KC Light Rail

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

Archive for June, 2008

Peer City Status, Part 1

Here's what's shaking in the rest of the country while we wait for the Regional v. Starter discussion to be resolved. We present to you the status of urban rail transit in the MSAs that are between 1 and 3 million in population* (KC is about 2 million with 1,407/sq. mi.), from largest to smallest:

San Diego (2.97 million, 3,872/sq. mi.) – The 22-mile Sprinter commuter rail service began in March, using DMUs like those proposed in Mayor Funkhouser's regional plan. This new line doesn't terminate in the city center, but instead connects suburban nodes on existing commuter (Coaster, MetroLink) and inter-city rail lines (Amtrak). The 3-line San Diego Trolley system recently announced it would scrap it's zone pricing and move to a $2.50 fare for each trip.

St. Louis (2.80 million, 5,716/sq. mi.) – The pricey 8-mile "Cross County" light rail extension opened in 2006. A handful of other extensions are on the drawing board, but no funding has been secured. St. Louis has no commuter rail lines, but does have five daily Amtrak trains to Chicago, in addition to the two that run to KC (a new inter-modal station is near completion). A big TOD project was just announced near light rail stations in Maplewood. Fare increases ($2 today) are being discussed to cope with the cost of fueling diesel buses and a reduction in county funding. Our closest peer also deals with state line issues: MetroLink is managed by a bi-state authority.

Tampa (2.72 million, 2,970/sq. mi.) – A regional transit agency — TBARTA — was approved in 2007. A vintage trolley line serves downtown and Ybor City, but a 21-mile modern light rail starter line is being discussed for a 2010 ballot. Interesting to note that Gov. Charlie Crist recently signed a state budget that includes $2 million in funding for the new entity.

Baltimore (2.67 million, 8,058/sq. mi.) – Almost completely absorbed by the DC metro, Baltimore has one light rail line and is actively planning it's second (the Red Line); BRT is being discussed as an alternative. One-way fare is currently $1.60. Extensive commuter rail services to DC and a major spot on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor offer more alternatives to driving (these two services also provide airport connections).

Denver (2.46 million, 3,797/sq. mi.) – In the midst of a regional "railgasm" of sorts, Denver is building 119 miles of light rail and commuter rail through 2016 (including a billion dollar redo of their Union Station to support inter-modal connections). One-way light rail fare is $1.75 and a fare hike is being discussed. It's important to note that Denver's first line in 1994 was a locally-funded and "touristy" 5.3 miles through what was a dead downtown. Extensions opened in 2000, 2002, and 2006. Connections to the airport won't arrive until 2015. Special SkiTrains haul passengers to resorts during high season.

* By request, we added population density (city only). Please note that KC appears sparsely populated, partly based in reality and also based on years of semi-rural annexation north of the Missouri River that has ballooned the area to 318 square miles. Atlanta's area, by comparison, is only 132 square miles.

Stay tuned for more…


Pitch: Know Thy Enemy

This week's Pitch has a great overview of what any November ballot initiative is up against — the same Kansas City elites who buried the 2001 plan — and the names are strikingly familiar. While characters like Wendell Cox typically carry the anti-transit torch on a national level, local foes dig deep to squash transit mega-projects that threaten their road-hungry/racist/status quo motives.

We've been keeping our own tick-list of "light rail enemies", and the Pitch's David Martin pegs the obvious ones without missing a beat. Others waiting in the wings are "neighborhood leaders" from Hyde Park, Cordish cronies, and the city's own aviation department (hint: they're completely reliant on parking fees, which improved transit to KCI would threaten).

Regardless, we're pretty sure KC voters will see through any stealth anti-transit campaign — as they saw through the anti-bus-tax campaign this spring that pretended to be all about about excluding TIF payments.

UPDATE: The Pitch's Plog adds another foe to the list.


More good news from Jeff City

Local transit blog Let's Go KC recaps their trip to Jefferson City for a Joint Transportation Summit between the Missouri House and Senate transportation committees. Before you click to read, go out, buy a hat, and get ready to hold-the-f***-onto-it: MoDOT wants $50 million for public transportation statewide. Hopefully, the Legislature will get their act together and put a funding package in front of voters before gas hits $5.

As we posted earlier, the other good news from Jeff City is still waiting for Gov. Blunt's signature.

No comments

Wanna know why regional funding is necessary?

Check this article in the Lee's Summit Tribune. Basically, LS wants to add another trip on the standing-room-only route #152 but doesn't want to foot the entire bill since it makes stops in Raytown. A regional transit tax would eliminate this kind of squabbling and reduce pressure on the general fund in smaller municipalities.



It's official.

1 comment

McCain v. Obama: Transit Edition

DCist recaps public statements and previous work by the two presumptive presidential nominees (no comment on Libertarian nominee Bob Barr, thank you very much). Nader has historically been an ardent supporter, although we found no specifics on his campaign website.


Next Page »