KC Light Rail

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

Archive for March, 2008

Vote yes for the bus tax

We've done more than our fair share of complaining about KC's bus service over the years — routes meander all over, light years behind on technology (SMS, anyone?), pathetic Sunday and absent night owl services, lack of connections to the 'burbs — but after spending those same years up close and personal with the system, you can bet one this is for sure: WE ARE GETTING A BARGAIN. Our sprawleriffic terrain makes for a incredibly tough challenge, especially when you consider we fund transit at a lower rate than almost any peer city (and state).

That's why the bus tax question is a no brainer and the arguments against its timing are misguided. Some light rail proponents are simply not confident enough that the situation this time is different: a shorter line (cheaper), running in the streets (no eminent domain), that crosses the river AND leans east (politics)… and let's not even talk about $110 per barrel oil (transit demand), and a Democrat on top of the executive heap (transit funding). Call November a perfect storm, and you'd be right.

So yeah, disregard the Architects and vote yes for the bus tax on April 8. Light rail will stand on it's own. As soon as our elected officials learn a bit more about transit, they'll stop thinking and talking about modes and focus more on the system as a whole.


Enterprise brings car sharing to Missouri

The "We'll pick you up!" people just launched their WeCar car sharing service at nine locations in downtown St. Louis. It's a nice public-private partnership that serves transit users well. You can even get a Prius. Once these services start spreading further, private car ownership will seem even more silly and wasteful. Light rail isn't even a prerequisite, as Albuquerque, Columbus, Gainesville, and Milwaukee have proven (check this nationwide list). National car-sharing competitors FlexCar and ZipCar merged last year.

Take heed, Downtown Council! Maybe WeCar parent Enterprise Rent-A-Car will forgive us for tarring and feathering them during the downtown arena vote — which boosted rental car taxes — and consider KC for it's next WeCar location.


Shawnee mayoral candidates talk light rail

The two candidates for Shawnee's mayoral seat — incumbent Jeff Meyers and challenger Dan Pflumm — were asked about light rail for a recent article in the Shawnee Sun.

Would you support a regional light rail transportation system?

Meyers: No. Light rail is very expensive and my fear is that Shawnee might end up having to pay for something from which we would receive little or no benefit.

Pflumm: Yes, if the majority of the funds were federally funded, if the majority of funds raised in Kansas stayed in Kansas, and only if Shawnee benefited from the system.

Any Shawnee readers out there? We'd love to hear your comments.


Big 12 shuttles running all week

Visitors and locals attending the Big 12 basketball tournament this week can choose from several shuttles for $2 each way (expect parking to cost $5-$20 within walking distance of the Sprint Center or Municipal Auditorium). Regular bus service is always available for $1.25 each way, and the MAX, of course, tells you when the next bus arrives at each stop between the Plaza and the river.

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Transit use hits 50-year high

Not in KC, of course… just nationwide, according to the APTA. A couple of snippets worth noting:

  • "Mass transit use increased by more than 2 percent in 2007 to the highest level in 50 years, with Americans taking more than 10 billion trips on public transport while the number of vehicle miles traveled was flat in the first 10 months of the year."
  • "Cities with less than 100,000 people also saw a large increase — 6.4 percent — in public transportation use."

By contrast, KCATA ridership was a little over 15 million in 2007, compared to 46 million* in 1957 (the last year of the streetcar — coincidence? — after which ridership declined almost every year, hitting a low of 13 million in 2001).

* From Monroe Dodd's A Splendid Ride: The Streetcars of Kansas City, 1870-1957.


Troost BRT meetings this week

Troost BRT is back on the public's radar this week as the ATA is seeking input on "station locations, station configurations, integration into surrounding neighborhoods, opportunities for station enhancements." Unfortunately, these public meetings have been scheduled during the work day, so plan for a long lunch!

North Zone (Downtown and North of 31st Street)
11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Tuesday, March 11
HNTB Office
715 Kirk Drive, Room 434

Central Zone (31st Street to 75th Street)
11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Monday, March 10
7000 Troost Ave.

South Zone (South of 75th to the Three Trails Redevelopment Area)
11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Thursday, March 13
Mazuma Credit Union
9300 Troost

UPDATE: Evening meetings will be held in early April for those who can't make this week's sessions. Stay tuned…

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