TransitKC

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Five years old!

On this day in 2006, our first post appeared on this site. In the past five years, our popularity and productivity have been directly related to whatever transit initiative is making the news. A fluke ballot initiative win for Clay Chastain has turned into a daily obsession and a chance to reconnect with writing. Today, most of our content arrives via Twitter, as has been the case for a few years.

Also on this day, we’re happy to report the downtown streetcar project has progressed to the point where financing is being openly discussed. Regionally, Mike Sanders’ regional rail plan is still in the planning stages and smaller investments in bus routes and equipment are still occurring. The only dark spot is the question looming over Johnson County… will they even continue offering fixed route transit after federal and state money dries up?

Rest assured, we’ll continue to bring you the scoop!

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kclightrail on Twitter

Follow us at http://twitter.com/kclightrail. If you tweet about transit in KC, use the hashtag #kctransit.

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Site issues (again)

We’re investigating the site issues we’ve had this week. Apologies if you tried to read or comment and received database errors. The RSS feed doesn’t appear to be affected.

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Site issues today

Our web hosting service is having some hardware problems today, so please bear with us.

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Orange alert Monday!

Monday’s SkyCast is the first orange alert of the year, which means the air will be hazardous for sensitive groups (the elderly, those with asthma). All others are encouraged to avoid prolonged exposure between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. This condition is our fault (humans cause 50% of ground-level ozone), so please:

- DO NOT MOW
- DO NOT PUMP GAS
- TAKE PUBLIC TRANSIT

KCATA and The JO‘s fares drop to 50 cents on ozone days. Remember when we didn’t have a SkyCast?

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Mayor pumps gas to promote transit

Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser pumped gas (check the photo and video goodness) for customers of the QuikTrip at 43rd and Main today to promote transit, specifically some upcoming meetings where the public can provide input to the regional and KCMO light rail efforts that are underway. Here’s the meeting schedule, starting tonight!

Hosted by MARC
Wednesday, July 23
7-8:30 p.m.

North Kansas City Community Center: 1999 N. Iron Rd. North Kansas, MO [map]

City Council Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
Thursday, July 24th
10:00 a.m.

City Hall, 10th Floor [map]

Hosted by MARC
Thursday, July 24
7-8:30 p.m.

Liberty Community Center: 1600 S. Withers Rd. Liberty, MO [map]

Regional Leaders’ Meeting
Friday, July 25
8:30 a.m.

Gladstone Community Center: 6901 N. Holmes [map]

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$4.00

It’s official.

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Civic group chimes in on Johnson Compromise

The Regional Transit Alliance issued this statement today regarding the plan — we hereby will always refer to it as The Johnson Compromise — put forth yesterday by Councilman Russ Johnson:

The Regional Transit Alliance applauds Kansas City, Missouri City Councilman Russ Johnson for proposing a bold compromise premised upon an initial city vote on a light rail starter line. In November, Kansas City voters can invest in a light rail spine that can connect seamlessly with the broader regional transit vision Mayor Funkhouser and others have started to explore.

Planning for the starter line has been underway for nearly two years. August approval of ballot language for the November election is nearly within our grasp. The federally mandated “Alternatives Analysis” planning process is on track to meet federal requirements for funding, and Councilman Johnson’s proposal appears in great part to trust that process for this new public transit investment in the Kansas City region. The RTA shares that trust and believes that his ¼ cent sales tax proposal will be attractive to voters and the business community. We encourage the City Council to keep its focus on resolving the final details of the starter line for a November vote.

The RTA has comments on two facets of Councilman Johnson’s proposal. First, we encourage the City of North Kansas City to explore its own funding options for extending the starter line to the Kansas City Water Works. This extension will not only be an economic development opportunity for North Kansas City, but it will also allow for development of a park-and-ride facility in Kansas City’s Northland, an attractive feature for Kansas City, Missouri voters north of the river.

Second, we encourage the timely implementation of the Troost MAX transit project rather than streetcars or other modes of transportation. The Troost MAX line has been in the works for more than two years and has now been successfully funded for construction. This MAX line will be operational within the next 18 to 24 months. The Regional Transit Alliances believes that to suspend the project now and re-open the study can result in a loss of project dollars from the federal government and jeopardize Kansas City’s credibility with the Federal Transit Administration.

The Regional Transit Alliance is encouraged by these recent developments and believes that a successful light rail starter line is key to a comprehensive regional transit plan.

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ATA unveils new website

KCATA debuted a significant update to their main website today. There’s a bit of an issue with the CSS (the Trip Planner is invisible to us… yes, we checked multiple browsers!), but we’re sure they’ll figure that out pretty quickly. While it’s a very nice update for regular computer users, it’s still a bit of a mess on mobile devices, including smartphones.

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Transit use hits 50-year high

Not in KC, of course… just nationwide, according to the APTA. A couple of snippets worth noting:

  • “Mass transit use increased by more than 2 percent in 2007 to the highest level in 50 years, with Americans taking more than 10 billion trips on public transport while the number of vehicle miles traveled was flat in the first 10 months of the year.”
  • “Cities with less than 100,000 people also saw a large increase — 6.4 percent — in public transportation use.”

By contrast, KCATA ridership was a little over 15 million in 2007, compared to 46 million* in 1957 (the last year of the streetcar — coincidence? — after which ridership declined almost every year, hitting a low of 13 million in 2001).

* From Monroe Dodd’s A Splendid Ride: The Streetcars of Kansas City, 1870-1957.

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