KC Light Rail

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

Archive for November, 2007

Light rail on “Up To Date”

Light rail will be the topic on today's "Up To Date", a local call-in show on NPR affiliate KCUR. The program starts at 11 a.m. Central time and can be streamed live.

UPDATE: Today's show will be archived here.


Council to vote on repealing light rail plan

The City Council's docket for today includes voting on repealing the voter-approved light rail plan from November 2006. The Council could also vote on a back-up of sorts, by voting whether to place the petition initiative on the ballot in February. This will allow voters to repeal the plan themselves if for some reason the Council's action of repealing it is hit with a lawsuit or other snafu.

Also on the docket is ordinance 071202, which reads like this (emphasis added):

Section 1. That the Mayor and City Council will honor the intent of the citizens of Kansas City who voted in November 2006 for light rail and commit to placing on the ballot no later than November 4, 2008, a transportation plan which includes a workable light rail and continued 3/8 cent funding for the bus system. The Mayor and Council will continue to work with the KCATA, MARC, and other stakeholders in the planning of a comprehensive transit system in order to provide transit mobility options for our citizens

We'll know more after the session starts at 3pm today.


  • Ordinance 071130 - Repeal of Light Rail plan
  • Ordinance 071131 - Send petition initiative to ballot
  • Ordinance 071202 - Commitment to create a transportation plan

UPDATE: The Council has repealed the plan approved in 2006, 10 - 3.

Those voting for the repeal:

  • Hermann
  • Skaggs
  • Ford
  • Johnson
  • Curls
  • Sanders Brooks
  • Gottstein Riley
  • Marcason
  • Circo
  • Funkhouser

Those voting against:

  • Riley Gottstein
  • Jolly
  • Sharp

Both of the other ordinances passed unanimously.


Task Force makes route, technology recommendations

The Star has the full story on the 12-mile recommendation. Here are the basics:

  • Northern terminus: Vivion Road and North Oak Trafficway (I-29)
  • Southern terminus: 51st Street and Brookside Boulevard
  • Eastern branch: 18th Street, Linwood Boulevard, or along Brush Creek to Prospect Avenue
  • Technology: Modern streetcar with overhead catenary in dedicated, transit-only lanes
  • Funding: 3/8-cent new sales tax with federal matching funds
  • Stops and precise street alignment will be determined at a later date

Now the Council must make a decision this week on how to proceed with the repeal of the voter-approved plan. It has been sufficiently tarred and feathered, but now that a real replacement exists a simple repeal by the Council should produce little fallout (other than snarky comments from the same five trolls on Prime Buzz). The Council has had plenty of time to think about the options and they've been floating in the media — and out their districts — for just as long. It's time to act.

UPDATE: The ATA has posted the Task Force's recommendations: Citizen Task Force Recommendations on an Alternative Light Rail Plan


Portland says KC should use Light Rail instead of Street Cars

“Light rail is where I’d start; I think light rail is the best way for you guys to start, I really do.” –Vicky Diede, Street Car Project Manager in Portland, Oregon, recommends Light Rail over Street Cars for Kansas City

In what's sure to cause some editorial room heckling, Hearne Christopher at The Star relates his conversation with Vicky Diede, Street Car Project Manager in Portland, OR.

Diede, who's spent more then 15 years working on Portland's transportation system, describes how streets cars function:

“Streetcars are inner city connectors, and they’re designed for stopping every two to three blocks,” she says. “The purpose is not to take you from the airport to downtown. Can they do it? Yes, but that’s not their purpose. … I don’t know what the ideal speed is, but (generally) they go very slow — 8 to 12 miles per hour.”

This opinion runs counter to what The Star suggested last week. It also contrasts the differing functions of faster and higher-passenger Light Rail with slower and lower-passenger street cars. Light Rail moves more people farther and faster, while street cars are "an inner city connector."


The Star: Starter line could inspire regionalism

Today's Star has more in-depth light rail coverage, including a great graphic (only in print?) that describes the possibilities of light rail lines replacing the SmartMoves corridors that have already been defined. Regional taxes — bi-state, if you will — would need to be collected from neighboring cities to make it work; other divided metros (St. Louis, Portland, D.C., Philadelphia) have proven that state lines can be put aside to deal with transit effectively. Also of note, Ed Ford believes there is a majority on the council in favor of repealing the 2006 ballot initiative themselves, saving $500,000 in election costs for the repeal petition initiative.

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“Future of Transit in KC” will air Nov. 9

KCPT will air a community forum next week — BY THE PEOPLE: The Future of Transit in Kansas City — a fact we were very surprised to first hear about in the closing seconds of this week's episode of Kansas City Week in Review. The program description proclaims: "100 Citizens… Mayor Funkhouser… And a think tank of experts…" Check the video and discussion guide.

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