KC Light Rail

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

Archive for July, 2007

Mr. Chastain Presents

Clay Chastain, author of the approved light rail ballot question, will make a presentation at this week's Transportation and Infrastructure Committee meeting (see the Agenda). Take a long lunch or set your DVR to Channel 2 at noon!


Toronto’s streetcar resurgence

A wonderfully written and timely article in yesterday's Toronto Star talks about the modernization of that city's streetcar system. Unlike streetcar systems across Canada and the U.S., Torontonians lobbied to save their system from certain death in the '70s and the 11 remaining routes now carry over 52 million passengers (that's not counting the passengers carried by Toronto's light rail, subway, and commuter rail systems).

We post this story not to fan the flames of streetcar nostalgia or to distract from the Chastain meetings, but to offer a potential low-cost option for obtaining used streetcar equipment in the wake of Toronto's modernization (the city is looking to replace it's entire fleet of 204 units). We'd also like to remind the city and the KCATA that what will make any system successful here is the speed of operation. This quote sums it up perfectly:

Giambrone knows a way to stop that from happening: giving all streetcars their own right of way, like on Spadina, but also giving operators the power to change the traffic lights in their favour.

In other words, in Giambrone's world, if you drive, you can wait. "That's what being a 'Transit City' is all about," he says. "This is why we have to advance the debate."

To that end, an experiment: Giambrone green-lighted a temporary right-of-way on King St. later this year between Yonge St. and University Ave., wiping away taxi lanes and street parking – for a few weeks, at least. "People will see that the world doesn't end," he says. "And then we'll talk about expanding it."


Bond attempts to secure $2.5m for light rail study

Missouri Senator Kit Bond is attempting to secure $2.5 million in federal funding for completion of the Alternatives Analysis for KC light rail, according to statements published in today's Star. The funding would require approval from Congress and would tie the city to the 8-10 year time line established by the FTA.


URGENT: KCATA to host Light Rail forums

According to today's Star, the KCATA will hold two public forums on light rail next month. We'll post times as they becomes available.

  • Monday, Aug. 20, Plaza Library, 4801 Main (use MAX or #57 bus routes to Plaza Library MAX stop; from the east, use #39 or #47 to Plaza then walk to 48th and Main)
  • Tuesday, Aug. 21, North Kansas City Community Center, 1999 Iron Street (use #133 bus route to Armour and Iron)

If you must drive, free parking is available at both locations.

Separately, the KCATA also expects to have some initial engineering and route options to discuss at these sessions. According the Business Journal, the full Alternatives Analysis from HNTB and others will be ready in "early 2008″.


A Cautionary Tale from St. Louis

You get what you pay for, they say. Now St. Louis' MetroLink light rail is facing increased maintenance costs due to cost-saving shortcuts taken during construction of the original 18-mile starter line from 1993. Cheaper ballast and ties, and second-hand bridges and rail are all forcing Metro to consider major infrastructure improvements before the line reaches  the 20 year mark. Those around in '93 will tell you that the cost-savings were necessary to overcome opposition to getting the line built at all (total cost: ~$464 million), but were the shortcuts worth it? It's important to note that MetroLink utilized existing railroad right-of-way and does not run in city streets, a very different proposition than what is proposed in Kansas City.


WyCo Sunday bus service?

Buried in a Kansas City Star brief about the proposed 2008 budget for the Unified Government of Wyandotte County is a mention of new funding for Sunday bus service. Currently, only five of the 11 KCATA routes that serve KCK offer Saturday service and none offer Sunday service. While this isn't directly related to light rail, it's a good sign that the UG is listening to citizens when setting budget priorities specific to public transportation. It's worth noting that this increase in transit funding is part of a budget that includes a reduction in the property tax rate.

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