KC Light Rail

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

Archive for March, 2009

KCATA outlines service cuts

The Star's coverage is here. The list of cuts is here. Submit your comments here. Your city council contact information is here (the city's budget that includes the funding cuts will be adopted today).

On a more personal note, we are severely disappointed in the council's action on transit funding, especially when taking into consideration some of the funding will be redirected to pay for traffic signals. It's an embarrassment that a city the size of Kansas City cannot take such a basic service seriously enough to protect it from raids by a near-sighted public works department and an inept city manager, especially considering there were no federal stimulus available for transit operating costs.

Cuts were indeed inevitable, but it didn't have to go this far. We encourage the KCATA to consider another fare hike to retain night and weekend service that would be completely eliminated on some routes, and to give neighboring cities time to consider supporting the system.


The Next Bailout?

As Kansas City gets ready to finalize its budget that will unnecessarily slash KCATA funding by about $7 million — go ahead, ask our "transit-friendly" city council where that money is actually going! — the rest of the nation's transit operators continue to feel the pain as well. The Wall Street Journal takes time out to recap the heavy-hitters: New York, DC, and San Francisco. In New York, the situation is so dire that riders are call most proposals a "doomsday". Since we have yet to secure a final budget number, it could weeks or months before KC knows the exact impacts of the budget reduction.

As we've mentioned previously, operating assistance did not make it into the final stimulus package. Does it make sense to dangle capital funding in front of agencies that are simultaneously making service cuts and laying off staff? Will Congress wait for the nation's jobless to try and get to work, once they do find a job, to figure out that this is a problem?

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CLEAN-TEA: The next transportation bill

US DOT Secretary Ray LaHood has christened the next transportation authorization bill "CLEAN-TEA" (the last one was "SAFETEA-LU"). Judging from LaHood's comments at this week's National Bike Summit, we really are in for a completely new way of looking at — and funding — transportation at the federal level. Not only is this good for bikes as transportation, but it's definitely going to be good for other alternative modes as well. Previous DOT Secretary Mary Peters was notoriously reported to have said that "bikes aren't transportation."

Trickle down may not work for wealth, but it sure does work for transportation policy. Nearly every decision a state DOT makes is based on whether or not they are subject to federal funding formulas or requirements.


Star shines the light on transit funding

The Star has a write-up today about the city's budget problems and the impact that will have on transit funding this year. In short, cuts are coming. Interesting that ex-light-rail champion Ed Ford had this to say: "There’s no question we’re going to have to break promises we made with voters. It’s just a question of which ones and how many."

We'll remember that rhetoric during the next mayoral election.

Pro-transit forces in Congress were unable to shoehorn transit operating assistance into the final stimulus bill, so it's a story being repeated across the nation. Of course, the severity can be reduced here if the council had enough political capital to stand up to the interests that demand continued city subsidies to regional amenities (American Jazz Museum, Kansas City Zoo, Liberty Memorial, Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Center, and Truman Sports Complex).

At this rate, we'd be better off with a larger fare hike to retain existing service levels and the 17% farebox recovery target. $2 seems to be the new national trend and would raise about $5 million annually.

The city simply cannot continue to starve transit until it suffers from a complete lack of utility.

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The System Map Returns!

Who knows how long it's been — two years, perhaps? — but the KCATA system map is back in action ("exclusively online" we are told).

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The JO to raise fares in May

All local and express routes will rise to $2 each way (from $1.25 and $1.75); commuter routes (K-10, currently $2.50) will rise to $3 each way. Monthly and multi-ride passes will also rise, if approved by the Johnson County Transportation Council and County Commission. Unfortunately, the increased revenue will not address the #1 problem for users: interoperability between our three transit providers (JO, ATA, and UG). More info can be found on page 40 of this PDF. Here's the proposed schedule for the increase:

- JCTC approval to move forward: March 10, 2008
- Notice of fare proposal public meeting: March 12
- Comment period: March 12 through April 10th
- Public Hearing: April 13
- Report to JCTC (at April meeting) April 14
- Recommendation of JCTC to BOCC April 14
- BOCC approval April 30
- Fare Change May 11, 2008

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