borderless transit / borderless region

Black Lives Matter

The Kansas City Regional Transit Alliance supports the Black Lives Matter movement. We recognize our own failures to adequately address issues that perpetuate systemic racism within our own organization and within our community.

Color-blindness is not an appropriate or adequate lens through which to view public transit or transportation advocacy, and we vow to acknowledge and confront inequities in ways we have failed to do so in the past.

Our region’s failures to keep our citizens safe from traffic violence disproportionately impact black communities. We are dedicated to pushing for Vision Zero, with a goal of eliminating traffic deaths.

Without dedicated funding for transit on a regional level, access to jobs and opportunity is imperiled. Our black neighbors are most dependent upon transit to bridge this gap, making this a serious issue of equity that must be acknowledged. Further, we will fight for zero fare transit to ensure access for all.

We condemn the senseless murder of Mr. George Floyd and many others at the hands of the police who are sworn to serve and protect them. Acknowledging this damaged trust, we encourage our region’s transit agency partners to examine their policies around security and their relationships with police to ensure that everyone feels welcome on transit.

Black Lives Matter. Together, we can build a transportation system that reaffirms that.


KCMO adopts Vision Zero

The City of Kansas City, Missouri city council adopted Resolution No. 200019 on May 14, 2020, setting in motion a comprehensive effort to eliminate traffic violence by 2030. The City Manager is now charged with establishing a Vision Zero task force to collect the necessary data to help identify and prioritize opportunities for immediate action.

The Kansas City Regional Transit Alliance applauds this policy as it is essential to ensure that everyone has the ability to safely move around our city, no matter how you travel. We supported this effort from the very beginning and presented to the joint council committee who reviewed this resolution.

We will look forward to continuing to support Vision Zero in Kansas City, Missouri and across the region with our elected leadership, cities and counties, partners and stakeholders.

Check out our presentation below.


KCRTA adopts 2020 priorities

At the May 2020 board of meeting, the Kansas City Regional Transit Alliance adopted its 2020 strategic action plan outlining three key priorities:

  1. Fiscal Sustainability: Advocate for the adoption of regional transportation funding to support sustainability mobility options for all.
  2. Safe Streets: Support adoption of Vision Zero policies and action plans across the Kansas City metro in pursuit of safer streets for all.
  3. Future-Readiness: Develop KCRTA organizational capacity for the next twenty years of regional transit advocacy.

This organization is now in its 20th year and we recognize that much has changed in the world around us. New modes and services are available, technological innovation has accelerated, and the need to build resilient, sustainable services is more important than ever. Even before COVID-19, we have support public transit as an essential service, critical to keep our region moving.

Please check out our 2020 priorities and look forward to more ways to get involved in supporting regional transit.


Vision Zero: A Regional Priority

Today there is a resolution before the Kansas City, Missouri Transportation & Infrastructure committee to consider the adoption of Vision Zero as a policy. The KCRTA has been actively advocating for such a policy in KCMO and across the region and we’re eager to support KCMO in its effort to make the roads safer for all users. Outlined herein is our formal position on Vision Zero; the KCMO resolution is a start but we have a long way to go and we’re here to help.

Our Position

The Kansas City Regional Transit Alliance (KCRTA) supports regional adoption of Vision Zero because it will make our roads safer for transit riders and all road users. Vision Zero will enhance regional accessibility and quality of life for all, particularly our most vulnerable populations. KCRTA believes a regional approach is necessary to not only help with the standardization of data collection and reporting, but to help leverage best practices, action planning, potential funding, and implementation as Kansas Citians do not live their lives within a single jurisdiction. The KCRTA will support Vision Zero through advocacy and partnerships that encourage the adoption of policies, convene stakeholders to support action plans and projects, and through celebrating the success of jurisdictions as established goals are met. 

The Problem

Every year in the United States, more than 40,000 people are killed on our streets and thousands more are injured. Nationwide, the numbers are disheartening:

  • Crashes cause 1 of every 4 unintentional injury deaths among children ages 13 and younger. (USDOT Fatality Analysis Reporting System (2018))
  • In cities such as Los Angeles, that have analyzed safety across its street network, identified that 65% of severe and fatal collisions involving people walking and biking happen on just 6% of their streets. (City of Los Angeles Vision Zero High Injury Network (2018))
  • Pedestrians are killed at disproportionately higher rates in the nation’s poorer neighborhoods. (Governing Magazine, 2013.)

Without proactive intervention, the problem is likely to get worse before it gets better. Americans are driving more, with 3.225 trillion miles driven in 2018 (FHWA, 2019), and distractions have increased as the number of personal technology devices quintupled between 2010-2017 (American Driving Survey, 2016-2017).

While the complete landscape of safety is not clear because of fragmented data collection and public information on traffic violence, the staggering truth is that Kansas City currently ranks tenth in the nation with the most speed-related fatalities; these deaths are entirely preventable. In 2018, Kansas City failed to meet targets for reductions with 251 fatalities. This was a 14% increase from the five-year YTD average, with Jackson County leading with 89 deaths; Clay County with 26 deaths; and Johnson County with 23 deaths (Destination Safe Coalition, 2018 Quarterly Fatality Report). Kansas City also has 64 of the 200 most dangerous intersections in the state. Every single death and injury comes at a considerable cost to our region, with both considerable individual and societal impacts. This traffic violence ultimately creates a fearful and unsafe environment where Kansas Citians lack true freedom of mobility, discouraging transit users, cyclists and pedestrians. Traffic violence is a pressing, but preventable public health issue that is adversely shaping our quality of life in Kansas City.

Vision Zero

Vision Zero is a multi-dimensional framework to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries, while increasing safe, healthy, equitable mobility for all. “Vision Zero acknowledges that many factors contribute to safe mobility — including roadway design, speeds, behaviors, technology, and policies.” As a strategy, Vision Zero has been successful in Europe, starting with Sweden in the 1990s, and has been adopted in cities across the United States to proactively address traffic violence. It values the importance of safety for all people to move in their community and focuses on a shared responsibility by both system designers and policy makers to ensure safe systems. The cities that have adopted Vision Zero publicly acknowledged that the status quo is no longer acceptable and are actively working to improve leadership, collaboration, and accountability to address traffic violence with every public realm decision.

Vision Zero begins with policy adoption by jurisdictions across the Kansas City region, supported by diverse stakeholders, including transportation professionals, policymakers, public health officials, police, and community members. These policies should include a clear, time-specific commitment to the goal of improving road safety for all users. Since Kansas Citians do not live their lives within one city or county, it is important to have broad regional adoption and collaboration.

Upon adopting Vision Zero, many U.S. cities have found through data collection and analysis that traffic violence disproportionately impacts our most vulnerable communities who rely on transit, walking or cycling to move around, as well as children and the elderly. Vision Zero should be supported by a region-wide data approach to understand trends and identify areas of greatest need for improvement and complemented by a commitment to equity and community engagement. Culminating in local action plans, local jurisdictions can begin working towards reducing traffic violence by curbing speeds, improving roadway design, and educating communities on road safety.

KCRTA Call to Action

The KCRTA supports the adoption of Vision Zero region-wide because it will enhance and improve safety for all transit users and all Kansas Citians for better regional mobility. In its commitment to Vision Zero, the KCRTA will commit to the following actions:

  • Convene and encourage multi-sector stakeholder support to advance Vision Zero policies region-wide. 
  • Connect policy makers and other advocates with resources such as model ordinances, action plans, and key insights.
  • Draft a letter of support and advocate for adoption of Vision Zero for jurisdictions region-wide with other stakeholders.
  • Convene an annual discussion among stakeholders, as desired, to share best practices and exchange ideas on how to advance Vision Zero goals.
  • Celebrate progress in meeting Vision Zero goals at an annual convening.

Just say yes to “Zero Fare” transit

KCATA CEO Robbie Makinen has been making waves with a proposal to eliminate the fare on local bus routes as a way to increase ridership and provide a more equitable transportation system.

Read more here:

KCTV5: KCATA looking to make bus services free

The Pitch: Could Kansas City become the first major U.S. city with a free transit system?

KCUR: The Head Of Kansas City’s Bus System Says Public Transportation Should Be Free


2018 Transit Advocate of the Year: Linden Street Partners

L to R: KCRTA Chairman David Johnson presents Linden Street Partners principals Andrew Ganahl and Scott Richardson with the Transit Advocate of the Year Award for their work on transit-oriented development.

Leaders in building projects that are oriented around transit, Linden Street Partners’ 1914 Main building was one of the first to break ground on the new streetcar line. A visionary project, it opened two months before the streetcar carried its first passenger.

This $8 million development replaced a surface parking lot and was the first new residential construction in the Crossroads in at least 20 years. Because its location in a walkable and transit-rich location gives tenants cost-saving options, it was built with only 27 parking spaces.

Development design from the ground up with transit in mind will have a huge role in building the efficacy of our city’s transit system. KCRTA was proud to recognize the role of Linden Street Partners in moving this vision forward.


Voters approve Main Street extension funding

Voters in the newly-formed Main Street Rail Transportation Development District (TDD) approved the local funding for the Main Street extension of the streetcar to UMKC. Next steps are to apply for federal funding and to complete design and construction. The extension may open as early as 2023.

KC Election Board – https://www.kceb.org/useruploads/TDD_Funding_Election/Detail_Results-_KC_Main_St._Rail_TDD_Funding_Election_6-18.pdf
KC Star – http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/kc-streetcar/article213456569.html
KSHB – https://www.kshb.com/news/local-news/election-results-expected-today-in-streetcar-expansion
KCUR – http://kcur.org/post/voters-approve-streetcar-extension-university-missouri-kansas-city
KC Business Journal – https://www.bizjournals.com/kansascity/news/2018/06/20/kc-streetcar-main-street-extension-approved.html


Streetcar TDD lawsuit dismissed

A Jackson County judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed in September 2017 claiming the mail-in election process was unconstitutional. KCRTA represented the TDD petitioners, who were individually named as defendants.

The final election for the Main Street Rail Transportation Development District is in progress now, with mail-in ballots due to the Circuit Court Administrator by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, June 12. Two previous elections formed the district itself and elected an at-large board of directors.

Judge dismisses lawsuit challenging streetcar vote – Kansas City Business Journal


Council addresses legal flaws in voter-approved Question 1

The City Council voted January 18 to amend a petition initiative restricting streetcar expansion activities that was narrowly approved in August 2017.

“Question 1” prevented city staff and elected officials from planning — or even talking about — streetcar expansion unless a separate vote was held citywide. Planning is a core city function that is authorized in the City Charter. A petition initiative cannot restrict Charter functions. In addition to that flaw, Question 1 also instituted a $1,000 fine per occurrence, which introduced clear constitutional issues that the Council had to address to avoid future litigation that might throw out the entire question.

KCRTA opposed Question 1 on these legal grounds, as well as the fact that it was put forth by streetcar opponents. Wording of the ballot language was intentionally vague and meant to restrict expansion entirely, not just ensure a more democratic process. If the city were to propose a citywide election for streetcar expansion, they would have to plan for that in advance (which Question 1 clearly prohibited).

The approved ordinance is a compromise, allowing the city to participate in planning while respecting the will of the voters that future expansion would be put to a citywide vote first. This also allows the Riverfront and Main Street extensions — which were well underway prior to August 2017 — to proceed as planned.

We thank the Councilmember who voted for the ordinance to amend:

– Mayor Sly James
– Lee Barnes
– Alissia Canady
– Dan Fowler
– Jolie Justus
– Quinton Lucas
– Kevin McManus
– Jermaine Reed
– Katheryn Shields
– Scott Wagner

We’d also like to thank the new Main Street Rail Transportation Development District, South Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, South KC Alliance, Downtown Council, Kansas City Streetcar Authority, Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, and PortKC for their testimony.


TDD lawsuit officially transferred to Jackson County

Cole County Circuit Court Judge Jon Beetem has officially transferred the Transportation Development District (TDD) lawsuit to Jackson County on Dec. 11, where the district has continuing jurisdiction.

The lawsuit was filed Sept. 5 by plaintiffs claiming the mail-in election held earlier this year was unconstitutional. All of the plaintiffs were able to vote in the mail-in election, which is allowed by the state’s TDD Act. The lawsuit named all 64 of the district’s proponents, as well the Missouri Secretary of State.

70% of voters in the new TDD — which will help fund the Main Street streetcar extension — approved the district’s formation in August. In October, the same district elected seven pro-streetcar candidates to a board of directors that will govern the new district. The new TDD Chair is former Kansas City Councilwoman Jan Marcason.

The Kansas City Regional Transit Alliance funded the district’s formation costs, but the elected TDD Board of Directors is now overseeing the rest of the process (except for this lawsuit).