KC Light Rail

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Funkhouser introduces regional legislation

Kansas City's first technocrat-turned-mayor may not get everything on his light rail wish list right away, but his regional funding proposal certainly elevates the dialog, especially with overly-sensitive Kansas legislators. A draft of Funk's proposed legislation is here — along with an overview — thanks to Prime Buzz.

So why is this action different than anything preceding it? It's just the kind of proposal that is expected from Kansas City's mayors, and is a magnificent gesture towards healing state line wounds. While Councilman Ed Ford has been handling all of the specifics with the Council, the Mayor pursues the regional purse strings and oversight that's needed to send a multi-line transit request to Washington (see Salt Lake City and Houston for recent examples of such an approach).

The timing is perfect as Johnson County leaders figure out that their top rung in the metro's economy is just as susceptible as Sprint's subscriber base or the price of endlessly sprawling McMansions. We need the metro to coalesce around a big issue like transit.

8 Comments so far

  1. Ben February 5th, 2008 4:29 pm

    The most interesting thing about this proposal is that no other city in the United States has done something like this. There are cities that have more miles of light rail lines than the Mayor is proposing, but no metro has ever built a regional system (connecting all corners) at the same time. The Mayor is right to believe we should build it all at once. With rising construction costs, and a federal government that may not have money to give in the coming years we should pass the tax, get our federal money (which is likely with a plan such as this) and get the thing built as quickly as possible.
    This may be a far fetched plan, but if it became a reality it would all of a sudden put KC (one of the least transit friendly cities) into the front of the pack…ahead of cities like St. Louis, Denver, and Seattle. This has the potential to be one of the greatest opportunities for out metro, and I think it would be a shame to waste it.

  2. Eric February 5th, 2008 4:58 pm

    I don’t see how it makes sense to have the rail and bus systems managed by different agencies. This just adds another agency to an already fractured transit system. Do we really four agencies with four directors, four IT departments, four marketing departments, and on and on?

  3. northlander February 5th, 2008 5:28 pm

    So what’s the price tag?

  4. Dave February 5th, 2008 5:40 pm

    as far as the separate agencies are concerned, i don’t see the point there either. most transit agencies that are separate entities (chicago, new york) are trying to consolidate to save money on overhead.

    i would also add that i don’t think the entire network needs to be light rail. you might get better bang for your buck with heavy (commuter) rail out to olathe and way beyond. adding daily and special event services would give most people what they need (and possibly even a faster ride).

  5. Dave February 5th, 2008 5:42 pm

    northlander: the mayor has previously mentioned $4-5 billion with a 20-25% federal match.

  6. northlander February 5th, 2008 9:15 pm

    So what happen to the Citizen’s Task Force for Light Rail?
    Is that out the door? No Starter Line? Will this be a Bi-State Tax? What happen the Clay’s court date? How many years will this take? Is James B. Nutter still in the picture? Is there a limit on the amount for this? What no sunset limit,will this tax go on forever? Is it Light Rail or Streetcar? So many Questions. Does anyone have the answers

  7. Dave February 6th, 2008 9:08 am

    1. the task force is done.
    2. the ATA is still planning a starter line, the primary goal since nov. 2006.
    3. this would be a bi-state tax.
    4. who cares about clay?
    5. if the regional plan gets built, assume at least 10-12 years beyond the approval of the tax.
    6. who cares about james b. nutter?
    7. light rail or streetcar? the plan says light rail. that phrase could include streetcars, since streetcars fall into the light rail category.
    8. as for duration, the draft legislation doesn’t mention specifics so it’s likely that is simply TBD (hence “draft”).

  8. northlander February 6th, 2008 5:48 pm

    Dave: thank you

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