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.