TransitKC

Senate takes first step on transpo bill rewrite

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (WV) and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (NJ) have created a marker for the next federal transportation bill being drafted by Rep. Jim Oberstar (OR). The marker dictates that the next bill:

  • Reduce national per-capita motor vehicle miles traveled on an annual basis;
  • Cut national motor vehicle-related fatalities in half by 2030;
  • Cut national surface transportation-generated carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2030;
  • Reduce surface transportation delays per capita on an annual basis;
  • Get 20 percent more critical surface-transportation assets into a state of good repair by 2030;
  • Increase the total usage of public transit, intercity passenger rail and non-motorized transport on an annual basis.

What affect does this have on Kansas City’s chances for light rail? Any renewed emphasis on public transit usage, reducing VMT, or cutting carbon emissions would support an increase in funding for urban rail transit, which would in turn help KC’s chances. Most vehicle trips are within cities, so that’s where you get the most bang for the buck (second place would probably be high speed rail in popular 100-500 mile corridors). Current funding formulas would need to change dramatically since they are now focused more on commuting trips and the cost/benefit of serving them with a particular mode.

There have been rumblings, of course, that this is not a top legislative priority this session. We remain hopeful that will not be the case.

As a reminder, KC has a completed Alternatives Analysis for the “north-south” corridor along Main Street. All it takes now is the political will to go back to voters for a new, dedicated funding mechanism or the creation of a public-private partnership (see Portland Streetcar and Detroit M1-Rail).

Oh, and did we forget to mention that Oklahoma City is putting a light rail before voters in December? Yes, Oklahoma City.

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