Light Rail Now! - The Track to Better Urban Livability
Home Button Features Button News Button Events Button Facts Button Myths Button About Us Button Contact Us button Links Button Search
Kansas City skyline

Related Links

Light Rail Progress can be contacted at:

Kansas City Light Rail Plan Faces Voters

Special Report by Light Rail Progress

Yet another major American city is moving toward installing light rail transit (LRT). Voters in Kansas City will go to the polls on August 7th to consider a proposed LRT system with a nearly 24-mile, $793 million north-south starter line.
[KC Transit Plan website 2001/03/21, 2001/05/14]

LRT has been selected out of an exhaustive process of study and community involvement that examined 28 different technologies and lasted decades. The proposal being presented to voters was developed through a three-year cooperative effort by the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) and the cities of Kansas City, Missouri, and North Kansas City.

To fund the project, voters must approve a 25-year, half-cent sales tax initiative. Getting voter approval for a relatively unfamiliar transit system like LRT is always an uphill struggle – especially when taxes must be approved to finance it. But whether it wins or loses, the Kansas City proposal demonstrates the growing appeal light rail has for cities grappling with serious mobility problems.

The Kansas City Council recently authorized the tax proposal for an initial route that would stretch some 23.8 miles, from 75th St. on the south end, through the University District, midtown, and downtown Kansas City, across the Missouri River, and into the "Northland" (the northern part of the metro area), stopping at the northern starter line terminus of Vivion Road. The starter system would include 2,500 parking spaces at park & ride stations. it's hoped that operation would begin in 2008.
[Passenger Transport 2001/06/11; KC Transit Plan website 2001/05/14]

KCATA Chief Engineer Dick Jarrold pointed out that "This plan will provide service to the region's most densely populated areas, and establishes a very strong central route that serves downtown, the urban core, and the Plaza – and crosses the river into the Northland. Because it is central, this route allows for expansion in all directions."
[Passenger Transport 2001/06/11]

The starter line is projected to carry more than 15,000 rider-trips a day, of which over 6,000 would be totally new trips not presently using transit. Currently there are more than 40,000 daily transit trips in the corridor, the highest volume in the service area of the KCATA. Approximately 254,000 jobs are currently located along the proposed route.
[KC Transit Plan website 2001/05/14]

Although the initial route would not extend to Kansas City international Airport (KCi), in the extreme northern edge of the metropolitan region, the council plan calls for acquiring land to be used for an eventual LRT airport extension. A southern extension is also planned.

The initial line is projected to cost $793 million (2001 dollars), of which 60%, or $475 million, would be covered by federal Section 5309 funds. Annual operating costs totalling $15 million would be covered by the increased salestax revenues voters are being asked to approve.
[KC Transit Plan website 2001/05/14]

Local decisionmakers and planners expect that the new LRT system would not only significantly impact the growing problems of sprawl and traffic congestion in the region, but also would spark economic development within the urban core.

"it's only partly about moving people around" says Leonard Graham, an engineer who co-led the city-sponsored Central Business Corridor (CBC) Transit Study steering committee that developed the light rail plan and route. "it's also about building a city."
[Passenger Transport 2001/06/11]

Analysts project that some $1.1 billion in new private investment – over and above development already proposed – would be attracted to the corridor by the new LRT system. Some 12,800 new jobs would be created. As a result, $16 million in new tax revenue is projected to be generated by the new development and additional jobs.
[KC Transit Plan website 2001/05/14]

"I've seen first-hand in St. Louis what light rail can do for a city and for a public transit system. This is a real exciting opportunity for Kansas City and the KCATA" said Mark Huffer, general manager of the transit system. "Our goal is to provide the Kansas City region a multi-modal transit system reflective of a progressive metropolitan area."
[Passenger Transport 2001/06/11]

In authorizing the August 7 tax vote, the city council also fully supported KCATA's plans to apply for the funds needed for light rail engineering and construction. While the city conducted the CBC study, the KCATA explored transit options north of the Missouri River. The study led to a decision to extend the light rail route another two miles to a major intersection along the interstate 29 corridor.

A Kansas City Star editorial in support of the light rail plan urged voters to look toward Kansas City's long-term future, stating, "The proposed route connects the city's major activity centers – the Plaza, Crown Center and downtown....The plan would add another access route through the transportation choke point ... created by the river."

Will Kansas City voters okay this leap into a new mobility future? Proponents of better mobility are watching the outcome with fingers crossed.

Rev. 2001/06/25


All website material © 2000-2007 Light Rail Now Project (unless otherwise indicated)