KC Light Rail

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Bus tax prevails, ATA not off the hook yet

A very strong majority (65%) voted to renew the 3/8-cent bus tax yesterday, which had been held hostage by a citizen initiative light rail plan since November 2006. This should leave all legal wrangling in the dust and allow the city to move forward with a (hopefully) somewhat regional funding election in November 2008.

Even with the strong win, KCATA cannot rest on its laurels. There are still systemic problems with existing bus routes and lots of missed opportunities with bus rapid transit. Some key issues:

  • Route complexity: Who would willingly ride a nearby bus line that changes routes between the workday, nighttime, weekends, or every other trip? Check #39 and #51 for proof.
  • Better east/west connectivity and connections: Enough said.
  • Project status and ridership figures: While not a critical item, ATA pales compared to peer agencies when it comes to reporting project status and ridership. Doesn't cost much to post these tidbits on the web.
  • Real MAX signal priority: Since straightening the route is unlikely, give every MAX bus true signal priority, which should result in a dramatic improvement in trip time between downtown and Waldo.
  • Night owl service: Especially in a truncated MAX corridor, where most of the city's nightlife is located. This is key in attracting the next generation of riders.
  • Implement BRT with lessons learned from MAX: See all of the above, plus make sure to color code the routes in line with SmartMoves.

Got your own ideas? Post a comment!

6 Comments so far

  1. Eric April 9th, 2008 10:07 am

    I agree with all of these points. The fact that none of them were mentioned in the 15 year renewal is why I voted against it. Whether we get light rail or not, there are still some very real needs in the regular bus system that no one is talking about.

    East/West service is terrible. Everything is oriented north/south. East/west BRT isn’t even a on the radar screen.

    Something like night owl service would take more money, but all this tax does barely maintain the status quo.

  2. northlander April 9th, 2008 5:14 pm

    Agree with the points above,except the night owl might need a study to see what time to stop on certain routes.
    Would this be weekends only? Run late for the shift change at St.Luke’s up North ?
    On weekends, and when late night events at Sprint? With fuel prices going up we need to be smart on how we do business.

  3. Gloria April 21st, 2008 7:28 am

    How about an express from KC North to the Plaza?

    It’s pretty weird that there isn’t one, if you ask me.
    As it is, depending on the time of day, you have to change busses 2 or 3 times, and in some cases, wait for an hour or more just to get on a bus that will take you almost twice as long to ride as it would for you to drive.

    Having such a bus would also make it easier to commute from the north to Johnson county/Overland Park/Sprint Campus which, right now, is nearly impossible.

    If we want to reduce dependancy on oil, then we have to make riding the bus attractive and without fast convenient routes for people who would normally be doing a crap-load of driving, it’s just not going to happen.

    Sorry for not caring about East/West atm… I live up north and work south so… that’s a more pressing need for me. :P

  4. paul May 5th, 2008 7:44 am

    If the “Rail” isn’t coming south to the triangle from the start why should us southlanders pay anything for it?

  5. Dave May 5th, 2008 9:00 am

    you could ask the same thing for any service the city provides that doesn’t directly touch the southland.

  6. Matt Fisher June 5th, 2008 9:47 pm

    Won’t colour coding BRT lines make people think BRT and rail are the same thing? (See, for example, the “Silver Line” in Boston and the “Orange Line” in Los Angeles shown on rail maps to give people the false impression that BRT is “just like rail, but cheaper”.) Sure, it could attract riders… but is it just another bus disguised to look like a train? I suggest this:


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