Car-Free & Carefree, Part 1

By Joe Medley

I’ve long felt that one of the problems with public transit in Kansas City is that area residents cannot imagine life without cars. The editorial pages of area newspapers first gave me this impression during the debates surrounding Clay Chastain’s early ballot initiatives. Recent events have reinforced this impression.

At one of the public light rail meetings, a midtown resident thought that buildings would be torn down so that the number of car lanes wouldn’t need to be reduced. Eric over at Let’s Go KC told me that in another meeting, residents complained about loosing parking on Main until he pointed out that they could just take the light rail line to get where they are going. I’ve also responded to comments on blogs and news articles about light rail that tax dollars should go to things that “everybody can use.” (I guess it never occurs to them that a restricted transit line would be just as illegal as a restricted neighborhood.)

What these stories illustrate is that people do not imagine themselves getting around any way other than by car. I’m hoping to change these impressions. That’s what this series of blog entries is about.

This coming weekend, I’m taking a trip to St. Louis for a meeting. I was happy to discover that I can do the whole trip by bus, train, and light rail. I decided to chronicle my experiences as close to real time as possible to help area residents imagine life without cars, and to stimulate discussions about alternative modes of transportation.

My posts from the road will begin early Friday morning when I walk from my house to the bus stop at the end of the block. They will continue through a train ride out of Union Station and through a weekend in St. Louis, ending Sunday afternoon when I return to Union Station and catch the next bus to the end of my block.


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