borderless transit / borderless region

KCAI voices support for Midtown/UMKC streetcar extension

The Board of Trustees of the Kansas City Art Institute have voiced their support for the proposed streetcar extension south through Midtown to the University of Missouri-Kansas City Volker Campus.

Read the full letter here.

Elections for the new Transportation Development District are scheduled for 2017. See the full schedule here.


Vote NO on KCMO Question 3

This fall, Kansas City voters are being asked again to pay for Clay Chastain’s fantasy light rail plan (KCMO Question 3 — see the sample ballot at The cost to implement this plan will certainly exceed the revenue generated by the plan’s three new sales taxes. Worse still, this plan purposely robs $26 million a year from our underfunded bus system that thousands depend on daily.

Such is the folly of Clay Chastain.

Building light rail through low density areas on the way to KCI, the Truman Sports Complex, and the new Cerner campus sound great on paper. However, this plan’s profound lack of improving regional transit-access-to-jobs makes this multibillion dollar plan fantasy inconsequential relative to addressing that problem.

Every transit professional in the region will tell you the most acute jobs access problem is in southern Johnson County.

This is a significant omission in Chastain’s repeated attempts at pursuing his KCMO-only light rail fantasy. We have a regional transportation plan called SmartMoves that we’ve been investing in route-by-route, albeit slowly. Clay Chastain continues to ignores the objectives of that adopted regional plan.

We must focus the region on connecting people to job density and building greater population density in our urban core. Streetcar, for example, was specifically focused on the latter and by all measures is succeeding.

Aside from ignoring the region’s top job access gap, Chastain’s fantasy plan contains flaws that make implementation impossible.

Chastain’s plan assumes construction costs of $45 million per mile, yet we know the streetcar cost $50 million per mile. Light rail is more costly than streetcar to construct — often approaching $100 million or more, not including river crossings.

To help fund construction, Chastain assumes $1 billion in Federal dollars, which would be one of the largest single project awards ever. It is unlikely the city would get such an award for a light rail line that runs through low density areas to the north and south, a lesson we learned in 2008.

The local match would come entirely from sales tax revenues. A portion of which would be captured by redirecting a tax that supports our bus system. In Chastain’s own words, his plan “would probably cause disruption for local bus service.”

Other assumptions which compound the difficulty of implementation:

  • Assuming the Parks Department would allow use of parks for light rail right-of-way;
  • Assuming light rail would run on the Trolley Track Trail, a citizen work group already weighed in on this in 2014, preferring a mixed alignment for rail going south through Brookside;
  • Assuming North Kansas City and MoDOT would agree to not only using the Heart of America Bridge, but restricting car traffic when light rail vehicles are passing;
  • Assuming a zone-based pricing system that increases cost of the trip based on the number of zones traveled. This is contrary to the current RideKC fare policy.

Clay Chastain’s latest light rail fantasy plan is riddled with problems. It’s unlikely any entity would execute the plan, and certainly not for this price tag. The voters of Kansas City should send Chastain a clear message with another resounding defeat. He’s promised once again that this is the end, right?

Matt Kauffman
Kansas City Regional Transit Alliance

Judge orders Midtown/UMKC streetcar election to proceed

Read coverage here. The judge’s full order is here. Information about the streetcar extension through Midtown to UMKC is at

2016 Annual Meeting tickets on sale now

Who is the Transit Advocate of the Year? Find out at our 2016 Annual Meeting, to be held Thursday, Oct. 27. This year’s meeting will be at the Plaza Branch of the Kansas City Public Library, overlooking the route of the future streetcar extension to UMKC.

Tickets are $30 for current members, $35 for non-members:

TDD election schedule updated


The Streetcar Extension TDD potential schedule has been updated to reflect sensitivity to timing concerns expressed by the City Council.

The revised schedule calls for the conduct of the TDD formation election after the April 2017 municipal election, which will contain at least two citywide questions.

See for the updated schedule.

Streetcar Public Hearing — 9am, Thursday, Sept. 15

See this story for more information.

16th Circuit Court waives judicial hearing in streetcar case

On Aug. 19, the 16th Circuit Court held a status conference on the streetcar extension case and KCRTA asked the Court to forego the judicial hearing as permitted under the TDD Act when no one files an opposition in the proceeding.

Under such circumstances, the court can make its ruling based on the pleadings alone. The judge decided to do so.

The TDD Act expressly permits this when no opposition to the legality of the proposed district needs to be ruled upon by the Court. Considering that two prior courts have reviewed this same structure and finance plan before and found them to be lawful, we anticipate that this proposed district will be certified for voter consideration by the Court as were the prior proposals.

This only affects the judicial hearing that would have been held on Sept. 16. The Court will still hold the public hearing on Sept 15, as previously noticed. Assuming the Court certifies the district for voter consideration as anticipated, the Court would issue that order sometime after Sept. 15.

Save the date! 2016 Annual Meeting on Oct. 27

KCRTA’s Annual Meeting will be held on Thursday, October 27 at the Plaza Branch of the Kansas City Public Library, overlooking Main Street and Brush Creek.

RSVP on Facebook!

Stay tuned for more information!

UMKC/Midtown streetcar extension resources posted

Have questions about KCRTA’s efforts to extend the streetcar through Midtown to UMKC’s Volker Campus? Bookmark (and share) for a map of the proposed funding district, a proposed timeline for in-district elections, and the Public Notice for Sept. 15 public hearing at the Jackson County Courthouse.

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