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

User avatar
DaveKCMO
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 16694
Joined: Sun Nov 27, 2005 6:22 pm
Location: Crossroads
Contact:

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

Post by DaveKCMO » Tue Jul 03, 2018 11:04 pm

My skepticism comes from direct experience watching the city fumble TOD along the downtown route. Had MainCor not been two steps ahead with their overlay, the city would probably just NOW be getting around to doing something (and that's being generous). Couple that with the intense deference to NIMBYs (affordable housing in the Northland, six stories [!] in Midtown freak outs, etc etc.) and the lack of regional cooperation required to build almost anything in this list.

Dude, I am so down on light rail right now for KC. Just staaaaaaahp. Development does not have to be the end game. Yes, it's great, but we have to connect more people with jobs and rail will just suck up all of the available capital (which ain't much, post streetcar) and some of these corridors don't even have all-day bus service now.

UrbanKC
Pad site
Pad site
Posts: 82
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2016 10:21 am

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

Post by UrbanKC » Wed Jul 04, 2018 11:02 am

DaveKCMO wrote:My skepticism comes from direct experience watching the city fumble TOD along the downtown route. Had MainCor not been two steps ahead with their overlay, the city would probably just NOW be getting around to doing something (and that's being generous). Couple that with the intense deference to NIMBYs (affordable housing in the Northland, six stories [!] in Midtown freak outs, etc etc.) and the lack of regional cooperation required to build almost anything in this list.

Dude, I am so down on light rail right now for KC. Just staaaaaaahp. Development does not have to be the end game. Yes, it's great, but we have to connect more people with jobs and rail will just suck up all of the available capital (which ain't much, post streetcar) and some of these corridors don't even have all-day bus service now.
Development ought to be the end goal, or at least part of it. The overall goal ought to be creating an interconnected city where you can get anywhere conveniently without the use of a car. As well as establish cores and corridors with walkable development all around the city.

We can’t stop sprawling development, but at the least we can combat it a little with good urban development, and do so beyond just the Downtown-Plaza core.

Light rail and commuter rail is an integral part of that.

Our eyes should be set on 20-30 years from now, and on accomplishing in the next couple decades, what cities like Denver, Minneapolis-St Paul, Seattle, Portland, Salt Lake City and Phoenix have done in their previous 20-30 years.

Aim at making Kansas City a bigger, stronger and more competitive city. That can only truly be done with more development, more people, and by mimicking what today’s most successful cities have all done.

I’m a firm believer that you shouldn’t accept stagnation or status quo’s. Always strive to do the best you can do, and then some more after that.

But what you’ve said brings up a good point. Not everyone wants Kansas City to change or grow. They like it the way it is. Hence the opposition to improving KCI, the reluctance to doing more than the streetcar, the opposition to development... I’ve heard plenty of people just complaining that “Kansas City is getting too big”, as well as people complaining about whatever new suburban apartment complex is being built. “We like it the way it is, we don’t want more people. I’ll just have to move out further to get away from everyone.”

What do you do with the various visions? Someone has to win out in the end. I’m in the camp that wants to see Kansas City progress and grow bigger. I like what I see in other successful cities, and I’d like to see KC emulate that. I love where I live, but I’m also not happy with where we are. The Downtown-Plaza are just isn’t enough to me, it’s not big enough, and I’d like to see rail transit cause denser development all over the city. So that the city can grow even more together as a whole. I also dislike the city’s sprawling nature, and I firmly believe we can help combat sprawl by encouraging denser development all around the region. That’s my vision, and I know I might be the only one who feels that way, everyone deserves to have their own opinions. But in the end, only one vision comes out. Is there a way to compromise and make the most people happy? Usually there is, and that’s why we have elected representatives, why we have elections and committees and meetings.

Maybe there’s a way to satisfy both of our arguments...

User avatar
DaveKCMO
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 16694
Joined: Sun Nov 27, 2005 6:22 pm
Location: Crossroads
Contact:

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

Post by DaveKCMO » Wed Jul 04, 2018 12:32 pm

If you had proposed a solution to the political situation, I could be persuaded. We cannot collect enough revenue in KCMO alone to build and operate any of these routes as traditional light rail, so it must be regionally funded (and, of course, lines going to Kansas require funding from that side of the state line). Kansas does not have a petition initiative process. Value capture collapses outside of the River-Crown-Plaza corridor, which leaves you with a regional property tax or sales tax (and almost everyone you talk to will not bother with a property tax vote for transit, despite it being more stable). What's your plan for getting state authorization to put any of this before voters? The federal funding situation is dire, but temporary, and is much less concerning to me.

We have enough people drawing fantasy maps.

earthling
Oak Tower
Oak Tower
Posts: 4620
Joined: Sun Sep 11, 2011 2:27 pm

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

Post by earthling » Wed Jul 04, 2018 1:37 pm

As a long time bus rider the main reason I support streetcar is because of TOD (and rail attracting timid riders as a secondary reason). There is zero difference to me if both streetcar/bus were free. But is difficult to envision continuing to invest in rail throughout the city/metro beyond a main (Main) spine when cost of operating/deploying true BRT bus costs so much less. Yes the rail spine has attracted new riders and new development. True BRT lines that operate like rail (per image last page) that feeds off the streetcar line should be generally effective attracting TOD as long as they generate high ridership.

Pursuing free BRT service for at least major corridors should be KC's primary goal at this point, more rail beyond the core spine is not very realistic with new electric bus technology/designs that 'look and feel' no different than streetcars. But if 'plain ole bus service', then yes, I agree with you that KC would otherwise need more rail investment. But now there's a reasonable high end BRT compromise that costs much less if designed/executed properly.
Last edited by earthling on Wed Jul 04, 2018 1:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
DaveKCMO
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 16694
Joined: Sun Nov 27, 2005 6:22 pm
Location: Crossroads
Contact:

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

Post by DaveKCMO » Wed Jul 04, 2018 1:44 pm

earthling wrote:As a long time bus rider the main reason I support streetcar is because of TOD (and rail attracting timid riders as a secondary reason). There is zero difference to me if both streetcar/bus were free. But is difficult to envision continuing to invest in rail throughout the city/metro beyond a main (Main) spine when cost of operating/deploying true BRT bus costs so much less. Yes the rail spine has attracted new riders and new development. True BRT lines that operate like rail (per image last page) that feeds off the streetcar line should be generally effective attracting TOD as long as they generate high ridership.

Pursuing free BRT service for at least major corridors should be KC's primary goal at this point, more rail beyond the core spine is not very realistic with new electric bus technology/designs that 'look and feel' no different than streetcars.
FTFY.

The per-hour cost of operating streetcar locally is about the same as the standard local or BRT bus service in Kansas City.

earthling
Oak Tower
Oak Tower
Posts: 4620
Joined: Sun Sep 11, 2011 2:27 pm

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

Post by earthling » Wed Jul 04, 2018 1:49 pm

With 'operating' statement I'm including maintenance of infrastructure. Maintaining rails/electric wires much higher cost for streetcar than battery electric BRT sharing roads, yes?

User avatar
DaveKCMO
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 16694
Joined: Sun Nov 27, 2005 6:22 pm
Location: Crossroads
Contact:

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

Post by DaveKCMO » Thu Jul 05, 2018 10:52 am

earthling wrote:With 'operating' statement I'm including maintenance of infrastructure. Maintaining rails/electric wires much higher cost for streetcar than battery electric BRT sharing roads, yes?
Then you have to include the bus infrastructure: charging (if electric), fuel tanks (if gas or CNG), the barn, union mechanics, etc. Regardless, the largest components are operator labor and fuel for both, because they're directly tied to the level of service (while infrastructure is not). When KCATA quotes per-hour cost for new service, that number is very close to the number for streetcar.

flyingember
One Park Place
One Park Place
Posts: 6909
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2012 7:54 am

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

Post by flyingember » Thu Jul 05, 2018 11:46 am

But that all comes down to using ~40 person busses.
If a bus can hold 100 people each the formula changes.

Take the classic Laffer Curve. Is there a point we could lower ticket rates to and gain the same amount of income through higher capacity busses because the per seat labor cost is lower? Drive demand through economics of scale rather than frequency.

I would prefer greater frequency but moving to higher capacity busses could be a fine tradeoff.

Could use this model for a nonstop commuter bus system.

alejandro46
Pad site
Pad site
Posts: 88
Joined: Fri Feb 02, 2018 11:24 pm
Location: North Plaza

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

Post by alejandro46 » Fri Jul 06, 2018 10:08 am

I am of the mindset that the city's traffic, size and (relative) lack of density are not conducive to large scale light rail, even in 20-30 years.

I agree with Dave. Let's leverage the available funding to improve bus and implement BRT service when possible, and work to see what eastern spurs of the streetcar are possible that may be palatable to the general public down the line, as we have discussed numerous times the TDD setup will not work to fund them (or with out major shift in Federal Funding priorities).

Beyond the Casino/Riverfront expansion, running streetcars down Independence Avenue, 39th/Linwood to TSC, and the potential Trolley Trail should all be the focus of any rail-transit dollars. There is just not sufficient ROI and too many obstacles and insufficient traffic and commute time to justify suburban light rail. I would instead focus on improving urban density & connectivity than encouraging sprawl. Just my .02.

http://www.marc.org/Transportation/Plan ... ment1.aspx

User avatar
rxlexi
Valencia Place
Valencia Place
Posts: 1948
Joined: Sun Dec 14, 2003 10:30 pm
Location: City Market

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

Post by rxlexi » Fri Jul 06, 2018 11:10 am

Interesting discussion. Overall I agree with Dave.

I don't see the need or desire for any sort of large scale LRT build-out in KC. Streetcar, perhaps with faster running dedicated lanes south of Union Station (we have the street lanes, certainly), is all the rail this city needs to be successful IMO. This is one of, perhaps, the few cities that is and can continue to make streetcar work as an effective urban transit spine, rather than only a neighborhood scale connector.

KC has a linear, compact urban core that can be effectively linked with the streetcar and BRT. Anything outside that core doesn't offer nearly as much potential for highly usable and cost-effective transit.

As I've opined previously, I believe all public transit should be free (it is heavily subsidized anyway), and if the streetcar can maintain fareless operation as it expands, the small network we are creating will, again IMO, offer much higher ridership, usability, and desirability than a larger, more expensive, "commuter" LRT system out to suburban nodes.

Would be nice to have fast service to KCI, but not worth the cost until we've built out the inner-core. Inter-urban rail to Lawrence from Union Station is also a fun dream.

User avatar
normalthings
Alameda Tower
Alameda Tower
Posts: 1119
Joined: Mon Mar 30, 2015 9:52 pm

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

Post by normalthings » Fri Jul 06, 2018 12:17 pm

alejandro46 wrote:I am of the mindset that the city's traffic, size and (relative) lack of density are not conducive to large scale light rail, even in 20-30 years.

I agree with Dave. Let's leverage the available funding to improve bus and implement BRT service when possible, and work to see what eastern spurs of the streetcar are possible that may be palatable to the general public down the line, as we have discussed numerous times the TDD setup will not work to fund them (or with out major shift in Federal Funding priorities).

Beyond the Casino/Riverfront expansion, running streetcars down Independence Avenue, 39th/Linwood to TSC, and the potential Trolley Trail should all be the focus of any rail-transit dollars. There is just not sufficient ROI and too many obstacles and insufficient traffic and commute time to justify suburban light rail. I would instead focus on improving urban density & connectivity than encouraging sprawl. Just my .02.

http://www.marc.org/Transportation/Plan ... ment1.aspx
I agree that those types pf urban core lines make the most sense. I just would like to see them get built as LR and get built sooner I guess.

flyingember
One Park Place
One Park Place
Posts: 6909
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2012 7:54 am

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

Post by flyingember » Fri Jul 06, 2018 12:44 pm

alejandro46 wrote:I am of the mindset that the city's traffic, size and (relative) lack of density are not conducive to large scale light rail, even in 20-30 years.

I agree with Dave. Let's leverage the available funding to improve bus and implement BRT service when possible, and work to see what eastern spurs of the streetcar are possible that may be palatable to the general public down the line, as we have discussed numerous times the TDD setup will not work to fund them (or with out major shift in Federal Funding priorities).

Beyond the Casino/Riverfront expansion, running streetcars down Independence Avenue, 39th/Linwood to TSC, and the potential Trolley Trail should all be the focus of any rail-transit dollars. There is just not sufficient ROI and too many obstacles and insufficient traffic and commute time to justify suburban light rail. I would instead focus on improving urban density & connectivity than encouraging sprawl. Just my .02.
I would put the Trolley Trail in 10th place at best. This corridor already received improved bus service with Max and ridership hasn't increased enough to stop having alternating busses end at UMKC. It's not a neighborhood that's demanding better transit. It's not a bad route but should be down the list.

Add better service north into NKC too with one seat into downtown, maybe Troost MAX should terminate at 16th and Howell instead of downtown? Give Troost a one seat ride to this area.

N. Oak has been talked about for BRT. Why not just extend Main Max as a single line north and speed up the whole route? You would have a single seat from Barry to the Plaza.

Both an Indep Ave and State Ave line BRT should be one long route too. If KS won't stop giving out incentives we should find ways to get projects in downtown KCK instead.

Take Prospect Max too and add it into the bucket. Then once any of the high frequency bus routes reaches X riders over a year it's taken seriously to run a train on. If it doesn't it stays as a bus.

User avatar
normalthings
Alameda Tower
Alameda Tower
Posts: 1119
Joined: Mon Mar 30, 2015 9:52 pm

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

Post by normalthings » Fri Jul 06, 2018 4:41 pm

What steps are required to create something like STL’s Metrolink? Is it essentially KCATA but with more power to raise taxes and stuff? How does their system work?

chingon
Hotel President
Hotel President
Posts: 3415
Joined: Mon Oct 10, 2005 6:47 pm
Location: South Plaza

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

Post by chingon » Fri Jul 06, 2018 5:22 pm

normalthings wrote:What steps are required to create something like STL’s Metrolink?
First you need a time machine...

flyingember
One Park Place
One Park Place
Posts: 6909
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2012 7:54 am

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

Post by flyingember » Fri Jul 06, 2018 5:27 pm

normalthings wrote:What steps are required to create something like STL’s Metrolink? Is it essentially KCATA but with more power to raise taxes and stuff? How does their system work?
Both major transit entities are cross-state compacts approved by congress. Neither entity can raise taxes. They're reliant on cities and towns to implement taxes for them.

The KCATA is defined under rsmo 238.10 as a transportation authority. it's job is transportation systems only

Bistate is a compact under rsmo 70.370 setup as a political subdivision. it's more of an economic development agency. it's goals also can include sewers/drainage, water supplies, parking, street plans, park design, land use planning. they run the arch trams.


it's a light rail system like our streetcar is but it runs in dedicated row. about the only difference of steps from how the streetcar was built would be figuring out where to run trains off street and how to grade separate intersections. could run the exact same model of trains as we do today for the streetcar and have it directly connect to the downtown segment. bi-state got lucky to have a former rail routes available to use to state. Most of ours are long gone.

Could easily let the kcata own the system for simplicity and you make an agreement with the TDD board/city for any track connections like railroads already do today, maintenance experience and such

User avatar
normalthings
Alameda Tower
Alameda Tower
Posts: 1119
Joined: Mon Mar 30, 2015 9:52 pm

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

Post by normalthings » Fri Jul 06, 2018 6:00 pm

flyingember wrote:
normalthings wrote:What steps are required to create something like STL’s Metrolink? Is it essentially KCATA but with more power to raise taxes and stuff? How does their system work?
Both major transit entities are cross-state compacts approved by congress. Neither entity can raise taxes. They're reliant on cities and towns to implement taxes for them.

The KCATA is defined under rsmo 238.10 as a transportation authority. it's job is transportation systems only

Bistate is a compact under rsmo 70.370 setup as a political subdivision. it's more of an economic development agency. it's goals also can include sewers/drainage, water supplies, parking, street plans, park design, land use planning. they run the arch trams.


it's a light rail system like our streetcar is but it runs in dedicated row. about the only difference of steps from how the streetcar was built would be figuring out where to run trains off street and how to grade separate intersections. could run the exact same model of trains as we do today for the streetcar and have it directly connect to the downtown segment. bi-state got lucky to have a former rail routes available to use to state. Most of ours are long gone.

Could easily let the kcata own the system for simplicity and you make an agreement with the TDD board/city for any track connections like railroads already do today, maintenance experience and such
Thank-you. I had read recently about their proposed in street new LR line.
So KCATA could operate/own a LR line, and the communities inside of it would provide the funding. So then we would need to go to the states for approval to vote on a tax? How does that portion function?

flyingember
One Park Place
One Park Place
Posts: 6909
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2012 7:54 am

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

Post by flyingember » Fri Jul 06, 2018 8:47 pm

Each entity that wants to be involved holds an election. The ATA is 7 counties so in theory any town or the whole county in it could contribute.

Look at the zoo tax how some counties chose to involved and others didn’t.

The 2008 rail election had KCMO and NKC each hold an election for the same line

The state already did its approval 60+ years ago.

User avatar
normalthings
Alameda Tower
Alameda Tower
Posts: 1119
Joined: Mon Mar 30, 2015 9:52 pm

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

Post by normalthings » Fri Jul 06, 2018 10:05 pm

Oh okay. I had heard before that we would have to go to the state for some type of approval or such. Maybe that is if we want above a 1/8th cent sales tax? Regardless, Thank-you for all of this help full information.
Last edited by normalthings on Sat Jul 07, 2018 2:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

flyingember
One Park Place
One Park Place
Posts: 6909
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2012 7:54 am

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

Post by flyingember » Sat Jul 07, 2018 12:12 pm

normalthings wrote:Oh okay. I had heard before that we would have to go to the state for some type of approval or such. Maybe that is if we want above a 1/8th debts sales tax? Regardless, Thank-you for all of this help full information.
Don't know what this approval refers to.

Maybe what you're thinking of involved a modot route?

User avatar
normalthings
Alameda Tower
Alameda Tower
Posts: 1119
Joined: Mon Mar 30, 2015 9:52 pm

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

Post by normalthings » Sat Jul 07, 2018 2:08 pm

flyingember wrote:
normalthings wrote:Oh okay. I had heard before that we would have to go to the state for some type of approval or such. Maybe that is if we want above a 1/8th cent sales tax? Regardless, Thank-you for all of this help full information.
Don't know what this approval refers to.

Maybe what you're thinking of involved a modot route?
No.... it was something that Dave or KCRAG said on Reddit I believe.

Is it legal to combine a city wide sales tax and a TDD? Ex. City Sales creates a sales tax for transit and TDD’s are set up for ex. Linwood LR. The city sales tax would fund buses and put some money towards the LR line. Is this legally possible? Is this financially possible?

Post Reply