KC Light Rail

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Chastain appeal rejected

The Missouri Court of Appeals put the final nail in the coffin of Clay Chastain's only successful light rail petition initiative today by denying his appeal. Chastain argued that the city council's repeal of the petition initiative was unconstitutional, but the robes disagreed.

The city's charter was amended years ago to allow the council to undo any petition initiative. Opinions on the wisdom of applying that option in this situation vary. It was, at a minimum, short-sighted to reject Chastain's plan entirely (which was approved with 53% in a low-turnout election) than to put all of our eggs in a similarly-problematic basket in a replacement ballot question (which was swept under the rug with only 44% approval in a tide of "change").

Of course, it all seems obvious in retrospect. The council was simply not given adequate information on the options.

In the interim, KC transit riders endured a fare increase and an unsuccessful attempt to secure state funding to prevent service cuts. Brights spots actually exist, however: County leaders are poking around in the commuter rail attic, the city is getting somewhat serious about bike and pedestrian issues (vital to supporting transit), and SmartMoves is progressing with our Bush-era BRT-lite template (the Troost Avenue corridor is next in 2010).

5 Comments so far

  1. Patrick Tuohey May 12th, 2009 4:37 pm

    Well, now that all remaining appeals have been exhausted, will you please retire this domain and let light rail die with what little dignity it has left?

    Maybe www.kcstreetcars.com or www.kctransit.com are available.

  2. Dave May 12th, 2009 4:48 pm

    “success is often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.”

    - coco chanel

  3. ron mclinden May 12th, 2009 9:29 pm

    the court made the right decision.

    but what if chastain had prevailed? by what mechanism would a severely flawed yet very specific light rail idea be reconciled with reality? how would it be made eligible for the federal funding that clay counted on?

    as for the subsequent city council plan, there were so many things wrong with it that i sometimes wonder if the council actually intended it to fail. realistically, though, the economy then (and still) was probably the biggest factor in voter rejection in 2008.

    keep this blog, dave. it’s aspirational. if there’s one thing that we should keep alive from the 2006 election, it’s that kansas citians like the idea of light rail. now all we have to do is come to some semblance of consensus about what we want it to do for us and what changes in policy and incentives we are willing to put in place along with a light rail plan to make it succeed — both at the polls and in reality.

  4. millie May 13th, 2009 11:35 am

    So the courts are wrong Lite Rail is what we need and what we deserve. Clay is our hero and he deserves to stand out side a supermarket for ever.

  5. northlander May 13th, 2009 5:12 pm

    The City is $85 million in the hole and Mille say we deserve light rail which we can’t pay for. Someone need to go to a accounting class.

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