What route makes the most sense for a beginning Light Rail line in KC?

Transportation topics in KC

What route makes the most sense for a starter Light Rail line in KC?

Northland: N. Oak Trafficway Corridor
1
4%
Northland: Downtown to KCI
10
37%
Northland: N. Antioch Road Corridor
0
No votes
Northland: I-35 Corridor
1
4%
Jackson County: Rock Island Line Corridor
5
19%
Jackson County: Truman Road Corridor
2
7%
Jackson County: Bruce R. Watkins Corridor
1
4%
Jackson County: Ward Parkway Corridor
0
No votes
Johnson County, KS: I-35 Corridor
5
19%
Johnson County, KS: 56 Highway Corridor
0
No votes
Wyandotte County: State Avenue Corridor
2
7%
 
Total votes: 27

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What route makes the most sense for a beginning Light Rail line in KC?

Post by UrbanKC » Mon Jul 02, 2018 7:59 pm

If Kansas City were to embark on a light rail line to build off the energy and momentum of the streetcar line, what starter route do you think makes the most sense? Light rail being differentiated from a streetcar line by: having a dedicated right-of-way, faster speed, higher capacity, less stops.

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Re: What route makes the most sense for a beginning Light Rail line in KC?

Post by DaveKCMO » Mon Jul 02, 2018 8:08 pm

None. The only route that made sense will be streetcar. None of these are dense enough to merit the investment, as borne by the expected rating of the 2008 LRT plan that failed at the ballot box (the feds hated the south of Plaza and north of the river parts).

Build BRT now and grow ridership, walkability, and density. Upgrade to LRT or "fast streetcar" (same thing) after 10-12 years.

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Re: What route makes the most sense for a beginning Light Rail line in KC?

Post by normalthings » Mon Jul 02, 2018 8:48 pm

Some sort of east/west lines should happen next. Maybe a Linwood's streetcar or lr to the stadium.
Some very high up private sector transit/urban planners that I work with also recommended 71 highway median.

"Train to Plane": This wouldn't really work well in Kansas City. The Northland isn't remotely build to support rail nor does it have the type of people who would support TOD. Many other lines should happen before the airport.

Unlike Dave, I think that the city is ready for some sort of broader push. Varying on who gets elected next year, I see no reason why we shouldn't be pushing for a city/county/region plan. It could be mainly bus with limited rail ,but we should do something. Let's build now to influence tomorrow's development instead of building after. I feel like highway loving KC will never stop/slow building highway otherwise.

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Re: What route makes the most sense for a beginning Light Rail line in KC?

Post by Highlander » Mon Jul 02, 2018 11:55 pm

If you want a line that will be used, regardless of how difficult it would be to get it through, clearly the best route would be Olathe-Lenexa-OP-Shawnee-Merriam along I-35. That would provide downtown access to by far the most people. While a route to KCI would is a popular thought, I don't think it's all that practical.

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Re: What route makes the most sense for a beginning Light Rail line in KC?

Post by smh » Tue Jul 03, 2018 9:08 am

normalthings wrote:Some sort of east/west lines should happen next. Maybe a Linwood's streetcar or lr to the stadium.
Some very high up private sector transit/urban planners that I work with also recommended 71 highway median.

"Train to Plane": This wouldn't really work well in Kansas City. The Northland isn't remotely build to support rail nor does it have the type of people who would support TOD. Many other lines should happen before the airport.

Unlike Dave, I think that the city is ready for some sort of broader push. Varying on who gets elected next year, I see no reason why we shouldn't be pushing for a city/county/region plan. It could be mainly bus with limited rail ,but we should do something. Let's build now to influence tomorrow's development instead of building after. I feel like highway loving KC will never stop/slow building highway otherwise.
I've always been intrigued by a 71 median line.

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Re: What route makes the most sense for a beginning Light Rail line in KC?

Post by DaveKCMO » Tue Jul 03, 2018 9:16 am

Have you waited on a platform in a highway median? No thanks. Watkins median might be a bit wider and lush, but safe pedestrian access rules this one out for me.

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Re: What route makes the most sense for a beginning Light Rail line in KC?

Post by earthling » Tue Jul 03, 2018 9:28 am

With electric buses operating like trains in China, just a matter of time they hit US. No investment/maintenance in tracks/wires, they just track painted lines. Level boarding with streetcar/train-like seating. The wheels are covered and can't tell it's a bus. Much cheaper solution per mile.

The streetcar is a great start as a transit spine in KC's main corridor but would expect the future to be more sophisticated buses that look and function like trains/streetcars. Commuter rail might be doable if freight companies play along (they haven't), so would otherwise pursue the below with dedicated right of ways.

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Re: What route makes the most sense for a beginning Light Rail line in KC?

Post by flyingember » Tue Jul 03, 2018 9:33 am

The up front cost of running wiring would be really stupid to get a train to Liberty or Olathe. But with the cost of adding platforms to existing track would be dramatically cheaper. Build up the demand to upgrade the downtown line to faster service. If people want to live far out we should provide an option that doesn't involve driving and could replace a freeway widening. I would rather buy some trains than pay to widen I-35

Put stops at Kearney, Liberty, Ameristar (to get to the caves), Front St/435, Riverfront park, West Bottoms, Rainbow, Merriam, 87th and Santa Fe

With connecting area bus service like NKC has these stops would give car-less access to a lot of jobs

And none of these stops would be in the median of a freeway.

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Re: What route makes the most sense for a beginning Light Rail line in KC?

Post by brewcrew1000 » Tue Jul 03, 2018 9:46 am

The way Johnson County is set up its more attractive for a light rail line because its continuous in the way its built. The way Missouri is set up, its more attractive for Commuter Rail because you have a city followed by many stretches of nothing (Forest, Undeveloped Land, Farm, Rivers, etc) then your in the next city, there really isn't any continuous stretches on the Missouri side like you have in JoCo - Missouri side just makes more sense to have one stop in each city in its downtown area. I think a commuter rail line from Parkville to Downtown KC would be a perfect starter line for commuter rail.

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Re: What route makes the most sense for a beginning Light Rail line in KC?

Post by normalthings » Tue Jul 03, 2018 9:48 am

brewcrew1000 wrote:The way Johnson County is set up its more attractive for a light rail line because its continuous in the way its built, the way Missouri is set up, its more attractive for Commuter Rail because you have a city followed by many stretches of nothing (Forest, Undeveloped Land, Farm, Rivers, etc) then your in the next city, there really isn't any continuous stretches on the Missouri side like you have in JoCo - Missouri side just makes more sense to have one stop in each city in its downtown area. I think a commuter rail line from Parkville to Downtown KC would be a perfect set up
Agreed. Parkville to Downtown KCMO is hard to pull off until 1. New Bridge over the Missouri is built and 2. Parkville gets double tracked.

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Re: What route makes the most sense for a beginning Light Rail line in KC?

Post by normalthings » Tue Jul 03, 2018 9:49 am

flyingember wrote:The up front cost of running wiring would be really stupid to get a train to Liberty or Olathe. But with the cost of adding platforms to existing track would be dramatically cheaper. Build up the demand to upgrade the downtown line to faster service. If people want to live far out we should provide an option that doesn't involve driving and could replace a freeway widening. I would rather buy some trains than pay to widen I-35

Put stops at Kearney, Liberty, Ameristar (to get to the caves), Front St/435, Riverfront park, West Bottoms, Rainbow, Merriam, 87th and Santa Fe

With connecting area bus service like NKC has these stops would give car-less access to a lot of jobs

And none of these stops would be in the median of a freeway.
We could always use diesel units to Olathe and Liberty. Keep the LR to lines closer in.

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Re: What route makes the most sense for a beginning Light Rail line in KC?

Post by normalthings » Tue Jul 03, 2018 9:50 am

DaveKCMO wrote:Have you waited on a platform in a highway median? No thanks. Watkins median might be a bit wider and lush, but safe pedestrian access rules this one out for me.
IMHO. The highway median stops in Chicago aren’t that bad. I will admit that pedestrian safety would need to be looked at more in-depth but this route shouldn’t be completely ruled out on that issue alone.

I wonder if there is enough space to run the rail next to the highway instead.... (or at least at some areas)

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Re: What route makes the most sense for a beginning Light Rail line in KC?

Post by flyingember » Tue Jul 03, 2018 10:18 am

One thing to remember is KC already has light rail. The difference between streetcar and light rail is so blurred that it's 99% marketing at this point.

The major choices are routing, electric vs diesel, separated vs street running and stop spacing and if there's either ridership income or provides a cost offset to make it feasible

Even Amtrak has been known to use street running rail
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypGkkXZB2xc

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Re: What route makes the most sense for a beginning Light Rail line in KC?

Post by UrbanKC » Tue Jul 03, 2018 1:10 pm

DaveKCMO wrote:None. The only route that made sense will be streetcar. None of these are dense enough to merit the investment, as borne by the expected rating of the 2008 LRT plan that failed at the ballot box (the feds hated the south of Plaza and north of the river parts).

Build BRT now and grow ridership, walkability, and density. Upgrade to LRT or "fast streetcar" (same thing) after 10-12 years.
I couldn't disagree more... From what we can observe throughout the rest of the US: BRT does absolutely nothing to encourage denser TOD development, nor to grow ridership amongst the middle class. Sure, you can pair it with a light rail/streetcar system, and that makes sense. But it only makes sense to use it to build off of and supplement the rail system. To serve in place of an extended light rail/commuter rail system doesn't make sense, at least if you want to encourage TOD development in areas beyond Downtown, and encourage a larger demographic to use it.

The streetcar also is far too slow, and has too many stops to make it a viable commuter option beyond the Downtown-Plaza region. Once rail extends beyond that region, it would have to become faster, and probably in it's own right-of-way to keep commute times respectable.

The "KC doesn't have enough density" argument is so tired and overused. You don't always need the existing density to justify the construction of light rail and commuter rail. The development of light rail and commuter rail is part of developing a region to fit 21st Century expectations. That is, to facilitate construction of denser development around a central corridor near a common, immovable form of transit, that also comes with walk-ability.

If people living in Kansas City, or least people interested in it's development (such as on this website) want the city to grow, and compete with larger cities. Then light rail is going to have to be something we invest in, even while we currently lack the density to support it. Let's be looking towards examples like Denver, Minneapolis & Portland for an example of where to start, and where we want to be in 20-30 more years. If we want to get there, light rail is going to have to happen, even if it's expensive and doesn't seem to make sense due to our sprawl.

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Re: What route makes the most sense for a beginning Light Rail line in KC?

Post by mean » Tue Jul 03, 2018 2:03 pm

You don't always need the existing density to justify the construction of light rail and commuter rail.
Tell that to the people with the federal grant money.

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Re: What route makes the most sense for a beginning Light Rail line in KC?

Post by smh » Tue Jul 03, 2018 2:34 pm

DaveKCMO wrote:Have you waited on a platform in a highway median? No thanks. Watkins median might be a bit wider and lush, but safe pedestrian access rules this one out for me.
I'd rather wait in the highway median than along the shoulder of 71. I suspect there are ways to address getting to the platform--perhaps it is less than ideal but I don't think we can state that as a conclusion at this point.

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Re: What route makes the most sense for a beginning Light Rail line in KC?

Post by normalthings » Tue Jul 03, 2018 2:46 pm

smh wrote:
DaveKCMO wrote:Have you waited on a platform in a highway median? No thanks. Watkins median might be a bit wider and lush, but safe pedestrian access rules this one out for me.
I'd rather wait in the highway median than along the shoulder of 71. I suspect there are ways to address getting to the platform--perhaps it is less than ideal but I don't think we can state that as a conclusion at this point.
Building in the median means we can build with wooden/cement ties instead of in street cement slab. Obviously in median is going to be significantly cheaper.

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Re: What route makes the most sense for a beginning Light Rail line in KC?

Post by normalthings » Tue Jul 03, 2018 8:26 pm

Iowa City is eveidently doing more planning than we are. They are currently doing studies on starting a commuter rail line.

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Re: What route makes the most sense for a beginning Light Rail line in KC?

Post by ToDactivist » Tue Jul 03, 2018 9:17 pm

commuter rail going forward makes the most sense - not only from the tired "density" excuse but also satellite towns that can become farm clubs for KC labor force, etc. Even Denver's light rail has too many stops in its framework and it IS 2x the density. Commuter rail to DIA is workable, albeit I wish faster too.

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Re: What route makes the most sense for a beginning Light Rail line in KC?

Post by flyingember » Tue Jul 03, 2018 9:50 pm

UrbanKC wrote:
DaveKCMO wrote:None. The only route that made sense will be streetcar. None of these are dense enough to merit the investment, as borne by the expected rating of the 2008 LRT plan that failed at the ballot box (the feds hated the south of Plaza and north of the river parts).

Build BRT now and grow ridership, walkability, and density. Upgrade to LRT or "fast streetcar" (same thing) after 10-12 years.
I couldn't disagree more... From what we can observe throughout the rest of the US: BRT does absolutely nothing to encourage denser TOD development, nor to grow ridership amongst the middle class.
A really good bus line can work. And it’s not about having a bus, it’s about using the bus in the right way.

Imagine you’re sitting on i-35 and traffic is at a standstill. It takes 45 minutes to get to work normally and now it’s an hour.
Or you can hop on a bus that takes a HOV lane and goes twice the speed of traffic. Dedicated onramps with direct access to streets in downtown designed for the bus and
AND you fund the new bus service by letting cars pay to use the lane too. Someone pays $5 to get on. It’s a dedicated revenue source to fund it.
Call it a “priority lane” or something.

You need to treat the bus like a good train line, A separated path is key. I keep seeing bus only lanes and we are removing ours

Here is there system map.
The mostly orange map on the middle right shows nonstop express routes. I count around 40 of them. We have nothing like this in KC.

They have 3x the population and somewhere around 4.tx the bus ridership. So it’s around 150% ours per capita.
That much increase in ridership would be around $15 million in revenue for the KC bus system, a 15% increase with no new tax. And you make another $3-4 million from car use of the special lanes.

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