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Archive for the 'Bus/BRT' Category

Bar “trolley” an affront to KC public transit

City Hall has kicked public transportation in the nuts, yet again.

Instead of providing additional funding to KCATA to extend service hours on the weekend — as is done in many other cities nationwide — the City Council has given $195,000 to a private operator to run a tourist "trolley" that duplicates existing transit services.

Good intentions aside, it shows how disconnected our elected officials are from the state of transit in KC — easy to do when driving from the attached garage at home to the underground garage at City Hall. This effort continues to propagate the myth that city buses are for poor people and that tourists and suburbanites should be coddled in faux streetcars — that go door-to-door. Several bus lines (MAX, #51-Broadway, and #57-South Oak) already connect Kansas City's various entertainment districts, serve a larger area, and easily connect with other routes and park-and-rides… all with taxpayer dollars.

Officially, KCATA doesn't see this is as competition. That is 100% wrong. City funds are scarce and KCATA's funding continues to drop in every budget year, even though demand is growing. There's a reason other cities aren't doing this.

By the way, the "trolley" will cost you $15 to ride. Save yourself some change and buy a day pass on the MAX for $3. It stops at Waldo, Brookside, Plaza, Westport, Crossroads, Power & Light, and the River Market. Out past midnight? Take one of the many cabs right to your front door and avoid the drunken foolishness.

UPDATE: Here's the Star's version of the route map, compared to MAX.


Live-tweeting the TIGER press conference

We'll be covering the follow-up TIGER press conference in Mission tomorrow at 10 a.m. Follow us at http://twitter.com/kclightrail. Local officials from Johnson and Wyandotte counties — recipients of most of the transit portion of the TIGER grant — will hopefully provide more detail on when improvements will begin and whether there will be operational support for expanded bus service along the Metcalf and State corridors.

There's also a major press conference in Topeka on Thursday to unveil the Amtrak feasibility study for passenger rail service in Kansas. We'll be at KDOT headquarters covering that event as well.

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Basketball and the bus

The best way to avoid the crush of basketball fans downtown over the next month is to take the bus to the game. All of the upcoming Big 12, NCAA, and NAIA events this month are steps away from nearly every route in the metro.

First, use Google Transit to plan your trip, then read on while we demystify Kansas City's transit scene.


If you live close to the MAX route, you're in luck: KCATA is increasing service every day of the Big 12 Tournament (March 10-14). If coming from farther afield, park free in any of the free garages on the Plaza (the two closest to the Plaza MAX stop are across the street from each other, by Jack Stack Barbecue). There is also a free park-and-ride at 74th & Wornall, but the MAX doesn't run as frequently south of the Plaza.


  • Sprint Center is within a three-block walk of almost every bus route that serves downtown. The entrance on Oak Street is less congested. Grand Boulevard will be closed March 10-14, likely leading to large crowds at the main entrance. Riders should be aware that the "Arena" stop is temporarily west of Grand.
  • Municipal Auditorium is next to Bartle Hall, one block west of Broadway, and best served by MAX (13th & Wyandotte) or #25. Most other KCATA routes require a bit more walking, but none more than 6 blocks.


We highly recommend buying a day pass when you get on board. It's only $3, which covers your inbound and outbound ride, and can be bought on board. Bus drivers can't make change, but they can give you a change card for any bills or coins you have, that can be used for future rides.


The best thing about Google Transit isn't that it gives you the fastest trip at your desired departure or arrival time – online trip planners have been doing that for years — it's the combination of displaying bus stops (the tiny blue bus icon) with their corresponding routes (click on that icon) on a map, and Street View.

Let's say the bus stop closest to you is only served by one route, but the one two blocks in the other direction is served by three routes (therefore offering more departures)… that's a powerful tool for transit users. Use Street View to see exactly what the bus stop's surroundings are like; is there a shelter, a bench, or even a sidewalk?

If you're a smartphone user, download Google Maps for mobile right now. Transit directions are now available for iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, WebOS, Nokia, and Windows Mobile.


Since many of the games will be during the weekday, using The JO to get downtown from Johnson County is also a great idea. Plan accordingly, as most routes don't run after 6 p.m. We recommend using the park-and-ride at 6000 Lamar due the number of routes available and the shorter travel time.

All JO routes are also on Google Transit. The JO's fare is $2 and they accept transfers from KCATA. However, they do not accept KCATA passes nor do they provide change cards.

Enjoy your hoops!


TIGER: Winners/losers, streetcar (not) in play?

While some media outlets thought otherwise, it's not entirely clear after today's TIGER announcement that the downtown streetcar is completely unfunded. Unfortunately, it takes a bit of math to deduce where the entire $50 million award will go. The full request [PDF] was $88.761 million.

In practical terms, the entire amount will go to MARC to be distributed to various agencies who handle the Green Impact Zone of Missouri (GIZMO) and transportation services in the metro — the latter being handled exclusively by KCATA, The JO, and the Unified Government of Wyandotte County.

Of the $50 million awarded to KC today, however, GIZMO and bus corridor improvements cover only about $48 million. The Bike KC, Front Street interchange, and West Bottoms freight rail projects were not specifically mentioned, which leaves the remaining transit project — design and engineering for the downtown modern streetcar — up in the air. We have yet to hear from KCATA about their take on today's event.

Streetcar awards were confirmed for Dallas, Tucson, New Orleans, and Portland. Streetcar requests that didn't make the cut were Cincinnati, Boise, Fort Worth, Salt Lake City, and Atlanta.

Another smaller round of streetcar-specific funding using unspent transit dollars — not stimulus — will be awarded later this year; Kansas City is unable to apply for that program because it has not delivered the local match required.

As for the other nationwide winners and losers in today's announcement [PDF], Streetsblog, The Infrastructurist, and The Transport Politic have excellent posts that cover the big picture.

Hope you enjoyed our live tweets. We also finally figured out video (see above), and MARC has plenty of pictures.

UPDATE: KCATA confirmed Thursday morning that the streetcar element was not funded. Their site has been updated with details about the bus corridor improvements.


KCATA: More bad news for 2010

The Star reports that KCATA's 2010 budget will have plenty of bad news for transit users: fare increases, service cuts, and depleting reserves.

Fixed route services have been spared, unlike in this year's budget, but the "swing shift" service — providing taxi rides to late night workers after regular service hours — will be cut.

General fares, now $1.50, would rise to $1.75 if diesel fuel rises above $3 per gallon. Share-a-Fare rates would increase, as would ozone day fares.

Even worse is news that the agency's reserves would be depleted by 2014 unless new revenue is secured. There is no silver lining yet for new revenue, but there are state and federal efforts that may provide relief.

At the federal level, climate change legislation may provide funding for "clean transportation" using revenues from the cap-and-trade system that will control greenhouse gas emissions. A new transportation bill is in limbo, with no indication operational funding would be available.

Regarding state assistance, KCATA General Manager Mark Huffer indicated a new transportation initiative is on the horizon, but that effort has yet to report on what funding would be available for transit. Missouri currently ranks near the bottom in state transit funding.

Locally, city leaders continue to passive-aggressively underfund KCATA by using money from the 1/2-cent transportation sales tax — the one with no sunset — for "other transportation uses". A separate 3/8-cent "bus tax" was renewed in 2008. The TIF orgy of the last decade also hasn't helped maintain stable funding.


Round-up: This week in local transit

  • Kansas City's Hail Mary pass (Prime Buzz)
  • ATA plans to cut some service from Wyandotte to Johnson counties (Kansas City Star)
  • Audio ads will soon debut on buses (Kansas City Star)
  • Upgrades coming for North Oak Trafficway (Kansas City Star)
  • Sen. Bond secures $2 million for KCATA bus replacement (scroll to bottom of article) (RealEstateRama)
  • UG holding special meeting Monday (Kansas City Kansan)
  • Transportation Outlook 2040 Call for Projects (MARC)
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