KC Light Rail

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State Avenue recap

KCK residents made it quite clear last night: why have a meeting about public transit at a time when our system won't allow us to get here and back home? Granted, about 80 (edit: UG says 100!) people still showed up, but it's clear that improvements are wanted and needed by KCK residents.

First, some facts about the State Avenue corridor and the current transit situation in KCK:

- Three systems (KCATA's five routes, six routes operated by the Unified Government, and one lonely JO route).
- 1.2 million rides annually (850K on KCATA routes, 213K on UG routes).
- $6 million budget with less than 1% fare recovery (KCATA recovers 15%).
- No Sunday service; very limited Saturday service.
- Transfers required to rest of KCATA system and to routes west of Indian Springs.
- Five routes serving the study area generate about 3,100 rides daily (a tick less than the old #56 was carrying before it was replaced by MAX in 2004).
- Top three routes and ridership: #106 (1000/day), #101 (975/day), #114 (480/day).

Next, some major amenities and attractions along the corridor:

- Downtown KCMO (Power & Light District, Sprint Center, Bartle Hall, MAX)
- Downtown KCK (Unified Government, Federal, and State offices; Memorial Hall; Screenland Granada; Strawberry Hill Museum)
- Indian Springs Center (future development, Children's Museum)
- Kansas City Kansas Community College
- Providence Medical Center
- Village West (Speedway, T-Bone Stadium, Legends, Schlitterbahn, future casino)

Now, the timeline for what will inevitably be a BRT route between downtown KCMO and Village West (even though other "alternatives", such as light rail, will be "discussed"):

- Alternatives Analysis and Locally Preferred Alternative (includes public input) will be completed in 9 months.
- Additional public meetings will be held during the above timeframe.
- Detailed planning will begin in 2008.
- Implementation, based on the Troost BRT timeline, as early as 2010.

Finally, the public input:

- Lots of complaints about interoperability between KCATA, JO, and UG routes (transfers, passes, connections, operating hours).
- Over an hour to Village West, transfer at Indian Springs required (while Village West is considered a tourist attraction, almost everyone placed one dot on the map at that location, and there have been well-publicized issues attracting employees to all of the low-paying retail jobs in such a far-flung location).
- UG routes don't run after 7 p.m.
- Lack of pedestrian and ADA considerations along existing routes and throughout KCK (sidewalks, bus shelters, safe lighting or emergency call boxes, bike lanes).

State Avenue BRT Meeting

Next, the outstanding questions to be answered in future steps:

- Will KCMO residents use this line to get to Village West?
- Will the West Bottoms be served as it is today by #101 and #106? Currently, there is no safe way for pedestrians and bikers to access this part of the city, although the Riverfront Trail is getting there.
- What affect will the redevelopment plan of Indian Springs Mall have on the effort?
- What affect will the future Schlitterbahn and casino additions to Village West have on ridership estimates?
- Will existing KCK routes be reorganized to provide better overall coverage (such as new north/south routes), even if transfers are required?
- How will operation of the new service be funded? It is assumed that construction and bus acquisition will be covered by a Very Small Starts FTA funding.
- Is a single-seat ride possible with the Troost BRT line (SmartMoves' Yellow Line)?
- Will UG address land use planning around transit stops to boost future ridership?

We were intrigued by a question posed recently by the KC Star's Prime Buzz blog: Who will carry the torch for improved transit in the Metro? We answered UG's Joe Reardon, knowing that Johnson County's leaders are still way too mired in the status quo. Mayor Reardon, having been handed the keys to the other development juggernaut in the region, is spearheading this effort with MARC, KCATA, and KDOT and we hope the results are fast, efficient, and well marketed… results that this transit-dependent part of the community deserves.

7 Comments so far

  1. Brent October 10th, 2007 5:13 pm

    Question: Are there any available rail lines that could be utilized, at least in part, to get from KCMO Union Station/West Bottoms west toward Village West? I know there is another mess of rail yards out near 670…but have no idea where any of those lines go or if any have been abandoned….

  2. Dave October 10th, 2007 5:19 pm

    yes! i’ve heard talk of an abandoned rail corridor that goes from the west bottoms straight to village west. not sure if anyone has stepped up to buy it or convert it to a trail in the interim. the problem, of course, is that it probably isn’t where the people are. regardless, i will dig around to find more information.

  3. Chuck October 10th, 2007 7:29 pm

    You can get into the West Bottoms. I run down there all the time from the River Market without any problems. Of course, I have to cross 4 lanes with no sidewalk but there are never any cars so it doesn’t really matter.

    As for BRT to VW, bring it on.

  4. Dave October 11th, 2007 9:30 am

    i think the relative ease of qualifying for very small starts funding will keep this one on track. check the timeline for troost BRT and MAX for proof.

  5. […] (along with the East Side) in transit dependency. No word on how the funding crisis will affect the State Avenue BRT project — still is the planning stage — since the FTA Small Starts program will only […]

  6. […] and 39th Street). A BRT line along Prospect is part of the proposed starter line plan and a State Avenue line to Village West is proposed but not yet […]

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