KC Light Rail

Your source for news and information on Kansas City’s light rail progress

Archive for February, 2007

Vote! Vote! Vote!

If you really care at all about light rail or mass transit issues in the metro, please do not forget to vote on Tuesday! Plenty of election information and candidate profiles are available here, including information about municipal races on the Kansas side (where a vote for mass transit might even carry more weight than on the Missouri side). Separately, Bridging The Gap has posted the candidates' views on environmental issues, which are closely tied to the push for a smarter mass transit system in the metro.

KCLightRail.com is not making any endorsements in the primary, but instead urges all of our readers to make informed choices and put transportation issues at the top of your list!

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Got Light Rail Envy?

Still a bit of a slow news cycle until the mayoral and council elections are over next month, so today we bring you more updates on other light rail systems across the country.

First, we look east to New Jersey Transit's Hudson-Bergen Light Rail line, which was a public-private partnership that allowed one supplier to design, build, operate and maintain the system. Since opening in 2000 — and expanding several times since — the line has generated a lot of new development. That's why NJ Transit has commissioned a study to prove how much additional private investment has occurred since the $2 billion system opened.

Next, we move to south to the DART system in Dallas, which just announced an expansion of their green line out to the suburb of Carrollton. The expansion will run along an existing Union Pacific freight corridor. The city of Carrollton, which is just north of DFW airport, has been buying up land, rezoning, and offering tax breaks to developers to build transit-oriented development.

Lastly, we head west to Phoenix, where fully-assembled light rail cars were finally unveiled for their new 20-mile line, which opens in December 2008. In addition, the suburbs of Chandler and Scottsdale are both getting serious about connecting to the main spine through Phoenix, Mesa, and Tempe.


Surviving A Storm

Pittsburgh's light rail line is recovering from the severe weather that slammed the eastern US this week. In planning for Kansas City's light rail system, much thought should be given to handling the extreme storms that can wreak havoc in our metro. Pittsburgh's transit agency says "it was an act of nature that we just weren't prepared for."

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A Light Rail Runs Through It

So much is going on in the Kansas City mayoral race that many voters have found it hard to keep up with the 10 city council races that are flying under the radar (each of KC's six districts has two seats — in-district and at-large). Dangerblog posts some responses from 4th district candidates on whether they currently use, or would pledge to use, the existing bus system if elected. A critical portion of any future light rail line would slice through the "Fightin' Fourth", as it is home to UMKC, the Plaza, Westport Road, Crown Center, and Union Station. The streets of the 4th district currently host a major portion of the existing MAX bus rapid transit route.

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Mayoral Candidate Stresses Transportation Expertise

Current 4th District councilman and mayoral candidate Jim Glover told the Sertoma Club this week that he has the expertise to get light rail up and running in Kansas City. Glover has mentioned his previous experience in transportation planning in most of the mayoral forums held to date.

The KMBC piece continues to promote the myth that because we haven't confirmed there is actual federal money for the plan that Kansas City is simply unable to move forward. When the city-backed plan was proposed to voters in 2001, actual federal money was also not immediately available. Another myth propagated here is that the current bus system is somehow above reproach for cuts or a significant overhaul. The level of ignorance about the current KCATA system by the people involved in these discussions is astounding, proven by the fact that not one mayoral candidate has asked the following basic questions:

  • Do we need every route we have today?
  • Do we need every single route to circulate through the downtown loop? Why not take advantage of the transit centers that have been built?
  • Do we need weekend service to the suburbs?
  • Do we need to duplicate routes with The JO since transfers are free?
  • Do we need full-size buses for the lesser-traveled routes?
  • Can we ask surrounding municipalities (Independence, Raytown, Lee's Summit, Gladstone, North Kansas City, KCK) to increase their support for the system?
  • Why aren't we selling more advertising on buses?
  • Why isn't the the mayor and current council lobbying employers to buy bus passes for their employees versus paying for parking (a standard set by Jackson County)?
  • Why aren't the casinos paying for the Casino Cruiser service?
  • Why not use Union Station as the downtown transit center and sell 10th and Main to the highest bidder? All routes could terminate there allowing connections to Amtrak and intercity bus lines (Greyhound, Jefferson, and El Conejo could move to Union Station).

…and so on. The point is that the current system has flaws, and the funding debate should include discussion of these flaws. Next time you run into someone who spouts the line about "saving the current bus system", ask them if they use it.