KC Light Rail

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

Clay 58%, Jackson 52%, Platte 52%

Okay, now look up and read those percentages one more time. We'll wait…

That's the level of support for a new 1/2-cent regional sales tax on the Missouri side of the KC metro, according to new polling data obtained yesterday by the Kansas City Star.

For those not familiar with Kansas City's geography, the urban core is in Jackson County, which is south of the Missouri River and largest in population; the suburban Northland is spread between next-largest Clay and mostly-rural Platte counties north of the river.

Now, a few more numbers: $132.19 and $3.79. That's the price of a barrel of oil for July delivery and the price of a gallon of 87-octane gasoline in the city, respectively. As analysts have already trumpeted, we'll be seeing $4 on station signs before you know it.

Add to the recipe one indisputably historic November election — when this question (or the local funding one, which only polled at 42% support earlier this year) will appear on the ballot — and you've got a perfect storm for light rail and improved transit in Kansas City.

The support in the Northland was only made more obvious last weekend when we participated in a 13-mile group walk from North Kansas City to Prairie Village. Looking for a way to get to the starting point from downtown, we discovered that there was no Sunday bus service that crosses the river. And you can forget hopping a bus in idyllic Prairie Village on any day, let alone a weekend. For the record, the 10-minute walk across the big-shouldered Heart of America bridge was pleasant on a traffic-free Sunday morning.

So back to the poll numbers: Why release them on a Friday before a long holiday weekend? Not sure there was any other choice, as KC Mayor Mark Funkhouser scrambles to secure support at a May 30 meeting with regional leaders. Hopefully, the data will be all these "leaders" need to change their tune and back what their constituents are telling them is quite obvious.

Either way, we get to vote. Those critical of the harried regional push should remember that there is a Plan B that faces stiffer resistance within the city's boundaries. Although that could likely change if another poll is conducted after we pass the $4/gallon mark.

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