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State Avenue recap

KCK residents made it quite clear last night: why have a meeting about public transit at a time when our system won't allow us to get here and back home? Granted, about 80 (edit: UG says 100!) people still showed up, but it's clear that improvements are wanted and needed by KCK residents.

First, some facts about the State Avenue corridor and the current transit situation in KCK:

- Three systems (KCATA's five routes, six routes operated by the Unified Government, and one lonely JO route).
- 1.2 million rides annually (850K on KCATA routes, 213K on UG routes).
- $6 million budget with less than 1% fare recovery (KCATA recovers 15%).
- No Sunday service; very limited Saturday service.
- Transfers required to rest of KCATA system and to routes west of Indian Springs.
- Five routes serving the study area generate about 3,100 rides daily (a tick less than the old #56 was carrying before it was replaced by MAX in 2004).
- Top three routes and ridership: #106 (1000/day), #101 (975/day), #114 (480/day).

Next, some major amenities and attractions along the corridor:

- Downtown KCMO (Power & Light District, Sprint Center, Bartle Hall, MAX)
- Downtown KCK (Unified Government, Federal, and State offices; Memorial Hall; Screenland Granada; Strawberry Hill Museum)
- Indian Springs Center (future development, Children's Museum)
- Kansas City Kansas Community College
- Providence Medical Center
- Village West (Speedway, T-Bone Stadium, Legends, Schlitterbahn, future casino)

Now, the timeline for what will inevitably be a BRT route between downtown KCMO and Village West (even though other "alternatives", such as light rail, will be "discussed"):

- Alternatives Analysis and Locally Preferred Alternative (includes public input) will be completed in 9 months.
- Additional public meetings will be held during the above timeframe.
- Detailed planning will begin in 2008.
- Implementation, based on the Troost BRT timeline, as early as 2010.

Finally, the public input:

- Lots of complaints about interoperability between KCATA, JO, and UG routes (transfers, passes, connections, operating hours).
- Over an hour to Village West, transfer at Indian Springs required (while Village West is considered a tourist attraction, almost everyone placed one dot on the map at that location, and there have been well-publicized issues attracting employees to all of the low-paying retail jobs in such a far-flung location).
- UG routes don't run after 7 p.m.
- Lack of pedestrian and ADA considerations along existing routes and throughout KCK (sidewalks, bus shelters, safe lighting or emergency call boxes, bike lanes).

State Avenue BRT Meeting

Next, the outstanding questions to be answered in future steps:

- Will KCMO residents use this line to get to Village West?
- Will the West Bottoms be served as it is today by #101 and #106? Currently, there is no safe way for pedestrians and bikers to access this part of the city, although the Riverfront Trail is getting there.
- What affect will the redevelopment plan of Indian Springs Mall have on the effort?
- What affect will the future Schlitterbahn and casino additions to Village West have on ridership estimates?
- Will existing KCK routes be reorganized to provide better overall coverage (such as new north/south routes), even if transfers are required?
- How will operation of the new service be funded? It is assumed that construction and bus acquisition will be covered by a Very Small Starts FTA funding.
- Is a single-seat ride possible with the Troost BRT line (SmartMoves' Yellow Line)?
- Will UG address land use planning around transit stops to boost future ridership?

We were intrigued by a question posed recently by the KC Star's Prime Buzz blog: Who will carry the torch for improved transit in the Metro? We answered UG's Joe Reardon, knowing that Johnson County's leaders are still way too mired in the status quo. Mayor Reardon, having been handed the keys to the other development juggernaut in the region, is spearheading this effort with MARC, KCATA, and KDOT and we hope the results are fast, efficient, and well marketed… results that this transit-dependent part of the community deserves.


Reminder: State Avenue meeting this Tuesday

Just a quick reminder that the State Avenue Corridor meeting is at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 9, at the Reardon Center [map] in downtown KCK. Routes #101 and #106 provide evening service from the 10th and Main Transit Center (one block northwest of the 11th/12th and Main MAX stops) to the front door of the Reardon Center.

In addition, two additional MARC meetings to discuss SmartMoves will be held in Kansas City, Missouri, this week:

3:30 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 10
Southtown Council
4875 Troost Ave. [map] [#25, #47]

5 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 11
Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council
3700 Woodland [map] [#35, #39, #53]

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Prospect’s prospects for light rail

Third District activist Airick Leonard West proposes light rail down Prospect Avenue in a piece published yesterday on The Kansas City Post. West brings up an oft-discussed quandary: should light rail serve the areas that already have the highest transit usage? Or should the new infrastructure focus on attracting new riders to the system? And finally, does the answer change depending on whether you're discussing a starter line for a larger system or an expansion line?

West's ViableThird organization will be hosting a session to discuss the Prospect corridor's transit possibilities at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 1 at Pioneer College [map].


One KC Transit & State Avenue Meetings

Another round of MARC's "One KC" citizen engagement meetings focused on transit will be held this week. Users and non-users of transit are welcome.

6:30 p.m., Monday, Oct. 1
Central Resource Library
9875 W. 87th St. [map]
Overland Park, KS

6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 2
Blue Valley Library
9000 W. 151st St. [map]
Overland Park, KS

6:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 4
Olathe Library
201 E. Park St. [map]
Olathe, KS

Yet another round will take place next week on the Missouri side (see the full schedule for details). Also of note next week, the first public meeting surrounding transit improvements in the State Avenue corridor in KCK:

5:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 9
Reardon Center
520 Minnesota [map]
Kansas City, KS

Expect talk to lean towards a BRT implementation along the existing #114 bus route, but hopefully extended to downtown KCMO and beyond to boost ridership from outside of KCK's boundaries (like the SmartMoves yellow line).


One KC Transit Meetings

MARC and the region's transit agencies are hosting a series of public forums with the intent of updating Smart Moves based on the light rail vote. The meeting schedule is here. Tonight's meeting is at the Shawnee Public Library, 13811 Johnson Drive. We appreciate MARC's nod to actually using public transportation to get to a meeting about the very subject.


Light Rail Forum recap

Light Rail Forum at Mohart Center

Light Rail Forum at Mohart Center

After a presentation (with history, definitions, introductions) and a brief Q&A, participants at this week's Light Rail Forum were asked to select destinations on a Kansas City map and where they feel the light rail alignment should run (above). Separately, placards were set up around the room asking participants to prioritize various statements about light rail (below).

Light Rail Forum at Mohart Center

During the initial presentation, KCATA Director Mark Huffer noted that if the Alternatives Analysis stays on schedule and a subsequent vote in the sprint supports light rail and additional bus funding, Kansas City could be in line for federal funding when Congress reauthorizes transportation funding in 2010. The presentation can be found here.

If you attended either session, feel free to share which route you chose and why.


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