KC Light Rail

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

Regional update: Bus or commuter rail?

This update from last week's third regional transit summit poses an interesting dilemma: at what cost rail? On one side, the normally pragmatic Mayor Funkhouser pushes for commuter rail and on the other side suburban mayors push for new bus service. Both will take some time to implement, as the waiting list for new buses has jumped to nearly two years due to crushing demand. Commuter rail, on the other hand, isn't experiencing quite the mad dash due to the higher capital cost and limited number of systems up and running.

Opponents of commuter rail cite:
- higher capital cost
- limited route options
- demand for existing bus service
- freight railroad insistence on expensive capacity upgrades
- freight congestion
- encouragement of sprawl and limited development potential

Proponents of commuter rail cite:
- higher fuel efficiency and similar operational costs as a bus
- higher passenger capacity per trip than buses
- limited exposure to severe weather and traffic congestion
- potential for electrification
- willingness of at least one freight railroad (KC Southern) to be a partner
- acknowledgment of sprawl

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

4 Comments so far

  1. midtown joe August 1st, 2008 8:15 am

    Can the commuter rail encouragement of sprawl be any worse than with highways?

  2. Dave August 2nd, 2008 10:39 am


    a dense, urban environment isn’t for everyone, yet we don’t hesitate to build or expand highways to accommodate the suburban or semi-rural lifestyle.

  3. […] States that the line is intended to be part of regional, multi-modal transportation system. Work is in progress on regional Missouri funding and routes that would connect with the starter line and an early 2009 […]

  4. Brent August 12th, 2008 7:16 pm

    The single biggest advantage I see to rail is that it avoids and circumvents traffic. What good is a bus line if I have to just sit in the same crappy traffic not moving in it that I do in my car. Bus lines along major commute lines only help if everyone else uses them too. But rail service avoids the traffic and takes you to your destination….

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