KC Light Rail

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Hindsight: The Epic Fails of the Starter Line

We're not going anywhere, in case you were wondering. There's lots of potential in the aftermath of Tuesday's vote. In order of importance, here are the major fuck-ups with the starter line campaign:

Epic Fail #1: RIDERSHIP

A complete and total unknown before the election. Original schedule was June.

Epic Fail #2: CITY COUNCIL

Bickering with each other and constantly pointing the finger at Mayor Funkhouser. Yeah, we all know they want to be the next mayor, but come on. Fall in line behind the regional plan next year and put your petty differences aside… all of you. Make sure the ATA has the money to finish the Alternatives Analysis, even if you have cut the stadiums subsidy to make it happen (they're doing fine, financially… the city and transit are not).

Epic Fail #3: EXTENSIONS

The election results by ward suggest that none of the politically-motivated extensions (Water Works to I-29, Plaza to Prospect, Brush Creek to 63rd) garnered any additional real support at the ballot box.

Epic Fail #4: OAK

Who? What? When? Exactly. Right before the election the project team started dropping Oak Street as an option through downtown, unquestionably to keep Cordish out of the fray. This option was not vetted with the public and should not have been mentioned. Period.

Epic Fail #5: SEWERS

One phrase sums this up: RED HERRING. Submit the plan on time next year and get it out of the way before the next transit vote.


Don't make people add fractions ever again. Assuming a voter wasn't aware light rail was on the ballot, the question's language was too wordy and confusing. It did, however, have the correct amount of route detail, regardless of what the opposition said. The failure to garner a majority vote had more to do with the economy and the regional discussion (and lack of a clawback if no federal funding came through). Kudos to The Star for doing the educational legwork the project team did not make time to do.

6 Comments so far

  1. Brent November 8th, 2008 4:31 pm

    #7) Crummy Campaign — The opposition ran a great campaign around “Too many questions” - -and while most of those questions had answers, the “pro” campaign, which was better funded (supposedly) than the “anti” campaign did nothing to answer those questions in the minds of voters.

  2. northlander November 10th, 2008 8:39 am

    You would think with all the other studies on Light Rail from before more facts would of already been out without so much wasted time.Do they throw out all the info every time just so we can have more studies?

  3. alwaysfiredup November 10th, 2008 11:28 am

    How about this: forget about light rail in KC, work on commuter rail from east, west, north and south suburbs into Union Station, with frequent bus service to points downtown and a dedicated shuttle to the airport, and add a touristy-frou-frou streetcar (dolled-up MAX, as un-bus-like as possible) from Union Station to Crown Center and the Plaza? Much cheaper and gets people where they want to go. There can even be a commuter line along Bruce Watkins in order to better serve the East Side of KC. Heck, add the gondola if you want.

    But Light Rail is too expensive for a low-density place like KC, and we will NEVER agree on where it should go.

  4. northlander November 10th, 2008 1:05 pm

    I agree let’s have bus shuttle to the Airport from the Union Station,they always have plenty of parking,and it’s a easy place for people to get dropped off. Once they get to the Broadway bridge it’s nonstop to the Airport. Put the news on channel 2,start out with small buses and get bigger one if needed.

  5. J Saban November 11th, 2008 1:51 pm

    I agree with the assessment that KC missed out with this light rail vote. I am especially discouraged that the campaign was so off base and that our city council, which voted for the ballot language 13-0, did such a poor job of campaigning for this initiative that not only could have brought in a $500m investment from the federal gov, but could have been a chance to revitalize KC in a way that no other public improvement project (i.e., sewers) can. I hope that KC voters will get another chance to correct this mistake. Hopefully next time, they’ll actually have a campaign run by professionals that know how to get the public informed and excited about light rail.

  6. matt November 12th, 2008 8:04 pm

    well put J Saban

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