KC Light Rail

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Funkhouser’s Regional “Concept”

Mayor Funkhouser laid out a few details for his vision of a regional transit "concept" during his appearance on Up To Date this morning. The podcast is here.

Why it's different this time:

  • KC has never had a mayor who has made light rail such a high priority (debatable, but we think it's true)
  • Climate change concerns makes the situation more urgent, especially on the Kansas side
  • Transit ranks high in importance in Johnson County and low in satisfaction… "exactly the kind of thing you want to fund," Funk says
  • The KC metro job growth rate is decreasing and is now below the national average; KC needs transit to be competitive with peers

The concept:

  • Shared governance across the state line and by elected — not appointed — officials (possibly just to manage light rail, existing bus systems retained?)
  • Equal amount of rail miles on each side of the state line
  • Shared funding:
    • 1/2-cent sales tax collected regionally
    • $138 million collected annually, bonded to $3.5 billion to finance construction and operations
    • Lower percentage of federal matching funds (about a third, or $1 billion) for the entire system, versus just "one project at a time" model; Salt Lake City just set a precedent for this approach by requesting a 20% match for five new lines (four light rail and one commuter rail)… Houston will likely follow suit
    • Dedicate 5-10% towards Metro Green (bike and walking trails) for intermodal connections

He thinks he has a "10-20% chance" of making it happen, so what does he have to lose? Valid points all around. We're quite relieved to hear him state, unequivocally, that if he can't make the regional love-fest work before the November '08 election, then he'll back a KC- or Missouri-only starter line.

All that said, is there anyone who actually listened today that isn't satisfied?

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