GRID wrote:Well, I am already getting some solid feedback, here is the letter I wrote...
Commuter rail in KC is simply a waste of time and money. It won’t move enough people, it won’t create any sort of redevelopment opportunities and the KC area just isn’t large enough or congested enough to warrant commuter rail. KC has plenty of railroad right of ways, but they don’t enter the urban core in a way that makes it worthwhile. We need to use this right of way “combined with” building new right of way to create a first class rail transit system.
I do not know if I agree with this part. Living in Europe, I see commuter rail working very well in cities much smaller than KC. Every city over here is a rail hub and the work force for the city is collected from all the surrounding communities via what is essentially commuter rail (regularly scheduled passenger service). While in Zurich (smaller than KC), I stayed in a town well outside of the city and commuted to the city via train. Given parking and congestion and my unwillingness to rent a car, it was the only way to go. Building light rail to serve the myriad of communities on KC's periphery would be prohibitively expense.
My company had an office in suburban London and I travelled out there on what is essentially commuter rail frequently. In about 15-20 miles, the train made about 6-7 stops at stations in suburban cities along the way. The right-of-way was not along commercial/residential streets but through areas much like the RR tracks in KC traverse. It took anywhere between 30-40 minutes to get into the city of London depending on the time of the day. I really do not see this being a problem as long as the service is frequent enough. Time and convenience are of course important but there's one thing you seem to be forgetting; good public transportation can allow a family to reduce the number of cars they need from 2 to 1. Here in the UK, I put up with a lot of inconvenience for the savings offered by having only one car.