KC Light Rail

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Archive for the 'Bus/BRT' Category

Troost BRT nets more federal funding

Missouri Sen. Kit Bond has confirmed that the Troost BRT project will receive another $6 million in federal funding. The press release notes the ATA's aging fleet while repeating the myths that MAX has signal priority and exclusive lanes.

Humorous side note: The Business Journal brief incorrectly notes that this money will help the ATA buy 100 buses; obviously they haven't been shopping for buses lately!

Regardless, this is very good news for a project that was part of Kansas City's only hope for improved transit before November 2006. Recent discussions about light rail on Troost have fizzled, in lieu of the route the ATA was already planning, thus eliminating the concerns that this BRT expansion was threatened.


Wanna know why regional funding is necessary?

Check this article in the Lee's Summit Tribune. Basically, LS wants to add another trip on the standing-room-only route #152 but doesn't want to foot the entire bill since it makes stops in Raytown. A regional transit tax would eliminate this kind of squabbling and reduce pressure on the general fund in smaller municipalities.


KCATA offers “How To Ride” clinics + our tips

In advance of this year's Dump The Pump day on June 19, the KCATA is offering a few How To Ride clinics. Since no human is born with this knowledge and it's not taught in any school, we all must learn it somehow. If you work anywhere between the loop and the Plaza you really have no excuse not to try Dump The Pump for one day. Here's a few of our favorite tips if you're new to riding:

Bike + Bus — Since all KC buses have bike racks on the front, there's also little excuse if you or your job aren't right on a route — even if you have to cross the river. The JO also has bike lockers (bring your own lock) at some major stops.

Change Cards — KCATA is one of a handful of transit operators that doesn't require exact change. Hand the driver a $5/10/20 bill, ask for a change card, and you basically get a debit card for bus fares in return, minus the fare for that trip. If you start riding at least once a day, it's probably time to upgrade to a monthly pass.

Online Trip Planner — Now powered by Google Transit and far more friendly and familiar. Caution: The JO hasn't joined in yet; gotta navigate schedules or call the regional call center.

Exiting at the Rear — Even if the bus isn't full, it speeds boarding dramatically if there isn't a line of people waiting to exit the bus through the same tiny door. Most buses have front and rear doors, the latter may require you to push to exit.

Back-Up Plan — If you're using a route that doesn't run all day, make sure you have a back-up plan. Having a bike as part of your trip makes this less painful, but asking a co-worker who lives nearby (or near a more frequent bus route) to be your back-up is easiest.

Have Fun — Not looking forward to a longer-than-usual trip or layover? Plan to stop for coffee or a snack on the way or wherever you make a transfer. Also, don't forget your iPod or PSP (or if you're old school, get your favorite book, magazine, or newspaper). There are lots of ways to kill time when someone else is doing the driving.

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A love letter to JO riders

In what has to be the straw that might just break Johnson County Transit's back, riders have been reminded to make space on overcrowded suburban buses:

ROUTE: K-10, B, C, L, N, S

DATE: June 4, 2008


As the price of gas continues to climb, so does JO ridership. We are so happy to have new riders, but it is creating issues with our buses being near – and sometimes over – seating capacity. Johnson County Transit is aware of these routes being overcrowded and we are working on a solution. Please be aware that buses may change according to ridership. The largest buses we have in our fleet are older buses and they seat a total of 43 riders.

The simple solution may be to add more runs, but currently we are out of vehicles and there are no additional funds in the budget to add service.


- As ridership continues to grow, please be aware that there may be people standing on buses.
- Please do not put your personal items in a seat, hold them on your lap so others can sit.
- Please be courteous to those that may have a disability. Remember, not all disabilities are visible, so if someone asks you to move, they are probably disabled. The seats behind the driver are reserved for those that are elderly or disabled.
- If you can wait an additional 15 minutes for the next bus, please do so. Not all routes have this flexibility, but it can help spread out our ridership, making everyone more comfortable during their ride.

Thanks for your patience and cooperation. For further information, questions, or comments, please feel free to contact us at (913) 782-2210 or by visiting www.thejo.com.

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Will the bus tax be exempted from TIF?

We stumbled on this little piece of legislation approved by the Missouri General Assembly that plugs a leak in the recently approved 3/8-cent bus tax in KCMO: SB 1131. Seems it's simply waiting for Governor Matt Blunt's signature. We posted earlier that flat sales tax proceeds + higher fuel costs does not a happy transit authority make, so we might have to rescind that calculation if this does indeed pass muster with the Governor. From a Prime Buzz article before the election:

The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority will get an estimated $22 million after money is taken out for tax increment financing. Officials estimated the gross amount generated by the tax at $25 million to $27 million.

If you recall, the only vocal opposition to the tax that voters passed overwhelmingly in August was a shadowy group whose complaint was that the tax wasn't exempt from TIF — as opposed to simply being anti-tax or anti-transit.

We just hope he doesn't send his approval in email. Snap!


Are buses really cheaper to operate?

One of the overlooked stories in all of the media coverage about skyrocketing gas prices is the price of diesel fuel. Yes, it's exactly $1 more per gallon in the KC metro and surpassed $4 long ago. Since KC's transit operators run diesel buses exclusively, this has to be hitting hard (or at least scaring the pants off those who know when their fuel contracts need renewed).

We were prompted to bring this up while reading an update on Charlotte's fledgling light rail line that opened late last year. Buried in an this update about the line's success is the following statement: "Operating Lynx [light rail] is cheaper than buses, especially in the wake of a surge in fuel prices." So subtract the capital cost — which is substantially higher upfront for light rail, although the equipment lasts longer and feds provide matching funds — and you are now achieving cost parity for operations. Coincidentally, Charlotte's transit agency is about to ask for a fare increase to cover the shortfalls caused by rising diesel costs.

In short, don't be surprised to see a fare increase before light rail starts running in KC… just not before November! The fare bump to $1.25 occurred in early 2006 when gas was probably around the $2 mark. Factor in basically-flat sales tax revenue and it's not a pretty picture for the near term.


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