KC Light Rail

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Archive for June, 2008

Civic group chimes in on Johnson Compromise

The Regional Transit Alliance issued this statement today regarding the plan — we hereby will always refer to it as The Johnson Compromise — put forth yesterday by Councilman Russ Johnson:

The Regional Transit Alliance applauds Kansas City, Missouri City Councilman Russ Johnson for proposing a bold compromise premised upon an initial city vote on a light rail starter line. In November, Kansas City voters can invest in a light rail spine that can connect seamlessly with the broader regional transit vision Mayor Funkhouser and others have started to explore.

Planning for the starter line has been underway for nearly two years. August approval of ballot language for the November election is nearly within our grasp. The federally mandated "Alternatives Analysis" planning process is on track to meet federal requirements for funding, and Councilman Johnson's proposal appears in great part to trust that process for this new public transit investment in the Kansas City region. The RTA shares that trust and believes that his ¼ cent sales tax proposal will be attractive to voters and the business community. We encourage the City Council to keep its focus on resolving the final details of the starter line for a November vote.

The RTA has comments on two facets of Councilman Johnson's proposal. First, we encourage the City of North Kansas City to explore its own funding options for extending the starter line to the Kansas City Water Works. This extension will not only be an economic development opportunity for North Kansas City, but it will also allow for development of a park-and-ride facility in Kansas City's Northland, an attractive feature for Kansas City, Missouri voters north of the river.

Second, we encourage the timely implementation of the Troost MAX transit project rather than streetcars or other modes of transportation. The Troost MAX line has been in the works for more than two years and has now been successfully funded for construction. This MAX line will be operational within the next 18 to 24 months. The Regional Transit Alliances believes that to suspend the project now and re-open the study can result in a loss of project dollars from the federal government and jeopardize Kansas City’s credibility with the Federal Transit Administration.

The Regional Transit Alliance is encouraged by these recent developments and believes that a successful light rail starter line is key to a comprehensive regional transit plan.


May 30 meeting repeats on Channel 2

For those who live in Kansas City proper and subscribe to Time Warner Cable, you can catch repeat broadcasts of the Mayor's May 30 regional light rail meeting at noon daily through Tuesday (we captured it on the DVR last night around 9 p.m.). The meeting is also available to view on demand. Thanks to the City Communications Office for a quick response!

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Councilman Russ Johnson’s light rail compromise

Read about it here. We'll post commentary once we're able to see today's working session for ourselves.


KCATA offers “How To Ride” clinics + our tips

In advance of this year's Dump The Pump day on June 19, the KCATA is offering a few How To Ride clinics. Since no human is born with this knowledge and it's not taught in any school, we all must learn it somehow. If you work anywhere between the loop and the Plaza you really have no excuse not to try Dump The Pump for one day. Here's a few of our favorite tips if you're new to riding:

Bike + Bus — Since all KC buses have bike racks on the front, there's also little excuse if you or your job aren't right on a route — even if you have to cross the river. The JO also has bike lockers (bring your own lock) at some major stops.

Change Cards — KCATA is one of a handful of transit operators that doesn't require exact change. Hand the driver a $5/10/20 bill, ask for a change card, and you basically get a debit card for bus fares in return, minus the fare for that trip. If you start riding at least once a day, it's probably time to upgrade to a monthly pass.

Online Trip Planner — Now powered by Google Transit and far more friendly and familiar. Caution: The JO hasn't joined in yet; gotta navigate schedules or call the regional call center.

Exiting at the Rear — Even if the bus isn't full, it speeds boarding dramatically if there isn't a line of people waiting to exit the bus through the same tiny door. Most buses have front and rear doors, the latter may require you to push to exit.

Back-Up Plan — If you're using a route that doesn't run all day, make sure you have a back-up plan. Having a bike as part of your trip makes this less painful, but asking a co-worker who lives nearby (or near a more frequent bus route) to be your back-up is easiest.

Have Fun — Not looking forward to a longer-than-usual trip or layover? Plan to stop for coffee or a snack on the way or wherever you make a transfer. Also, don't forget your iPod or PSP (or if you're old school, get your favorite book, magazine, or newspaper). There are lots of ways to kill time when someone else is doing the driving.

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A love letter to JO riders

In what has to be the straw that might just break Johnson County Transit's back, riders have been reminded to make space on overcrowded suburban buses:

ROUTE: K-10, B, C, L, N, S

DATE: June 4, 2008


As the price of gas continues to climb, so does JO ridership. We are so happy to have new riders, but it is creating issues with our buses being near – and sometimes over – seating capacity. Johnson County Transit is aware of these routes being overcrowded and we are working on a solution. Please be aware that buses may change according to ridership. The largest buses we have in our fleet are older buses and they seat a total of 43 riders.

The simple solution may be to add more runs, but currently we are out of vehicles and there are no additional funds in the budget to add service.


- As ridership continues to grow, please be aware that there may be people standing on buses.
- Please do not put your personal items in a seat, hold them on your lap so others can sit.
- Please be courteous to those that may have a disability. Remember, not all disabilities are visible, so if someone asks you to move, they are probably disabled. The seats behind the driver are reserved for those that are elderly or disabled.
- If you can wait an additional 15 minutes for the next bus, please do so. Not all routes have this flexibility, but it can help spread out our ridership, making everyone more comfortable during their ride.

Thanks for your patience and cooperation. For further information, questions, or comments, please feel free to contact us at (913) 782-2210 or by visiting www.thejo.com.

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Will the bus tax be exempted from TIF?

We stumbled on this little piece of legislation approved by the Missouri General Assembly that plugs a leak in the recently approved 3/8-cent bus tax in KCMO: SB 1131. Seems it's simply waiting for Governor Matt Blunt's signature. We posted earlier that flat sales tax proceeds + higher fuel costs does not a happy transit authority make, so we might have to rescind that calculation if this does indeed pass muster with the Governor. From a Prime Buzz article before the election:

The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority will get an estimated $22 million after money is taken out for tax increment financing. Officials estimated the gross amount generated by the tax at $25 million to $27 million.

If you recall, the only vocal opposition to the tax that voters passed overwhelmingly in August was a shadowy group whose complaint was that the tax wasn't exempt from TIF — as opposed to simply being anti-tax or anti-transit.

We just hope he doesn't send his approval in email. Snap!


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