KC Light Rail

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

Your government: “We don’t actually care about transit, SRSLY.”

It's all here in black-and-white on the US Conference of Mayors website. A laundry list of infrastructure projects and not one of them has anything to do with public transportation. Lots of crap for the KCI and Water Services, however. Thanks, Kansas City!

And do you think this is unique to the municipal level? Nah. MoDOT's big wish list has a request for 200 buses (likely to be shared between the 6 or 7 agencies state-wide), but the total ask is twice as big as what's expected from the economic stimulus. We're guessing the buses get cut first in favor of roads and bridge. Thanks, Missouri!

Our only hope is that the next transportation funding bill levels the playing field so that all modes are competitive and get the same federal match. Gas taxes are going to need to rise — as will transit fares — so get ready for that eventuality. This, of course, requires an improvement in the sloth-like pace of county leaders who thought things were moving to fast… and by too fast we mean two years.

16 Comments so far

  1. northlander December 11th, 2008 5:51 pm

    So with gas down so low why raise fares? Gas taxes don’t need to go up just all the gas tax need to be spent on the highways and not used elsewhere.

  2. Dave December 11th, 2008 6:00 pm

    because the money coming in from the gas tax doesn’t cover the cost of our existing infrastructure, including roads. same amount of roads with less driving and more efficient cars means lower revenue for the DOT.

    federal gas tax revenue will always be spent on transit. period.

  3. patrick December 11th, 2008 6:23 pm

    So, let me get this straight:
    (1) voters don’t want light rail; and
    (2) pols don’t want light rail.

    I guess this site won’t be selling ad space any time soon.

  4. Dave December 11th, 2008 6:33 pm

    glad to know the anti-transit nuts are still out in force. thanks for the encouragement!

    voters did indeed vote down the last plan. polling indicates they want a regional system with regional funding. if that fails, we’ll just try again.

  5. Darren December 11th, 2008 8:08 pm

    It’s very easy someone to be “for” a regional transit system when it’s just a matter of answering a question. And that goes double when the question includes the fact that someone else will be paying for it. But if you asked that same person for a check instead of their vote, you’d see different results.

    I’m glad to see that this “light rail” issue is dying down. It’s bad enough to see KC citizens dragged into that money-waster; I was afraid that my family in JC would be dragged in as well.

  6. Kevin Buchanan December 12th, 2008 9:21 am

    Light rail is hardly a “money waster.” Let’s talk about how many billions are wasted down the sinkhole that is car infrastructure, which doesn’t pay for itself either, you know.

  7. Darren December 12th, 2008 9:48 am

    I agree that a lot of money is wasted on our “car infrastructure,” but the waste is due to the fact that the government is running it. Any system the government sets up — light rail included — always turns out like that. If you’re concerned about waste, and if you think there’s enough need and interest in a light-rail system in KC, you should try asking private enterprise to step in instead of the government.

    But we all know there’s not a need and there’s not enough interest…. which is why light-rail advocates are trying to force people to participate through the use of government force.

  8. matt December 12th, 2008 9:56 am

    yes, the nuts are still out. hopefully with the new leadership in washington the nuts will be totally overwhelmed by some top down common sense.

  9. A happy outsider December 12th, 2008 10:44 am

    Funny and sad how the anti-transit brigade shows up everywhere peddling their nonsense. The first line is always the hardest to get built, but once it happens the universal experience all around the country is that people love trains, ride them in droves, and want more more more. That’s what happened in Dallas, Denver, Houston, Charlotte… pretty much everywhere trains have been built (and those are late-model 20th century sunbelt car towns, not east coast subway cities). The only systems that haven’t been very successful are the ones that don’t go far enough, and even in those places the communities are screaming for extensions.

    You guys in KC are getting the shaft. You’re being lied to by a bunch of paid anti-transit consultants. The ONLY cities in the country that have populations opposed to trains are the ones that don’t have any yet, where the liars can sell their agenda without fear of being proven incorrect.

    Glad I don’t live there.

  10. Streetsblog » Streetsblog Network: No Way to Build a Sidewalk December 12th, 2008 11:49 am

    […] Kansas City, MO, KC Light Rail is hopping mad that there are no items related to public transportation on that city’s […]

  11. Denverite December 12th, 2008 12:43 pm

    Darren, before you go claiming that the government can’t do anything right, consider that there are certain things that the private market won’t touch, yet are still vital to the economy. Most infrastructure, roads and transit included, education, defense…the list goes on. Waiting for the private market to build our infrastructure means doing almost nothing.

    As for the Light Rail issue, neighboring Denver has a good starter light rail system, and is in the process of greatly expanding it. The final system will carry over 250,000 riders per day, and will steadily increase thereafter. Bottom line is, people will take whatever transportation is the most convenient, and an extensive rail system is attractive to a lot of riders. Kansas City is shooting itself in the foot with its stubbornness. Denver is giving people options.

    Incidentally, Denver is asking for no road funding from the stimulus package, and instead only has transit projects listed. However, it is incorrectly labeling certain road projects, such as interchanges, as transit related rather than road related. Plus, most of its road surfacing needs have been met with the latest bond issue in 2006.

  12. northlander December 12th, 2008 9:24 pm

    The cost for Light Rail is to high,and with KC’s low density cost per mile is high as well. Streetcars ;could have done the trick and gone from the south part of town and on to the Airport.Downtown could have been built as a Jackson County project,just like the sports complex. After the first phase Clay County could build their route with Clay County taxes.by this time we would know what to do on transit and Platte County could finish up and do their route and end up at the Airport. If Kansas wanted to connect to KCMO then so be it. Each County would have it’s own transit team to govern,and make repairs and improvements. Money would stay in the county where fare was purchased. Transit team would be picked by voters in that county. No said person would be a lawyer or developer or former elected official.No money could be used to run for transit team. Two forums would be held so voters could make a choice. This is so the vote would not be gotten with money.

    And by the way 99% of the people use the roads and only 1% use transit.So far this has not been about transit,but developement.IF it were about transit the most used routes for buses would have had Light Rail go on those routes first. Remember folks we have over 300 Sq miles,the city need to stop haveing leap frog developements.No more building where we don’t have water&sewer,gas,electricity and phone lines till we have infill.This is why Overland Park does so well.

  13. Darren December 13th, 2008 10:27 am

    I should have been a little more clear in my previous post. I believe we do need a government to do specific things, like the police, court system, and the military. Basically, it should protect the individual rights of its citizens, so it needs the power to retaliate against anybody who starts a fight or steals. That doesn’t mean our current government is doing well at that job, but it must have a role in that limited area.

    Whenever the government operates outside of that role, bad things happen. Such will be the case with light rail in KC (if it ever happens, hopefully not). Just look at the mess it already is, and nothing substantial has even happened yet! Hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, just to build a line that takes people between point A and point B. KC isn’t a huge city, but there are definitely more than two places to go. Even if billions were spent on branching it out, there is no way to offer coverage for our area. The fastest, cheapest, and easiest way for me to get anywhere in the region is to get in my car and drive. Gosh, even if I wanted to get on the light rail system I’m going to have to get in my car and drive to it. It doesn’t make any sense, which is why nobody’s willing to put up the money for a light rail system without being *forced* to do it.

    And that’s the ultimate problem with the proposed Kansas City light rail system. The light rail proponents don’t have to be concerned about the feasibility of the project or persuading you that it will work, they only have to trick a minority of people into voting “yes” so that they can *force* the rest of us to pay for it. I’m sure the writers of this blog and other light role proponents have great ideas on how I should live my life, but what I do with my life should not be their call. If you want to build a light rail system, go for it — just leave the rest of us out of it.

  14. enough December 13th, 2008 12:15 pm

    back to the original post….

    there’s no excuse for the city not including any transit projects on its wish list. apparently they forgot that the city is the biggest single revenue source for transit.

    unfortunately, i don’t think the ata was very assertive about making its needs known so the city could include them.

    as for modot, it’s nice that they included money for 200 buses. (the ata’s share of that would be about 35 buses.) but that was just tossing a bone to non-highway people. it’ll fall off the list once they find out that modot’s share of the stimulus money won’t fund all of their projects.

  15. northlander December 13th, 2008 6:02 pm

    ATA was less than honest when asked questions about Light Rail and Streetcars. You don’t win votes with that. With the city going $80 million in the hole I don’t see how transit would fit in without going more in the hole. It won’t be long before we will have very little city services at this rate. We need to go back to the basics. Stop the TIF’s for now,stop the trails[who will do the upkeep]stop the fighting at city hall,and attend to tdhe eastside crime problem.

  16. enough December 13th, 2008 9:34 pm

    northlander asked:
    “So with gas down so low why raise fares?”

    several reasons:
    - with the economy down, city sales tax collections will be down. that means less city money available for transit.
    - with lower gas prices, plus the economic downturn, there will likely be fewer transit riders. thus, less farebox revenue.
    - ata bus fares are lower than in most other cities. for example, st. louis bus fares will go from $1.75 to $2.00 on january 1, and transfers will go from 50 cents to 75 cents. http://www.metrostlouis.org/Fares/FareChart.asp

    expect a fare increase early in 2009.

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