TransitKC

Archive for the 'Events' Category

Mike Sanders to appear on KCUR at 11 a.m.

Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders will be on KCUR’s Up To Date this morning to discuss his commuter rail proposal and other county issues (charter review, elections, taxes, etc.). The show begins at 11 a.m. on 89.3 FM and is also available as a live stream. Here’s a Rapid Rail Presentation of Sanders’ PowerPoint slides, in case you want to bone up before calling in.

We’ll bet you a KCATA monthly pass that Clay Chastain will call in, given that Sanders has refused to face-off in a duel debate over the merits of each plan.

Hat tip to the new KC transit blog, Transit Action Network!

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Clay Chastain at Union Station

Clay Chastain
Photographer Eric Bowers captured Clay Chastain during his petition drive at Union Station on Saturday, which was also National Train Day. Chastain gathered about 1,000 signatures, but announced today he’d be scaling back the proposal.

Earlier in the week, Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders made a competing pitch to the Kansas City City Council; the Council tentatively agreed to support the Sanders plan [PDF] and is considering a change in the petition process that would require a financial statement from the city auditor for each petition initiative submitted to voters.

Photo used with permission.

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Chastain to air radio spot, hold petition rally

We received this in email this morning:

PRESS RELEASE

April 22, 2010

Clay Chastain

Once again, we are exercising our right under the Constitution to petition our government for grievances.

Our grievance is that Kansas City’s government has failed to provide the people a modern, efficient, and attractive transit system to move about the city that saves people money, protects the environment, and helps stimulate the local economy.

Included in this press release is the text and the audio of a radio spot advertising this effort and informing the voters of Kansas City where they can come to sign the light rail and charter change initiative.

This new radio spot will air today at 5:52p.m on KMBZ radio and continue to run as funds allow up to the petition signing rally at Union Station on May 8 from 9:00am to 3:00pm.

In the past, people have complained that they did not know where to find us to sign light rail petitions. So, we are giving the public a one-day opportunity to come to us.

Thank you for any assistance you can provide in informing the public of this most important civic matter.

The radio spot is here [MP3].

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Crossing the river is about to get easier

MoDOT broke ground today on Kansas City’s first, safe Missouri River crossing for pedestrians and bicycles… ever.

See the video above for the Heart of America Bridge makeover.

Believe it or not, crossing the river on foot or bike today is a very dicey affair — unlike almost all other river cities. There is literally no room on the Broadway Bridge, Heart of America traffic zooms along at 50+ mph, and MoDOT slammed the door on ped/bike access on the brand-new Paseo Bridge.

The Heart of America crossing will be barrier-separated, although users will need to start their trip on 3rd Street in the River Market or on Burlington Street in North Kansas City. Auto users are treated to a plethora of access options.

This new crossing is even more necessary when you consider the limited transit options connecting the two halves of Kansas City — bus service is limited after 6 p.m., and non-existent on Sundays.

The HOA bridge had been tagged as the river crossing in most of the light rail plans that crossed into the northland. However, it was deemed in recent plans to be incapable of handling full light rail vehicles and would need to be rebuilt.

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Midwest HSR meeting this weekend

We’ll be attending the Midwest High Speed Rail Association’s Annual Meeting this weekend in Chicago and will do our best to offer live coverage via Twitter.

This event tends to be heavily focused on Illinois, but there will be an overview of passenger rail projects funded by the Recovery Act (which includes Missouri). There will also be an overview of a French proposal for 220 mph service in the Midwest, which includes a link to Kansas City.

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KDOT, Amtrak release passenger rail study

The Kansas Department of Transportation and Amtrak released a feasibility study today outlining costs and ridership potential for a new state-sponsored passenger rail route between Kansas City and Fort Worth.

Four alternatives were studied, daytime and nighttime, each with varying price tags and connections to existing Amtrak services. The clear winner is Alternative 3 — a daytime train that provides a direct, 12-hour trip between Fort Worth and Kansas City — but the Kansas Legislature must decide which option to advance for state and federal funding. Alternative 3 has the highest ridership (174,000) and highest capital cost ($479 million).

Any option terminating in KC would use Amtrak’s existing facility at Union Station. Station stops include Lawrence, Topeka, Emporia, Wichita, and Oklahoma City.

The chosen option will need to win political and financial support from Oklahoma and Texas, which will also benefit from the additional service.

Annual operating costs for all four options range from $3.2 to $8 million. Missouri currently pays Amtrak $8 million to operate two round-trips between KC and St. Louis. Oklahoma and Texas share the $2 million cost of one daily round-trip between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth.

This week also marked the first official legislative approval for the effort: SB 409, authorizing KDOT to enter into passenger rail agreements, was approved by both chambers and is on it’s way to Gov. Mark Parkinson for signature.

The Lawrence Journal-World has the best recap of today’s press conference. History of this effort can be found at northflyer.org/.

UPDATE: We also have comments about the study from Northern Flyer Alliance President Deborah Fischer-Stout about the study.

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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.

MAX

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.

VENUES

  • 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.

FARES & PASSES

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.

GOOGLE TRANSIT

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.

THE JO

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!

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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.

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BREAKING: Transportation Secretary LaHood in KC this week

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will be in KC this week, as well as Los Angeles and Tucson. All three cities had downtown modern streetcar components in their TIGER grant applications. Grant winners were Congressionally mandated to be announced by Feb. 17.

It’s likely that the appearance location will relate to a part of the application, which could include the Green Impact Zone, the riverfront, or Union Station (which would be on the streetcar route and conveniently makes a great photo op).

UPDATE: Here’s an article detailing LaHood’s Thursday appearance in Tucson.
UPDATE 2: The White House has confirmed that LaHood will be in Kansas City tomorrow, along with stimulus-related appearances by other cabinet members. Still no official word on where the KC event will take place, but we’ve received unofficial word that it will be in the Green Impact Zone, not Union Station.
UPDATE 3: MARC has just confirmed the event will take place at 10:30 a.m. CST at the Green Impact Zone offices, 4600 Paseo. Mayor Mark Funkhouser and US Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver will also be present.

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Live-tweeting the Sanders presentation

We’ll be live-tweeting Mike Sanders’ Regional Rail presentation at the Central Exchange today. Follow along at http://twitter.com/kclightrail, starting at 11:45 a.m. CST.

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