KC Light Rail

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

Archive for January, 2009

City Hall cleared in light rail ethics probe

The Mayor, his staff, and some city council members were cleared this week in an state ethics investigation triggered by the opposition to the November light rail campaign.

The city auditor is still investigating the allegations, which involved the statute that prevents elected officials or their staff from using municipal property or time to campaign for ballot initiatives.

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ACTION: Transit operating assistance & the stimulus

transit cuts map

Please call Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), the Chair of the House Rules Committee, before Tuesday at 3:30 p.m., to let her know you support the inclusion of operating assistance to transit agencies in the economic stimulus package. Why? Because it doesn't make sense to hire construction workers while you're firing transit workers (who, you know, take a lot of people to jobs every day). Click on the map above to see the nationwide impact this funding would have (and all to save a paltry tax cut to appease fiscal conservatives).

Our own ATA is at risk of losing around $7 million next budget year due to the drop in sales tax revenue, increased TIF payments, and potential redirection of portions of the 1/2-cent "transportation" tax to other purposes. This means reduction in service and lay-offs, in addition to the already-announced fare increase.

Hat tip to our Streetsblog mother ship!

UPDATE: It appears the amendment for transit operating assistance has failed. Calls are no longer needed to Rep. Slaughter.

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City Manager proposes transit cuts

KCMO City Manager Wayne Cauthen delivered devastating news to the ATA this week: your budget is getting cut as well. Cauthen is recommending $42.3 million, down from $49.6 million this fiscal year. Read about it here. No indication yet what services or routes would be affected.

We'll have commentary regarding the budget situation tomorrow.

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Parks Board approves Troost BRT enhancements

While the remaining public works improvements for the Troost BRT line are still being held in the City Council's Transportation & Infrastructure committee (what gives, Russ?), the Parks Board yesterday approved streetscape improvements around the intersections that are under their jurisdiction, namely the boulevards that intersect Troost Avenue.

Coincidentally, there is no mention of concerns about buses crossing Brush Creek, whereas light rail elicited opposition last year from Parks Board commissioner Aggie Stackhaus.

It's interesting to note how far we've come as a city with sustainable infrastructure, at least in concept. The enhancements at Linwood, Armour, Brush Creek, Cleaver II, and Manheim consist of street trees and rain gardens — all staples of the "green" changes to the overflow control plan [PDF] the city's water services department is submitting to the EPA. Too bad the motivation was not making transit more attractive for residents, but we'll take what we can get.

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2008 ridership tops 16 million mark

KCATA announced last week that ridership hit an estimated 16.5 million in 2008. Too bad city sales tax revenues are down, forcing the agency to increase fares. Fortunately, there are no major service cuts like many peer cities are experiencing.

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More ideas for a green stimulus

Read the full TPM post. We really like the idea of pay-by-the-mile auto insurance (good for business!) and reducing transit fares nationwide to $1 to spur ridership, although neither of these ideas has been floated as part of the economic stimulus package that's expected to pass in Congress next month. We are confident, however, that the number of voices speaking out for a greener stimulus is actually having an effect.

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