Making public transit free

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WoodDraw
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Making public transit free

Post by WoodDraw » Fri Feb 23, 2018 10:19 pm

Is this a discussion we can have?

Could we start a study on paying for KC transit on a citywide system similar to the streetcar?

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Re: Making public transit free

Post by kboish » Fri Feb 23, 2018 10:35 pm

Here is their 2017 Budget

Passenger revenues totaled $11,079,117. The 1/8 cent citywide sales tax for the east side is projected to bring in approx. $10 million annually. So you could basically cover the whole thing with 1/8 cent sales tax or levy a 1/4 cent sales tax and expand service to cover anticipated increases in demand for service (since it'd be free) and help implement more BRT. This would reduce cars on the street, increase economic activity, and help spur TOD.


Image

Study over.

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Re: Making public transit free

Post by DaveKCMO » Sat Feb 24, 2018 11:17 am

On paper, perhaps.

The reality is that if 'fixed route' fares were eliminated, a boom in complimentary ADA paratransit trips would likely occur (because by law you can only charge double the fixed route fare for a paratransit trip -- double of $0 is $0). Paratransit trips have a much higher cost-per-trip ($40 on average, compared to around $10 or less for fixed route) and are legally required in fixed route corridors. All that said, it would not be that much more than $11 million, but enough out of range to make an 1/8-cent citywide sales tax inadequate.

Unfortunately, only 1/8-cent is left in the state authorization for public transportation in KCMO (frequently targeted by Chastain). The additional sales tax authorization often mentioned for transit is strictly for capital public improvements (1/2 cent), which I don't think can cover operations.

Ideally, we would have a new authorization for a regional transit sales tax up to 1 cent in at least the five core counties (Jackson/Clay/Platte and Johnson/Wyandotte) to generate $300 million annually to truly expand the bus network and (possibly) eliminate the fare. Once approved by voters, the existing revenue sources (citywide sales tax in KCMO, city/county general funds everywhere else) could be reduced/eliminated or used for other things.

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Re: Making public transit free

Post by earthling » Sat Feb 24, 2018 12:21 pm

Is there anything on the table to trigger a study and propose a regional tax?

And if it doesn't pass regionally is it realistic to pursue TDD by city core - the E Side and Downtown to Waldo/WP Center corridor? And pursue other areas that supported the failed regional attempt - KCK, Northland and Independence more likely. And then others areas may come on board over the years once the benefits are understood. When the Broadway Bridge is rebuilt, a free Northland/Downtown bus line may be necessary.

If regional/district approach isn't doable, is it realistic to start with just the top 3-5 bus lines w/out a tax - then pursue tax vote broadly when timing right?

What does it take to get real action on this?

Is MARC the best entity to drive this?

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Re: Making public transit free

Post by normalthings » Sat Feb 24, 2018 3:07 pm

earthling wrote:Is there anything on the table to trigger a study and propose a regional tax?

And if it doesn't pass regionally is it realistic to pursue TDD by city core - the E Side and Downtown to Waldo/WP Center corridor? And pursue other areas that supported the failed regional attempt - KCK, Northland and Independence more likely. And then others areas may come on board over the years once the benefits are understood. When the Broadway Bridge is rebuilt, a free Northland/Downtown bus line may be necessary.

If regional/district approach isn't doable, is it realistic to start with just the top 3-5 bus lines w/out a tax - then pursue tax vote broadly when timing right?

What does it take to get real action on this?

Is MARC the best entity to drive this?
I believe a city wide transit plan is what the KC Chamber Of Commerce is trying to propose a regional plan. IIRK, they are currently trying to decide what exactly they want to do.

A 1cent sales tax that generates $300M a year should be able to pay for bus and rail transit. Right?

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Re: Making public transit free

Post by DaveKCMO » Sat Feb 24, 2018 4:39 pm

ldai_phs wrote:A 1cent sales tax that generates $300M a year should be able to pay for bus and rail transit. Right?
Unless there is overwhelming regional interest in rail, I wouldn't bother. We just won't be able to solve the job access problem -- one of the Chamber's few specific statements on the topic -- if we spend a majority of it on capital.

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Re: Making public transit free

Post by DaveKCMO » Sat Feb 24, 2018 4:42 pm

earthling wrote:Is there anything on the table to trigger a study and propose a regional tax?

And if it doesn't pass regionally is it realistic to pursue TDD by city core - the E Side and Downtown to Waldo/WP Center corridor? And pursue other areas that supported the failed regional attempt - KCK, Northland and Independence more likely. And then others areas may come on board over the years once the benefits are understood. When the Broadway Bridge is rebuilt, a free Northland/Downtown bus line may be necessary.

If regional/district approach isn't doable, is it realistic to start with just the top 3-5 bus lines w/out a tax - then pursue tax vote broadly when timing right?

What does it take to get real action on this?

Is MARC the best entity to drive this?
The Chamber will just lobby. It will be up to the state legislatures to authorize a tax and local officials to place an authorized tax in front of voters. KCATA is already methodically upgrading key SmartMoves routes to MAX and we are upgrading Main MAX to streetcar with new revenue and allowing that operational revenue to be spent elsewhere.

The ONLY other jurisdiction increasing their funding for transit is Johnson County, and that's only because voters authorized a levy increase specifically for that (coupled with parks and libraries). We are doing piecemeal today, why continue trying to grow that when the regional investment is inevitable and would truly solve being able to run high frequency routes across city and state lines?

MARC doesn't drive anything. They're just administrators (by design).

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Re: Making public transit free

Post by normalthings » Sat Feb 24, 2018 5:36 pm

DaveKCMO wrote:
ldai_phs wrote:A 1cent sales tax that generates $300M a year should be able to pay for bus and rail transit. Right?
Unless there is overwhelming regional interest in rail, I wouldn't bother. We just won't be able to solve the job access problem -- one of the Chamber's few specific statements on the topic -- if we spend a majority of it on capital.
So no streetcar, lightrail, or commuter rail with plan?

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Re: Making public transit free

Post by DaveKCMO » Sat Feb 24, 2018 5:48 pm

ldai_phs wrote:
DaveKCMO wrote:
ldai_phs wrote:A 1cent sales tax that generates $300M a year should be able to pay for bus and rail transit. Right?
Unless there is overwhelming regional interest in rail, I wouldn't bother. We just won't be able to solve the job access problem -- one of the Chamber's few specific statements on the topic -- if we spend a majority of it on capital.
So no streetcar, lightrail, or commuter rail with plan?
I wouldn't push for it, believe it or not. Rail in the RCP corridor for me is primarily about changing the regional conversation (and secondarily about building the regional spine we've talked about since the 70s).

I-70 commuter rail = $400 million (2012 dollars) for 1,200 pax/day
I-35 commuter rail = $325 million (2008 dollars) for 800 pax/day
2008 KCMO light rail (63rd/prospect to Vivion) = $825 million for ... okay, this would be awesome but it would still suck up almost all of the funding and then the other parts of the region would want a piece of it, too, leaving you with little improvement in bus service.

No other corridors have congestion, yet.

Meanwhile, we build out MAX -- pay as you go -- on every SmartMoves corridor and end up with fast and frequent service all over the metro with a wonderful streetcar spine down the middle. The 10-mile Prospect corridor is only $56 million. Independence is next (assuming there's a local funding source, currently there is not). Then Metcalf, North Oak/KCI, State Avenue, 75th, 39th -- all with level boarding, electric buses, and protected bike lanes. Feeder buses and coaches fill in the rest. Ridership is built and then when the funding mechanism is up for renewal then we push for rail upgrades.

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Re: Making public transit free

Post by horizons82 » Sat Feb 24, 2018 8:47 pm

DaveKCMO wrote:The ONLY other jurisdiction increasing their funding for transit is Johnson County, and that's only because voters authorized a levy increase specifically for that (coupled with parks and libraries). We are doing piecemeal today, why continue trying to grow that when the regional investment is inevitable and would truly solve being able to run high frequency routes across city and state lines?
I think increasing frequency of buses in the suburbs is a huge selling point. Coupled with free fare and it would be very very appealing. I cannot tell you how many JoCo people I've heard mention interest in the bus "except it doesn't run on weekends" or "it takes too damn long to arrive"

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Re: Making public transit free

Post by JBmidtown » Sat Feb 24, 2018 9:14 pm

Hey Dave, are the electric busses on proposed new MAX lines going to have overhead lines? Because that would look so cool

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Re: Making public transit free

Post by DaveKCMO » Sun Feb 25, 2018 10:42 am

JBmidtown wrote:Hey Dave, are the electric busses on proposed new MAX lines going to have overhead lines? Because that would look so cool
I'm just making that part up. No decision has been made on electric buses, but the market is quickly moving that direction. There's no need to have catenary for the battery powered models.

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Re: Making public transit free

Post by mykn » Sun Feb 25, 2018 10:55 am

DaveKCMO wrote:
JBmidtown wrote:Hey Dave, are the electric busses on proposed new MAX lines going to have overhead lines? Because that would look so cool
I'm just making that part up. No decision has been made on electric buses, but the market is quickly moving that direction. There's no need to have catenary for the battery powered models.
How about some electric articulated busses? The ones in Seattle are dope.

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Re: Making public transit free

Post by WoodDraw » Mon Feb 26, 2018 2:39 am

Is there any city organization open to funding a study?

Thanks for all the replies. I just think it's something we should start looking at.

I wonder if alphabet/Google would be willing to go in on a study of what happens when you make all transit free in a smaller city. We seem to have a decent relationship with them.

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Re: Making public transit free

Post by flyingember » Mon Feb 26, 2018 12:37 pm

I would think there's easy low hanging fruit to start with-

A downtown only bus. With the transition to all busses in downtown being on the same streets, why couldn't there be a free last mile downtown bus setup?

Kind of like this, a bus that connects notable destinations in a big loop
https://www.ridemetro.org/Pages/BusGreenLink.aspx

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Re: Making public transit free

Post by mean » Mon Feb 26, 2018 3:24 pm

Didn't we used to have something like that? Downtown Circulator or something?

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Re: Making public transit free

Post by FangKC » Tue Feb 27, 2018 4:00 pm

I think there used to be a downtown circulator bus that had a 25 cent fee.

JBmidtown
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Re: Making public transit free

Post by JBmidtown » Tue Feb 27, 2018 4:17 pm

What, back when you could get a moon pie for a penny?

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FangKC
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Re: Making public transit free

Post by FangKC » Tue Feb 27, 2018 4:28 pm

No, I moved to downtown Kansas City in 2002, and I believe it existed then. It was called The Downtowner bus.

I found a mention of it at this site:

http://www.trainweb.org/moksrail/public ... kcbtwn.htm

Just a Transit Trip Away…
DOWNTOWN KANSAS CITY - Catch the blue north/south "Downtowner" shuttle
bus weekdays at the stop on Main Street just outside the Amtrak station entrance.
Fare is 25 cents. Ask for a transfer and use it to return free. Downtown attractions
include:

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Re: Making public transit free

Post by mean » Tue Feb 27, 2018 5:43 pm

Yeah, that's the one I was thinking of, the downtowner. There was a promotional map of the route hanging in my office building around 2005 or 2006ish. I always assumed that lack of sufficient demand and/or the coming MAX probably did it in.

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