KC Light Rail

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

Archive for June, 2009

Take MoDOT’s long-distance bus survey

Often forgotten in transit circles is the long-distance, or inter-city, bus — especially in KC since stations are nearly invisible. Greyhound and Jefferson are still serving more passengers here than Amtrak (from a small-yet-tidy facility at 11th and Troost; upstart MegaBus is a hidden gem for cheap trips to Columbia, St. Louis, or Chicago (from a lonely bus stop pole at the 3rd and Grand park-and-ride… don't blink!).

Options within the state are fairly limited, however, so MoDOT is asking for your input on experiences and needs for possible expansion of LD bus service within the state and the area.

If you've actually used the services that the market provides KC today, you know connectivity is a major issue. St. Louis has resolved this with the new Gateway Multimodal Center (combining LD and local bus, light rail, taxi, and Amtrak). Ideally, all services should be combined at Union Station's existing footprint, but that would probably require an ownership change (transit hubs aren't big profit centers).


New transpo bill dead this session

Congressional leaders and the White House declared this week that the new transportation reauthorization bill released Monday is dead for this session because there is no agreement on how the $500 billion proposal can be funded. Congress will take up the new bill in the 2011 session.

What exactly does that mean for transportation in KC and the rest of the country?

a) DOTs, municipalities, and transit agencies put long-range plans not fully funded by the stimulus package (ARRA) on hold.

b) Congress must plug a $20 billion hole this year in the Highway Trust Fund — which pays for roads and transit — due to falling gas tax revenues. This is essentially an 18-month extension of SAFETEA-LU, the last authorization that began (also late) in 2005. This is in addition to the $8 billion infusion that game from the general fund last year.

c) Politicians realize that there is actually political support for raising the gas tax to fund infrastructure and transit improvements (i.e. perhaps wait until mid-terms are essentially over).

The good news for transit actually has nothing to do with this bill, but another bill that is working its way through the House today — Waxman-Markey, also known as the "cap and trade bill" or "climate change bill" — assuming your media outlet of choice is even covering it (OMG MJ!). Check this quote from the Streetsblog mother ship:

The climate bill gives the states 10 percent of its carbon emissions allowances, the total worth of which is projected to hit $70 billion by 2010, to invest in energy-efficiency projects such as solar power or "smart" electricity grids.

Today's [June 24] agreement allows 10 percent of those state allowances — yes, 10 percent of 10 percent — to help pay for transit expansions, new bike trails, or any other transportation efficiency project.

It's at least something, but it won't come soon enough to help stop service cuts slated to kick in this Sunday.


New transportation bill released

After some delay, the full text of the next transportation bill is here [PDF], thanks for Transportation For America. Highlights will surely be available in the next day or so as the blogosphere picks through each page.

NOTE: There is currently a disconnect between Congress and the White House whether this bill will stay on the legislative calendar this year (or even next year, for that matter).

NOTE 2: So yeah, forgot to address our month-long hiatus. We had a nice car-free vacation, took some time to refocus, and are now back in the swing of things. Expect regular posts going forward.

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