KC Light Rail

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

Archive for April, 2009

Round-up: This week in peripheral transit issues

We're not touching the Clay Chastain story this time until the city's attorneys vet his plan before he starts collecting signatures.

Federal Surface Transportation Bill – Rep. Oberstar continues to pledge on-time delivery and passage of the "son of SAFETEA-LU". Even though it will cover all surface modes — light rail, passenger rail, etc… not just highways — transportation planners continue to ask for lop-sided amounts for highway spending, even though VMT continues to decline.

High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail – Expect interim improvements over many years to get consistent speeds (79 mph) and reliability before we ever get bullet trains (150+ mph) to St. Louis. Regardless, it's door-to-door trip time, reliability, and frequency that count (not train speed). UPDATE: A new siding in California, MO, broke ground today.

KCATA Rescue – Not gonna happen, unless the Obama administration slaps down the state legislature's effort to use stimulus funds as tax refunds (we call it the South Carolina Reach-Around). Fare hike took effect March 1, service cuts begin June 28 (just in time for Ozone Days). Thanks again, Wayne!

Imagine KC – If you missed the live broadcast last week of the KCPT special that included lots of transit talk (and neat videos), you can catch up on it here.

Pedestian/Bicycle Counts – Would you believe it if we told you that Kansas City has never counted pedestrians or bicyclists anywhere for any reason? Well, it's unfortunately very true. A trial count was held last week with formal participation in a nationwide count coming this fall.

Missouri River Crossing – It's also quite unfortunate that there is no safe river crossing for pedestrians or bicyclists, especially with anemic off-peak bus service as the only non-car option. Thankfully, stimulus funding to the rescue! MoDOT is accelerating plans to rehab the Heart of America bridge with a bike path.

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Service cuts approved by ATA board

Article is here. List is here. Cuts will take effect June 28 if the state doesn't come through with $5 million in aid.

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Legislature ponies up $5m for ATA

According to breaking news from The Star, about half of the ATA's deficit for the year. St. Louis would get $20 million, about half of their deficit.

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State rescue for ATA shortfall “possible”

Prime Buzz notes that state funding to prevent looming service cuts in KC is "possible", but not "probable." Why our legislature continues to view every issue with a city vs. rural lens is beyond us. Last we checked, the rural cats were still pretty fat.


Commuter rail planning gets serious

After a lot of budget distractions and hand-wringing about oversight, county leaders are seemingly serious about at least the option of commuter rail in the metro.

Commuter rail has already been studied along all of these routes (probably more than once), but we have new players and new players need new data to take to voters. The 2002 MARC study [PDF] looked seriously at three trains each way daily on two existing rail corridors on the Missouri side: Kansas City Southern's KC-Odessa line and Union Pacific's KC-Pleasant Hill line (the latter already carries Amtrak's Missouri River Runner trains). That study also recommended that Union Station become the "center city terminal". Kansas City Southern has been the most vocal about the commuter rail concept on their tracks. Union Pacific, on the other hand, usually plays hardball and is well-known as one of the least friendly railroads to passenger rail.

The BNSF line between KC and Topeka was also considered in the 2002 study, but obviously will not be part of the Missouri-only regional discussion. That route, which currently carries Amtrak's Southwest Chief, is being studied by KDOT for expanded inter-city service to Wichita and beyond.

So how can commuter rail work in KC since the jobs are dispersed everywhere? Recent studies indicate that downtown loop's share of metro jobs is around 10% and it's about a mile from Union Station. A light rail starter line between Plaza (the other hot job spot) and the River Market (perhaps even North Kansas City) would distribute a lot more people more efficiently if they arrive at Union Station and need to make one last connection.


Transportation Committee 2.0

The City Council's Transportation & Infrastructure Committee is now blogging. Commenting is not enabled.

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