service is the main reason our region came out 90th of 100 cities in our ability to get to jobs using public transit in a 2011 Brookings Institution Report (How Our Region Should Respond to the Brookings Report). In addition to people who currently use The JO to get to work in Downtown Kansas City, more and more of the workers in Johnson County need this service to get to work.

Proposed service cuts for January 2013.

Routes Proposed for Elimination

  • Route 546/D – Johnson-Quivira
  • Route 667/E – Nall-Downtown
  • Route 669/I – KCK-Lenexa-Olathe
  • Route 672/M – JoCo-Downtown Midday
  • Route 676/P – Paola-Spring Hill-Olathe
  • Route 677/R – Downtown-Olathe
  • Route 810 – De Soto FlexRide
  • Route 816 – Spring Hill Shuttle

Routes Proposed for Service Modification and/or Reduction

  • Route 556 – Metcalf-Plaza: Modify route timing due to Transit Signal Priority; modify the 95th & Metcalf bus stop; modify service south of 119th Street.
  • Route 575 – 75th Street-Quivira: Eliminate five trips, reduce service frequency to 60 minutes during peak hours.
  • Route 660 – Antioch-Downtown: Eliminate earliest p.m. southbound trip; extend all trips to K-7 & Santa Fe.
  • Route 661 – Olathe Xpress: Adjust 5:55 a.m. northbound trip to start at 6:00 a.m.
  • Route 664 – Metcalf-Downtown: Eliminate two trips and adjust service to operate every 30 minutes, with “reverse commute” service every 60 minutes.
  • Route 670/L – Gardner-OP Xpress: Reduce “reverse commute” service and eliminate one southbound p.m. trip.
  • Route 673/N – South OP Xpress: Eliminate last southbound p.m. trip; add early southbound p.m. trip to reduce overcrowding.
  • Route 856 – Metcalf-Plaza Flex: Eliminate midday service south of 119th Street.
  • Route 875 – 75th Street-Quivira Flex: Consolidate the schedule to reduce travel time and allow less slack time for flex trips; adjust service frequency.

Additional information from the Johnson County Transportation Council meeting packet:

  • The Connex routes are being reduced with a goal to reduce service by $400,000 to ‘stretch’ the CMAQ funds through 2013. With the relocation of Wright Business College at 103rd and Metcalf, JCT had a 13% increase in ridership on the Connex routes during the first few weeks of the school term.
  • While not listed at this time, staff is also reviewing the impact of service reductions and/or elimination of the Route 812 – JO FLEX (operating within the City of Overland Park). At this point, staff’s primary concern is that Special Edition will be severely impacted by JO FLEX riders displaced by a potential reduction or elimination of the service.

Additional important JCT dates

  • July 30 – Deadline for submitting public input
  • July 30 – August 3 – JCT staff evaluate public input and prepare final service recommendations based on the estimated/proposed FY 2013 transit budget
  • August 9 – BOCC adopts FY 2013 Budget
  • August 14 – JCT staff presents final recommendations to JCTC at Council Meeting

Please contact your commissioners!!!

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Save The JO – Contact JOCO Commissioners

Posted by Transit Action Network on June 8, 2012


Johnson County Transit, The JO, faces the very real possibility of significant budget cuts in the next few years. As a result The JO plans to begin cutting service next year. This will involve eliminating some routes and reducing frequency on others. Details should be available next week.

Please contact your Johnson County Commissioner and also Commission Chairman Ed Eilert and tell them how important The JO transit service is to you and why they should not just keep it but expand it.  Ridership increased 13% last year and has gone up over 12% since the beginning of this year. It doesn’t make sense to cut transit service in difficult economic times while ridership is increasing. Now is the time to increase transit funding, not cut it.

Contact them at the phone numbers shown below or visit the Johnson County website and send an email.

Chairman: Ed Eilert (913) 715-0500
District 1: Ed Peterson  (913) 715-0431
District 2: Jim Allen  (913) 715-0432
District 3: David Lindstrom (913) 715-0433
District 4: Jason Osterhaus (913) 715-0434
District 5: Michael Ashcraft (913) 715-0435
District 6: Calvin Hayden  (913) 715-0436

If you send an email, consider also sending a photo of the riders on your bus. Send it to us too. transactionkc@gmail.com

There has been a lot of newspaper coverage recently about the budget problems Johnson County Transit is facing. In the short-term, the County is doing the right thing by continuing the current budget levels for 2013. However, the County is not committed to maintaining this level of funding or service for the long-term, so Johnson County Transit is being given time to shrink the transit service over a couple of years beginning in 2013.

Unfortunately, many Johnson County Commissioners view commuter transit as a luxury rather than a basic public service. Other major metropolitan areas in America know that a good transit system is a necessity. While the popular image is Johnson County moves only by car, that picture is changing as the cost of driving continues to rise and Johnson County attracts more workers who need transit.

Commissioners rarely hear from the transit riders. Commuters are usually so busy with work and other responsibilities that they take the transit service for granted, expecting it to be there. However, Commissioners often feel that if you don’t speak up you must not exist and/or your needs must not be real. The Board of County Commissioners determines the transit budget for Johnson County Transit.  Decreasing the budget decreases transit service.

Johnson County Transit (JCT) and its governing board, Johnson County Transportation Council (JCTC), have worked diligently with the Commissioners and the County Manager the past couple of months to avert a 25-30% cut in service next January. Nevertheless service cuts are coming. The JO faces a multi-year budget crisis, and it reminds us that transit is not secure in Johnson County.

The JO faces budget cuts from three directions.

1.  The county initially proposed budget cuts of $700,000 from the 2012 level for 2013 – 2014. We have since been told that County support for transit will remain constant in 2013 – no county budget cuts are proposed at this point. Reductions are still in the works for future years. Therefore, JCT will start reducing service in anticipation of future budget cuts.

2.   Federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) funds and other federal grants will begin to expire in mid-2013. These grants have been used to increase service on the Metcalf / Shawnee Mission Parkway route (556/856) and to initiate the 75th Street route (575/875).  The county is allowing JCT to use its county reserve account to make up for these costs in 2013 and 2014, but it’s essential that the county pick up those costs in the future. CMAQ grants were provided as seed money contingent on a County commitment to assume the cost upon expiration.  Remind the commissioners of their commitment.

3.   A potential loss of $500,000 from the State budget has been pushed back to 2014. This potential loss is related to a re-allocation of state funds among transit agencies.*  If the State doesn’t remedy this situation, then the County should replace these funds rather than force excessive cutbacks in service.

In addition to working with the Commissioners, JCT is appealing to Lawrence Transit and KU to start paying a share of the popular 710-K-10 route.

JCT and JCTC can’t do everything though. They need riders to impress on the Commissioners the importance of transit.

Transit riders and friends of transit should attend the public hearing on the County budget on July 23rd and speak up about the need for transit. Please join us there.

Public Hearing: July 23rd at 7 PM.
Johnson County Administration Building
111 S. Cherry
Olathe, KS 66061
 

*Kansas uses a formula, which includes ridership numbers, to distribute State transit funds. Lawrence Transit started working cooperatively with the KU transit service. As a result, the KU ridership would be included in the State formula for allocation of transit funds to Lawrence Transit. It is anticipated that this large increase in ridership would result in Lawrence Transit receiving a substantially larger portion of the state funds. If this happens, it would cause a re-distribution of State transit funds away from all the other transit agencies.

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It’s Time For Regional Discussion Of Transit

Posted by Transit Action Network on May 24, 2012


Transit Action Network doesn’t usually reply to items in the press, but we think Steve Rose’s column in yesterday’s Kansas City Star warrants a response.

The column, “Talk of Regional Transit Is Just Wasted Breath,” bears reading, even though we find it quite disappointing.

“Wasted breath?” Really?Johnson County, the richest and most populous county in Kansas, could find itself without a meaningful transit system of any kind in the next couple of years, falling behind Wichita and Topeka.  Yet instead of expressing concern, Mr. Rose dredges up 30-year-old biases and frames the current transit situation as Johnson County against the City of Kansas City. That involves a misconception: KCATA was created by the two states and Congress, and is independent of Kansas City.  Lacking taxing authority of its own, it provides transit service under contract with nearly a dozen municipalities.  Kansas City happens to contract for the most service.

Describing the transit cutbacks that Johnson County seems poised to impose on its citizens, Mr. Rose writes:

Where [Johnson County Transit Director] Alice [Amrein] is unrealistic is she told me she is contemplating recommending to the county commissioners that, along with the cutbacks, it may be worthwhile to contract some routes with the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, otherwise known as the ATA.

Furthermore, Steve Klika, a member of the Johnson County Transportation Council and a representative on the ATA board, was reported in The Star [Mike Hendricks, May 13, “Deep cuts could mean drastic changes for The Jo bus system] as saying, “The only way transit is going to succeed in Kansas City is if it’s regionalized.”

These statements attributed to Ms. Amrein and Mr. Klika are not at all unreasonable. Indeed, prudence indicates that all options be explored. Mr. Rose goes on to quote Johnson County Commission Chairman Ed Eilert as saying, ““We would not turn over any funds to ATA. … Furthermore, we would not give up funding or operational control.”

Nobody is suggesting that. If KCATA were to operate (or even manage the operation of) transit routes in Johnson County it would be under a contract resulting from a competitive bidding process involving other potential transit operators.  That hardly constitutes “turning over” funds to KCATA, and it’s hardly a novel idea. In fact, the possibility of JCT once again contracting with KCATA has been under consideration for years, and KCATA has submitted bids to operate Johnson County transit routes as recently as just a couple of years ago. JCT elected to stay with its current contractor, First Transit.

Furthermore, Mr. Rose (and Mr. Eilert) might not be aware that KCATA already performs some basic transit support services under contract to Johnson County Transit.  These include operation of a Regional Transit Information Call Center and maintenance of a number of bus shelters and other facilities. The two agencies are currently working together to get basic information about The JO’s routes and schedules posted at key stops in Kansas City, and KCATA now accepts monthly passes issued by The JO on nearly all Metro routes including MAX.

Mr. Rose then quotes KCATA Board of Commissioners Chairman Robbie Makinen as saying, “I consider this a real opportunity to rekindle the seamless, regional transit discussion.”

Discussion? That makes perfect sense to us. We don’t know what Mr. Rose thinks seamless regional transit is, but we think it means transit that’s easier to understand and use.  That’s important not just in Jackson and Wyandotte counties, but even for Johnson County because thousands of people hold low-paying service jobs in Johnson County but can’t afford to live there. Others travel there to shop or pursue educational, recreational, cultural, and other opportunities.

Improving and expanding public transit service in the Kansas City region is Transit Action Network’s purpose for being. To accomplish this goal we need informed discussion of the current situation. Bringing up perceptions of how things may have been 30 years ago is simply not helpful.

Mr. Rose’s column could be just the thing that’s been needed to re-ignite serious dialog among public officials of the region to move us toward a public transit system that seamlessly serves the region’s citizens. If it does, then we’ll be among the first to say, “Thank you, Mr. Rose.”

Posted in Local Transit Issues, Regional Transit Issue | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Great Bargain for JCT Commuters and A Step Forward for Seamless Transit

Posted by Transit Action Network on March 15, 2012


Two significant transit decisions are about to be implemented.

1.  Johnson County Transit (JCT) has decided to sell its monthly pass through its website.  The reported price is $67 (plus a small service fee), and sales begin in April for a May 1, 2012 start date. The JO Store

The JO will continue to sell its monthly pass to employers for re-sale to their employees.  Employers will continue to pay $63 per pass, and they generally discount the pass to their employees.

Availability of the monthly pass will be a significant cost saving for Johnson County commuters whose employers don’t sell passes.  Such commuters currently have to pay cash fares ($2.00 each way, or $88 for a 22-workday month), or use 10-ride passes ($18.00 for 10 rides, or $79.20 for a 22-workday month).

 2.  Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) will accept the JCT monthly pass on all regular Metro buses (excluding premium-priced commuter routes). KCATA and JCT will allocate revenue from the JCT pass between themselves based on usage.  JCT monthly passes will be accepted on Metro buses beginning May 1, 2012.

Anyone can purchase the JCT monthly pass online to use on either system.

TAN advocates have worked for Seamless Transit for many years, and this development is clearly a step in the right direction.

The advantage to Johnson County residents is obvious: they can use Metro buses during the day for lunch trips or errands, or to get closer to home (e.g. to the Plaza or Waldo) before calling a family member, a friend, or a cab when they work late.  What’s more, Johnson County riders can drive to a Missouri location (such as Waldo) and use Metro buses to reach Missouri attractions on weekends.  (A free ride on a Metro bus compares favorably with a $30 parking fee for a Sprint Arena event.)

Missouri and Wyandotte County residents who also need to use The JO will have the option of purchasing the JCT monthly pass.  These riders will need to evaluate whether their savings will justify the higher up-front cost of the JCT monthly pass.  Riders who use transit only for commuting now pay $3.50 per day in cash fares ($1.50 going to work, $2.00 to return), or $77 per 22-workday month.  A rider who needs to be able to use Metro buses all week as well as commute to Johnson County currently pays $94 for a 22-workday month ($50 Metro pass plus $44 in cash fares on The JO).

Although JCT and KCATA have accepted each other’s transfers for several years, neither system has accepted the monthly bus pass of the other system until now.  The JCT monthly pass will be accepted on Metro buses but the Metro $50 monthly pass will not be accepted on JCT buses, mainly due to the large price difference. (Metro pass users may not know that they can ask for “a transfer to The JO” when they board.  KCATA normally does not issue transfers to its monthly pass users.)

The JCT monthly pass sale through their website and KCATA acceptance of the JCT monthly pass are positive steps toward Seamless Transit. Well over 500 JCT monthly pass holders will get automatic access to the extensive (7 days a week, 20 hours per day, service to five counties) Metro system at no additional cost.

Due to the large fare differential between the two systems and limited service provided by JCT, it will be interesting to track the sales numbers for the JCT monthly pass to see:

  • how many passes are sold to riders outside of Johnson County
  • what percentage of morning commuters from Kansas City to Johnson County use the JCT monthly pass (this direction is considered a reverse commute).

Transit Action Network welcomes a victory for Seamless Transit and will work to make sure that:

  • Metro riders are aware of their new option for access to The JO
  • JO riders make good use of their new access to the Metro system beginning May 1.

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

Help Protect the Transit Budget in Johnson County

Posted by Transit Action Network on January 27, 2012


TheJO

Johnson County Transit has already had several years of budget cuts.  This year it resulted in cutting service and changing routes. In the next two budgets they could lose an additional $700,000 or more in total, which would have a significant impact on riders and the level of transit service.

Johnson County is having focus groups to gain information from residents about how they would balance the budget. If you are a resident please attend the focus group in your district to voice your budget priorities. You must register to be included.

More information at Johnson County Residents to Voice Budget Priorities

To RSVP, contact Jennifer Wilding at jenwilding@consensuskc.org or 816.531.5078. With so few spaces available, they are sure to go quickly so please get in touch soon.

If you don’t get on a focus group, please contact your commissioner and tell him how important it is to improve and expand transit service in Johnson County, and ask them not to do additional budget cuts. Transit is a basic infrastructure service and in an urban setting delivering people to jobs is like delivering gas, water and electricity.  Please help secure transit funding.

Focus group dates

The meetings will run from 6 to 8 p.m. at a central site in each district.

Dates include:

District 1: Wednesday, February 15 (Commissioner Ed Peterson)

 District 2: Thursday, February 9 (Commissioner Jim Allen)

 District 3: Thursday, March 1 (Commissioner David Lindstrom)

 District 4: Monday, February 13 (Commissioner Jason Osterhaus)

 District 5: Monday, March 12 (Commissioner Michael Ashcraft)

 District 6: Wednesday, February 8 (Commissioner Calvin Hayden)

Posted in Action, Events, Local Transit Issues | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Public Workshop on Bus/Bike Route Planning – Jan 10

Posted by Transit Action Network on January 3, 2012


Bus and Bike

Need help finding your personal transportation routes combining buses and bikes? When is it better to wait for the next bus and when is it better ride?

Eric Bunch, Director of Education, at BikeWalkKC is offering a free public workshop to give you the skills and knowledge to plan your local bus/bike trips.

Google Trip Planner doesn’t allow a user to unlock the full potential of combining modes like bus and bike. The only way to know is by getting out the transit map and learning the routes.

The class will look at the regional bus routes and the MARC bike map and help each participant chart their commute or other transportation needs using these modes.

January 10, 6:00-8:00 PM
Tony Aguirre Community Center
2050 W. Pennway Terrace, KCMO

Link to the registration and information page:

http://bikewalkkc.org/civicrm/event/info?reset=1&id=107

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JCT First to Implement Bus-On-Shoulder in the KC Region

Posted by Transit Action Network on November 16, 2011


Starting January 3, 2012 Johnson County Transit will start using the shoulder on I-35 to move it’s buses pass congestion on the highway.  This Bus-On-Shoulder (BOS) strategy is used in several cities to keep buses running on schedule when traffic congestion is heavy enough to slow the highway speed below 35 mph. Minneapolis has used it for years and has 250 miles of highways usable for BOS lanes.  Chicago is starting BOS this week on I-55.

BOS is considered an innovated method to move more people efficiently using existing infrastructure. This method will be used on The JO Xpress, an enhanced bus service along I-35 linking Johnson County with downtown Kansas City, Missouri. Bus service currently runs along I-35, but this enhanced bus service will operate during the morning and evening rush hours from 95th Street to the Johnson/Wyandotte County Line.

With the current level of congestion on I-35 during rush hour JCT expects 8-10 buses a day will utilize the shoulder option. On a “normal” day buses will gain 3-5 minutes, but the real benefit comes when I-35 traffic is slowed due to incidents or weather.

For safety reasons the buses are limited to no more than 35 mph and can’t go more than 10 mph faster than traffic. Buses yield to other vehicles entering, merging or exiting through the shoulder. Of course they have to re-enter traffic when the shoulder is obstructed.

BOS has no negative effect on existing traffic, however, based on the experience in other cities it can have a positive effect on transit ridership due to improved schedule reliability.

Chuck Ferguson, Deputy Transportation Director of JCT gave this presentation about the new service to the Total Transportation Policy Committee at MARC in October. (TTPC Presentation 10-2011)

Bus on Shoulder is not a cure for congestion on the highways, but it is another tool in the transit toolbox to improve the commuting experience.

JCT is implementing The JO Xpress BOS as a result of the Commuter Corridor Alternatives Analysis completed in 2008. I-35 Fixed Guideway Corridor Alternatives Analysis Executive Summary

Review the significant summary table from that report showing projected ridership numbers and estimated cost for different alternatives.

Click to Enlarge

Read the study JCT completed in 2009 about implementing this strategy. Johnson County I-35 Fixed Guideway Phased Implementation Plan

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JCT-Public Comment on Proposed Route Changes – Nov 16 & 18

Posted by Transit Action Network on November 10, 2011


Johnson County Transit is holding two public meetings to provide an opportunity to comment on proposed service changes to The JO bus routes.

Public Meetings on the proposed changes:

Where: 6000 Lamar (Johnson County Offices) in Mission, Kansas ‐ Meeting Rooms B & C

When: Wednesday, November 16, 2011, at 6:30 p.m. and Friday, November 18, 2011 at 7:00 a.m.

These routes are proposed to be eliminated:
Route 502/O ‐ 75th Street‐Olathe
Route 671/LNLate JoCo‐Downtown
Route 680/V ‐ KCK‐Strang Line
Route 814/815 ‐ Shawnee CityRide

View all the JCT Proposed Route Changes or  visit www.thejo.com or call 913-715-8366

Interested parties can also comment by email: Comments@thejo.com

The new schedules will begin on January 3, 2012.

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JCT Results of Bus Rapid Transit Study – Open House in Overland Park – Oct. 18

Posted by Transit Action Network on October 17, 2011


New JCT bus- Will become pre-BRT CONNEX bus

Johnson County recently completed an  alternatives analysis study that recommends deploying “Bus Rapid Transit service in mixed traffic” for the Metcalf Avenue and Shawnee Mission Parkway corridor. (Metcalf/SMP October 2011 Newsletter) The bus rapid transit route will extend from 119th Street and Metcalf Avenue in Overland Park to 47th Street and Troost Avenue in Kansas City, Mo. Johnson County Transit, and the cities of Mission and Overland Park, will share the study results. The pre-BRT service will initially be “branded” as “CONNEX,” and four buses have already been purchased for this purpose.  TAN is concerned that there is no plan or firm commitment to provide the funding necessary to add service even to the Phase I level described in the October 2011 Newsletter. 

Open House

When: Oct. 18, from 5–7 p.m.

Where: Matt Ross Community Center,  8101 Marty, Overland Park, Kan.

The study evaluated the level of transit service best suited to meet transportation needs in the corridor. This transit corridor connects two states and multiple communities.   Study website  Mixed-flow lanes represent the no-cost, simplest,  most basic type of operation for bus service but they are the least effective BRT service.  According to the FTA Characteristics of BRT 2009 Update “most systems with less than 25 percent improvement (in travel time) operate on-street in mixed traffic lanes”.

New JCT bus- will be pre-BRT CONNEX line

Alternative Analysis Process for JCT - click to enlarge

The Kansas City Regional TIGER (Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery) Grant is providing $10.7 million in transit improvements along the Metcalf Avenue/Shawnee Mission Parkway corridor. These infrastructure improvements are scheduled to be complete in November 2012. JCT would not have qualified for Federal money for these types of infrastructure improvements or BRT upgrade using the FTA Very Small Starts program. To receive FTA Very Small Starts funding, like the Troost MAX received,  routes must meet several requirements including at least 3,000 riders per day.  We don’t believe that the whole JCT system averages that ridership per day. By using TIGER grant money for these infrastructure improvements, these requirements did not have to be met.

Aside from spending this federal TIGER money, what steps are Johnson County, The JO, Overland Park, and Mission taking to build ridership in this corridor? TAN understands this line currently serves fewer than 400 riders per day.

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Johnson County Transit Open House – July 19

Posted by Transit Action Network on July 18, 2011


Johnson County Transit is having an open house, to present the transit investments along  Metcalf Avenue and Shawnee Mission Parkway that are being funded by the federal government  Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Grant.

  • When: Tuesday July 19
  • When: 5 to 7 pm
  • Where: Matt Ross Community Center at 8101 Marty, Overland Park, KS 66204

Significant improvements will be made to passenger facilities in this transit corridor as well as improving the transit signal priority system.  The project will include:

  • Eighteen transit stations;
  • Two park-and-ride facilities;
  • Pedestrian access improvements along Metcalf Avenue from 87th Street to College Boulevard;
  • Pedestrian access improvements at Broadmoor and Martway;
  • A transit signal priority system, which will improve bus movement, timing and efficiency; and
  • A transit center adjacent to Mission’s downtown, to support existing transit service and future local bus service.

Representatives from Johnson County Transit (JCT), the cities of Overland Park, Mission and Roeland Park and project team members will be available to answer questions.

Open House Invitation

TAN hopes that these improvements will encourage Johnson County to devote more money to additional transit services.

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GSA and EPA Make A Bad Move

Posted by Transit Action Network on July 16, 2011


As transit advocates the hypocrisy of the local General Services Administration (GSA) and local Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to move the Region 7 EPA offices from downtown Kansas City, Kansas to a building in Lenexa, Kansas is almost unbearable.

The EPA facility is moving from a transit rich location in a city center in the middle of the region to an extreme western suburb with a deplorable level of transit service.

Keep in mind that the decisions around this move were made locally and deliberately. This move is not the decision of some bureaucrat in Washington, D.C. who doesn’t know the difference between Kansas City, KS and Kansas City, MO. The GSA office is local. They knew that leaving the current EPA facility meant they would leave downtown Kansas City, Kansas since there isn’t another qualified building for the EPA needs in that vicinity.  Deciding to stay in Kansas meant they would move to the suburbs. Although the GSA Solicitation For Offers has a “city center neighborhood” location option, this was a false choice since they eliminated that possibility by not allowing Missouri to compete. They had just failed after three years to negotiate a new lease with the only qualifying building in a city center in Kansas. Unless the bid submission for the current EPA building changed drastically from earlier negotiations, they were on their way to the suburbs.

Even if the area is stuck with this result we should complain to the heads of the GSA and EPA and tell them to get their internal house in order and instruct their employees to abide by government goals, priorities and Presidential Executive Orders. Federal facilities are supposed to be located in sustainable locations in sustainable communities. According to a government website sustainable communities are places that have a variety of housing and transportation choices with destinations close to home.

The local GSA office made the worst location decision possible.

 When the GSA couldn’t find enough qualified bidders close to the Science and Technology lab in KCK they extended the search area from the lab and limited the search to Kansas. They had to go out 20 miles to even include this Lenexa building. Google transit calculates a 20-21 mile drive to this building from the science lab.  This was the wrong decision.

It is common knowledge in this region that the EPA used to be located in Missouri. It was moved from Missouri to downtown Kansas City, Kansas apparently due to congressional pressure to help revitalize downtown KCK. (Timeline)

The GSA says they had congressional approval to extend the search distance and stay in Kansas, However, the local GSA made this determination and then submitted it to Congress for approval and received this reply, “The GSA Contracting Officer was directed to consider the expansion approved if Congress had not responded by Dec. 16, 2009. No inquiry from Congress was received.” EPA Regional Office Background April 20, 2011. So they got permission for this search area by default.

TAN believes if the rationale for being in KCK is abandoned then the reason to limit the search to Kansas is void and Missouri should have been included in the central business district search. In this case, there may not have been a need to extend the distance out to the extreme western suburbs of the region.

The federal government agrees with this position. Presidential Executive Order 13514 on Federal Leadership In Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance clearly states federal facilities should “Operate high performance sustainable buildings in sustainable locations” and ensure “that planning for new Federal facilities or new leases includes consideration of sites that are pedestrian friendly, near existing employment centers, and accessible to public transit, and emphasizes existing central cities …”

Executive Order 13514 had been in place for over a year when the GSA Solicitation For Offers (SFO) for a new location was released. Previous executive orders covering sustainability issues have been in effect since Nixon. What happened here doesn’t appear to abide by either the letter or the spirit of the Order by either the local GSA or the local EPA.

 Although the EPA didn’t make the decision to move, and they don’t contract to lease buildings for federal facilities, EPA isn’t blameless. The EPA Program For Requirements document and the GSA Solicitation ignored Executive Oder 13514 and ignored sustainable communities and sustainable locations. The EPA document even fails to list their Office for Sustainable Communities.  (EPA “Program Requirements” starts on page 83 of the Executed Lease Agreement)

GSA has added a page to its website regarding this move and its commitment to Executive Order 13514. It states “GSA has enthusiastically embraced that direction “, but cost was a bigger factor. This contains only a kernel of truth. Sustainable buildings have been enthusiastically embraced.  However the evidence shows there was no mention of sustainable communities or locations in either the GSA or EPA “Sustainability” section of their documents. They didn’t even pretend to abide by this part of the Presidential Executive Order. Of course lower bids can be obtained if major factors are left out of the solicitation.

Transit Situation

 The building at 11201 Renner Boulevard, Lenexa doesn’t qualify as a sustainable location.

 The transit situation at this location is awful. Either the buses don’t cover a long enough workday or they are too far away. If you are disabled and can’t drive or afford a $50,000 specially equipped van, you may not be able to get to work. Area ADA transit services either don’t go to Lenexa or are already overbooked. Add to this the fact that the buses are so slow hardly anyone uses them.

GSA says that less than 5% of the EPA employees use public transit. They aren’t counting all of the public transportation services. Another 75 people use the KCATA vanpool service, AdVANtage. Johnson County Transit (JCT) doesn’t have a vanpool program. So between the buses, vans and ADA public transportation services provided by KCATA and Unified Government Transit (UGT) that is closer to 100 of the 670 employees, or 15%. That is a significant number of employees who are going to lose their public transportation options.

Johnson County, where Lenexa is located, is basically a “transit desert” except for some commuter routes into downtown KCMO and the K-10 Connector to Lawrence, KS. The lack of transit service and the job sprawl in this part of the metro area are the main reasons that Kansas City rated 90 of 100 in the recent Brookings Institute report on job accessibility in the top 100 cities. JCT has no money to start new services, even though they are located in one of the richest counties in the US, but they may be able to change the routes to be closer to the facility.

Lenexa will benefit significantly if the EPA relocates there. TAN would like to see Lenexa step forward to support increased transit funding in Johnson County to improve the transit situation.

The cost issue

GSA cites the cost difference as the major reason for the choice of the new location. Of course everyone wants to save the government lots of money. However in this economic climate there is every reason to believe that a facility in Missouri, in the city center and much closer to the Science lab, could have made a comparable offer. We won’t know though since the GSA eliminated that possibility.

 Conclusion

We can’t turn back the clock and have GSA and Urban America, the owner of the current EPA building in Kansas City, Kansas, agree to a lease. Unfortunately the lease for the Lenexa building was signed April 4, 2011. (Executed Lease Agreement)

Urban America has filed an official bid protest with the General Accountability Office (GAO) Bid Protest Forum. By July 25, 2011 the GAO has to rule on whether federal procurement law was violated. The GAO bid protest process can only result in a recommendation. Since the contract has been signed even if Urban America wins the bid protest, the likely outcome would be a recommendation to pay Urban America for the cost of the bid process. (Timeline)

There is a terrible irony to moving the EPA and the Region 7 Sustainable Communities Office to this new location. How can government agencies move employees to a location that undermines what they stand for and the work they are committed to do?

TAN believes that the federal government must lead by example as stated in the Executive Order. The federal government should not add to the job-sprawl in Johnson County in direct conflict of a Presidential Executive Order, especially when there was such an obvious alternative by allowing Missouri facilities to compete.

Even if the GSA is not found guilty of breaking the law it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t complain to keep this from happening again.

Contact the EPA and GSA to let them know what you think about their actions and tell them both locally and in Washington, D.C. to implement the “Recommendations  for Sustainable Siting of Federal Facilities”.

 GSA

Washington D.C.- Administrator of the General Services Administration, Martha N. Johnson (202) 501-0800  martha.johnson@gsa.gov

Two special email addresses have been established to collect comments about this move: Washington D.C. office kc-epa@gsa.gov, Local office kansasepa@gsa.gov

EPA 

Washington D.C.- Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa P. Jackson jackson.lisap@epa.gov

Local EPA Office Phone: (913) 551-7003, Region 7 EPA Regional Administrator – Karl Brooks x7303  Brooks.Karl@epa.gov

Additional reading – Kaid Benefield’s blog http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/kbenfield/epa_region_7_we_were_just_kidd.html

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MARC Transit Committee Meeting 5/4/11

Posted by Transit Action Network on May 16, 2011


MARC Transit Committee Meeting 5/4/11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next meeting June 1

 

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