Transit Action Network (TAN)

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

Posts Tagged ‘KC’

The Scoop on Kansas City Transit Funding

Posted by Transit Action Network on December 14, 2010

Why did such a large diverse group of Transit Supporters show up at the November 18 Kansas City Transportation & Infrastructure Committee meeting to support Ordinance 100951 to restore funding to transit?

City Government has been diverting an excessive and increasing amount of money from the ½ cent Transportation Fund to non-transit uses.

  • This is crippling transit. In 2009 KCATA reduced service by 9.5% and increased fares 20% in order to sustain an even lower level of service.
  • (Click on pie chart to enlarge.)
  • The city has gone from diverting less than 5% in FY2003/2004 to over 18% in FY2010/2011

Transit Supporters are aware of the budget pressures caused by the recession. The city has made a lot of very difficult decisions. But adequate transit is a basic city service that should be protected as a city priority. The proposed ordinance would reaffirm the city’s commitment to provide reasonable transit service to the community.

  • This is an issue of fairness, social equity, and keeping faith with the voters.
  • It honors the voter’s support for transit when they passed the supplemental 3/8 cent sales tax.
  • Transit affects people’s ability to get and maintain jobs. The national organization, Transportation Equity Network (TEN) has a new report explaining how MORE TRANSIT=MORE JOBS. 65% of the trips on our public transit system are related to work or looking for work.
  • In addition to jobs, transit provides vital connections to education, medical care, worship, shopping, entertainment and a vast array of personal activities.
  • The significant cuts to transit service have unfairly affected the people who require transit, such as the elderly and the disabled.
  • The ordinance confirms the City Council’s commitment to make Kansas City a “Green” and “Sustainable” place to live.
  • However much the City needs additional funds in times of recession, the ½ cent transportation tax shouldn’t be raided to subsidize non-transit activities.

Why do we need Ordinance 100951?

  • The pattern of shifting more and more money to non-transit uses is likely to continue without the ordinance.
  • It is much too easy to just keep diverting money from this fund for other purposes. The city currently diverts over 18%. What is to keep them from going to 25% or 30%?
  • Rather than using the 3/8 cent sales tax to improve transit as voters intended, the city is, in effect, using the 3/8 cent sales tax to replace the 1/2 cent sales tax.
  • In the current budget the 3/8-cent sales tax is providing more money for transit than the ½ cent sales tax.

Kansas City Funding for Public Transit during the recession

Funding for Public Transit

FY 2008/2009

FY 2010/2011


1/2 cent sales tax




3/8 cent sales tax








  • One third of the  $9 million decrease in transit funding over the last two years is a result of the city siphoning off additional money to non-transit uses. The remainder is due to lower collection rates during the recession.
  • The City is unlikely to help transit from other city revenue sources, so we need to make sure transit gets most of this sales tax revenue.

What does the proposed ordinance actually do?

  • The ordinance directs the budget office on how to allocate proceeds of the ½ cent transportation tax. (See footnotes)
  • There will be no change in the amount of the money available for the budget, just clear direction from the City Council that certain funds be used for transit.
  • Non-transit activities will revert to receiving 5% of the funding like they did when voters overwhelmingly voted for expanded and improved transit in 2003. The remainder will again go to transit.

Will this proposed ordinance cure the financial woes of the KCATA?

  • This ordinance will not totally mend all the financial woes of the KCATA since sales tax receipts are still low.
  • Without this ordinance, Mark Huffer, General Manager of KCATA, pointed out that service cuts of 25%-35% are looming as early as 2014, when the KCATA Reserve Fund would be exhausted.

Is there opposition to the Ordinance?

  • Some concerns have been expressed about losing “flexibility” in the budgeting process. However, considering that the transit system suffered a tremendous financial reduction from the decline in sales tax, maintaining the City’s ability to continue diverting huge amounts of money away from the transit system shouldn’t be called “flexibility”.
  • There is some concern about how to replace the money for non-transit activities that would return to transit. The non-transit activities could return to previous funding methods before the 1/2 cent transportation fund was used so heavily to subsidize their activities.

What can we do?

  • At the next Transportation and Infrastructure Committee meeting on December 16, the committee will make a recommendation on the ordinance to the full council. Please contact your city council members and the mayor to support Ordinance 100951 and restore funding to the transit system.
  • Contact information can be found here.



How will the ordinance be calculated?

  • The proposed ordinance will create a new calculation. Both TIF (Tax Incremental Financing) and city administration fees are deducted first. These currently total about 15% of this sales tax. The 95%Transit/5% Public Works split will happen after TIF and the city administration fees are deducted.

How did TAN get all of this budget information?

  • The Kansas City Budget is online. Choose the appropriate budget from the box in the upper right corner on this link.  Next click on any of the icons that appear. Then open or download the PDF file. It is over 500 pages long. From the FY 2010-1011 Adopted Budget TAN mainly used the Budget by Department and the Schedules.


Related articles can be found on this blog by using Category “Action” or tag “KC Ordinance”


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

Change of Date for Committee Vote on Ordinance 100951

Posted by Transit Action Network on December 8, 2010

A decision on transit Ordinance 100951 will not happen tomorrow, December 9, 2010. Councilman Riley, Chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, intends to hold the ordinance, which restores funding to transit from the ½ cent sales transportation tax, to allow staff additional time to provide a plan to the Council.

We have been told that staff will provide a plan addressing the budget implications if the ordinance passes on the non-transit activities that are currently using that money.

Of course passing the ordinance would start to address the huge shortfall in the public transit budget.

The next discussion of the ordinance is planned for Jan. 6, 2011. The Council will not meet for two weeks over the holidays. On Jan 6th staff will present information concerning the budget.

We are pursuing permission to provide additional public testimony on Jan 6.

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

TAN to City Council–Postpone Support for Commuter Rail

Posted by Transit Action Network on May 20, 2010

Two weeks ago Mike Sanders and Jim Terry (TranSystems) presented the Regional Rapid Rail concept to the Kansas City Council and requested a letter of support for a $4.5 million earmark to do an Alternative Analysis of this concept and supporting transit. The Kansas City Council proposed a resolution to provide this letter. Testimony was held this morning on the resolution.  Mike Sanders and Jim Terry spoke in favor of the resolution. Ron McLinden spoke in favor of putting the resolution on hold until the MARC Commuter Corridor Study is complete in 6-8 weeks. This study is supposed to evaluate the feasibility and viability of the concept. The legislative committee passed the resolution this morning.

Link to Kansas City’s resolution

Below is a copy of Ron’s statement this morning.

Presentation to the Kansas City Council Legislative Committee on May 20, 2010 by Ron McLinden

The idea of turning underused rail lines into a regional transit system is appealing – almost seductive.  There’s a lot of interest in having rail transit.  Every big city has it, and we don’t want to be left behind.  There’s less agreement, of course, about where it should go, and how we should pay for it.

In January, 2008, when the ATA was doing its most recent light rail study, you heard a presentation from Jeff Boothe, a rail transit expert from Washington, DC.  I recall distinctly one of the things he said:  Before you do light rail you need to know what you want it to do for you.

The same applies today.  What do we want rail transit to do for us, and will this proposed system actually do it?

You may be aware of a commuter corridors study that Mid-America Regional Council has had under way for about six months.  Its principal focus is to determine whether this commuter rail concept makes sense:  Can it deliver the travel time savings needed to attract enough riders to make it a viable project, one that can successfully compete for federal funding?  That study should be completed in six to eight weeks.  We suggest that you hear the results of the MARC study before you endorse the concept.

The concept envisions using city streets for some of the most critical rail segments, and it would cross several boulevards at grade.  We suggest you get input from your Public Works Department, and also from the Parks Board.

If you adopt this resolution now, before you have all the facts, you will further heighten public expectations about a concept that might or might not be viable.  The resolution says that you support asking for federal money to study the proposal further, but the headlines will say that commuter rail is a big step closer to becoming reality.

Candidly, we’re concerned that this proposal is a distraction from more fundamental transit issues:  What kind of total transit system will best serve the citizens of Kansas City, and help our city to grow as the vibrant urban center of the region?  How can we assure adequate and reliable funding for the transit service we already have, and for expansion to meet growing needs?

All of us applaud Jackson County’s interest in transit, and we should seize this opportunity to work with the County to put in place a mechanism for county-wide funding of major transit corridors, including commuter service using buses or rail.  Creating a county transit authority under existing state law is one such funding mechanism.  Jackson County outside Kansas City has unmet transit needs, and funding will be needed regardless of what kind of transit service is ultimately provided, so let’s get going on it now.

In summary, here’s our request to you:

+  Put this resolution on hold pending the results of the MARC study, and input from Public Works.

+  Join with other elected officials and work with Jackson County to establish a broader funding base for transit through creation of a county transit authority.

KC Regional Rapid Rail Concept

Posted in Rail, Regional Rapid Rail, RRR | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »