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KCATA pleads case for emergency funding

The KCATA and St. Louis Metro transit systems asked a Missouri House committee yesterday for emergency funding to prevent impending service cuts.

KCATA is asking for $14 million to cover shortfalls from reduced sales tax revenues and diversion of transit funds to other uses — all in the face of increased ridership and a recently-enacted fare increase.

The article references a “Ken Kohler”, but we’re pretty sure that it was KCATA’s Mark Huffer doing the legwork at the Capitol, according to information we received from Jeff City.

UPDATE: The article has been corrected and a commenter has confirmed that Bob Kohler was representing KCATA this week in Jefferson City. Also, the request is double the amount of this year’s shortfall, so we’re assuming the $14 million will cover two years of operating assistance, which is in line with most stimulus timelines.

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Could the state save us from the cuts?

St. Louis beats us to the punch again. Short on operating funds? Ask the state government who sits at the bottom of the list for state support of local transit. While Missouri has a shortfall like everyone else, it’s possible that money allocated from the stimulus package could free up some operating support (it would save jobs and continue getting people to jobs, after all).

City Manager Wayne Cauthen — the source of the recommendation for most of KCATA’s funding cut — should contact KC’s state delegation immediately to determine the feasibility of such a request.

Meanwhile, here’s a confirmation from our new US DOT secretary that agencies should not expect operating support directly from the feds.

UPDATE: Response from State Senator Jolie Justus… “The KCATA just made a direct request for stimulus dollars from the state. The KCATA general manager was down here today lobbying for support. I’m hoping both cities will have their requests granted.”

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"Our number one legislative initiative"

Unfortunately, that isn’t a quote from any local politician. Try Texas.

Monday morning, a group of lawmakers is expected to introduce the Texas Local Transportation Act. The act would create a transportation district made up of 12 counties, which would have the power to levy taxes and fees in order to fund the Rail North Texas project and other roadway improvements.

And still we wait for one (or many) voices to support a serious regional transit initiative. The specter of a failing economy doesn’t seem to be holding people back elsewhere.

The transit “and other roadway improvements” approach has been used in several other metros, most notably LA and Seattle. The trick has always been to get the right mix of transit (more transit than roads usually wins at the ballot box, when they’re combined). Could that be the right approach for the reportedly road-loving KC metro? And if we’re really going to do a regional plan, is three counties enough?

UPDATE: Here’s some editorial support for the Texas plan.

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Round-up: Welcoming 2009

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Metro Route Changes (effective 1/5/09):

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Round-up: This week in light rail

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Light rail construction impact to business

Since the opposition has made a lot of fuss about the actual construction period of light rail affecting business owners — pay no mind to the long-term benefits to the community — we decided to hit up our City Transit Advocates compatriot at Light Rail AZ to see how Phoenix’s outreach program for affected businesses worked for them. Construction on the 20-mile starter line is complete; the line is in testing now and will open in December.

So, straight from the source is a post about their first expansion (already!) and some of the tools Phoenix used to mitigate construction impacts.

Regarding the specifics of financing options for these businesses:

The city of Phoenix offers several different types of loans to corridor business owners.

Expansion Assistance and Development is a collateral reserve deposit that can help Phoenix business owners meet a lender’s collateral requirements. Collateral enhancements up to $150,000 are available at no cost to METRO corridor businesses or to their lenders. These enhancements can be used with any commercial loan, including Small Business Administration loans and lines of credit.

The New Markets Loan provides below-market rates on loans to stimulate economic growth in low-income areas, which includes most of the METRO corridor. Qualifying investments may include office, industrial, retail or mixed-use projects with funding approval for construction, acquisition or rehabilitation. Project minimums are $1 million and loan repayment terms range from one to seven years.

Community-based micro loans are available through the Self-Employment Loan Fund and Prestamos, a lending subsidiary of Chicanos Por La Causa. The Self-Employment Loan Fund helps small businesses access capital in amounts ranging from $200 to $35,000. Prestamos offers loans ranging from $2,000 to $250,000. You can also get free business advice when you apply for these loans.

So there’s an easy way to get through this and hard way. What’s it gonna be, Main Street?

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New Portland MAX station features green design

A new station that’s part of a Portland MAX light rail extension will feature wind turbines, solar panels, salvaged materials, and bio-filtration of storm water run-off.

The wind turbines — designed and manufactured in Oregon and perched atop the catenary poles near the station — will generate 275 watts. The solar array will generate 50 kilowatts, enough to run all lighting on site. The bio-filtration allows the station to be untethered from the city’s storm water system.

The new station is part of the publicly-funded MAX light rail system, not the public-private Portland Streetcar system — an urban circulator — that serves the central city.

A common complaint about light rail is that the construction impact trumps any reduction in pollution or congestion realized by increased transit ridership. Projects like this address that complaint. However, opponents who trumpet the construction impact of light rail rarely include the manufacture of cars or the production and supply chain impacts of oil and gasoline in their estimates.

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Round-up: This week in light rail

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Round-up: This week in light rail

Local:

National:

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Round-up: This week in light rail

Local:

National:

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