Transit Action Network (TAN)

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

Posts Tagged ‘Johnson County’

Why Eliminate Route 669?

Posted by Transit Action Network on July 17, 2012


Transit Action Network is at a loss to understand why Johnson County Transit (JCT) would propose to eliminate Route 669-I.

This route connects Kansas City, Missouri, and Kansas City, Kansas (KCK), with employment locations in Johnson County, including Southlake Business Park, Downtown Olathe, Villa St. Francis, and Lenexa City Hall.

At the beginning of this year, Route 680-V was eliminated and 669 was adjusted to serve Villa St. Francis near 127th and Strang Line as well as KCK. As a result, 669 ridership increased substantially.

KCK residents who work at Villa St. Francis wrote a letter to JCT and they have given us permission to publish it.

To: Cris Lowe – Community Relations Director – Johnson County Transit
 From: Villa St. Francis employees who ride 669I ROUTE ON A DAILY BASIS to and from our job at Villa St. Francis.

We, the employees of Villa St. Francis, wish to make our concerns known regarding the bus route cuts involving 669I that are to take place on January 2, 2013.

If you recall, last year about this time, we were again facing bus route changes.  JoCo Transit took away our job link bus that we had for approximately 14 years. Twenty of us, which by the way you have received all of our signatures in protest of the changes, paid for transportation to and from our job like everyone else.  You provided us with a quick route and we were taken care of in 20-30 minutes.  Straight down I-35 to 18th St. to Central Ave. at 16th and to 7th and Sandusky and done.  We Thank You for getting us to our destination quickly.

Then comes the so-called “Budget Cuts” and we are thrown into public transportation.  We were grateful to still have bus service.  Its been 5 months now, and we have adapted to the 4:03 [PM] pickup time [from VSF] getting us back to k.c.ks. at 5:03PM.  On days when traffic is heavy, we get to 6000 Lamar a little later and don’t have to sit there as long.  If we have a clearer run down I-35, we get to 6000 Lamar and just sit which seems like forever.  Plus, if we have to wait on other passengers, that also gets us away from 6000 Lamar later.  A lot of days we don’t get back to k.c.ks. until almost 5:10PM.

It must be said that our bus driver Ray is great.  He is the best heavy traffic driver and is so nice and patient.

Now, we are going through this again.  With riding the 669I bus, we found that there are a lot of people who ride this route.  All of us going to our jobs.  This bus is almost packed in the morning, and half that in the afternoon.  We all depend on the JoCo Transit.  It’s hard to believe that with all the people depending on the bus and riding daily that cuts are again having to be made.  People don’t have cars, but depend on transit to get them to their jobs.  People come from Missouri [Note: 669 originates at 10th and Main in Missouri] to Olathe and farther South depending on the bus to help get them there.

With the rough draft you proposed, you still have buses going back and forth from Missouri to 151st and Murlen for example.  You have to go through Kansas to get to Missouri.  Why cut our route which stops in k.c.ks.?  The 669I should stay in service.

So, we the employees at Villa St. Francis wish to be heard.  We ask you to consider providing Villa St. Francis employees with some transportation, having us leave VSF at 3:30PM and take the same route we had before straight down I35 to 18th St. to 16th and Central to 7th and Sandusky.  Our group doesn’t even need a larger bus.  We would be very grateful.  We just want something.  If this cannot be done, then we ask that you not change the current 669I route and give all of us at VSF and others a way to get to and from our jobs.  Thank you, and please take VSF into consideration when making your final decision.  Please do not cut the 669 route.  

Respectfully,
Villa St. Francis Employees

Route 669 is the only transit connection between downtown KCK and Johnson County. It starts at 10th and Main in Kansas City, Missouri, then to KCK and on to Lenexa and Olathe. The 669 service was re-routed in January 2012 to KCK. It is particularly disturbing that the KCK workers at Villa St. Francis first lost a bus service they had for 14 years, only to be told they might lose the only remaining KCK/JoCo transit option to work in 2013. This route and route 677-R are the two ”reverse commute” express routes to Johnson County, and they are both proposed for elimination. This gives riders the unfortunate impression that workers from Missouri and Wyandotte County are not welcome in Johnson County.

We have received communications from other workers who use this route to get to work. The following excerpt is from a rider who wrote to several Johnson County commissioners and lives in KCMO and uses this reverse commute bus.

I would also ask you to carefully consider that not all transit riders have “no other option” and that people like me, considered “choice” riders, use this vital public resource to help manage a rising cost of living. Since the JO has experienced considerable growth in ridership over the last year, its clear there are many reasons for people in Johnson County to choose public transportation. 

I’ve been without a car for 2 years in an effort to pay off my student loans and while it’s not always easy, it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make in this tough economy. Many of the people I’ve met on I and D routes of the JO are a part of hard-working families, people who make the choice to spend over an hour, each way, on the bus to save money. I’ve met several nurses and Sprint engineers, warehouse workers and municipal employees from 3 cities who are all trying to squeeze a little more from their budget by using public transportation. Yes, we choose the bus but many choose it pay for sports teams for their kids, visiting nurse care for their elderly parents or to keep the one family car in good repair. We may be choice riders but if the choice is to pay the rising cost of gas or to pay for quality child care, the options are limited.

The proposed JO service eliminations for 2013 will make tough choices even tougher for people like me who aren’t looking for the easy way, who aren’t asking for a handout, who just want the chance to work in Johnson County. Eroding service levels when ridership is on the rise is not a sound approach and I hope your dedication to careful and serious consideration of the facts will lead to continuing current JO service levels at least.

Route 669 and Route 546-D both serve Lenexa City Hall, and both are proposed for elimination.  That would leave no transit to the 87th Street corridor of Lenexa. The Route 669 service area also includes the new EPA location on Renner Road. So instead of the EPA having limited transit to what is considered a “non-sustainable location” it would have NO transit at all. See our previous article.  GSA and EPA Make A Bad Move

Using information JCT made public, TAN evaluated route 669 and it compares favorably in performance measures to several routes being retained. In fact, it has a better farebox recovery ratio, lower annual cost per rider, and higher daily ridership per trip than routes 556, 575, 856, or 875 — all of which are proposed to be retained with slight modifications. It is important to compare the routes using measures such as riders per trip or cost per rider since the raw numbers can be misleading. Route 669 has only 4 trips per day (2 each way) so the ridership can look low compared to the 556, which has 20 trips per day. However when riders per trip or cost per rider are used then the routes can be compared in a fair manner.

If anything, this route should have increased service. When KCATA completed a comprehensive transit analysis last year, one of the recommendations from the national consulting firm, Nelson/Nygaard, was that commuter routes should have a minimum of 6 buses a day, three out in the morning and three returning in the evening. Four buses limit the ability to attract riders since there isn’t the flexibility to cover enough work hours, which is needed for a serious service. Despite this limitation, ridership is up.

When Johnson County cut its transit budget at the beginning of 2012, JCT made a round of service cuts. They tried to combine and re-route buses in order to cover the needs of the same population as in 2011. They hoped these changes wouldn’t hurt too many people. However, in a desperate attempt to do more with less, they ended up with some poorly designed routes and schedules which make it harder to use the system. Yet, ridership is up.

Now JCT is proposing to make even more severe cuts. Instead of some riders having long poorly designed routes, they won’t have a route at all. Significant populations and sections of the region won’t be served.

Politicians keep saying it is all about jobs. In this case we are talking about working people who may lose a job or have to look for a new one in this economy because they lose the ability to get to work.  If these cuts are implemented, riders on 18 of the 20 routes, whether they ride by necessity or by choice, will have to make personal decisions and ask if there is still enough transit in Johnson County to allow them to use the service. The answer will be NO for many of them. Transit provides access to jobs, helps the economy and improves the environment.

Johnson County is going in the wrong direction. Tell the commissioners to “Stop The Cuts” and start building a reasonable transit system that is worthy of one of the richest counties in the country.

See our action list to Save The JO and join our Facebook event to share your ideas and tell what you are doing to help. Watch our Save The JO video interviews.

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

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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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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!

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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.”

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