borderless transit / borderless region

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


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).


Judge hears Motion To Transfer for TDD lawsuit

Cole County Circuit Court Judge Jon Beetem heard a request today to transfer the Transportation Development District (TDD) lawsuit to Jackson County, where the district has continuing jurisdiction. At the end of the hearing, the judge asked the movants (the parties requesting the Motion to Transfer) for a proposed order.

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.

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 Board of Directors is now overseeing the rest of the process (except for this lawsuit).

If a draft order to transfer the case to Jackson County is received, Judge Beetem could issue a ruling by the end of next week. The case would continue in the Jackson County Circuit Court.


TDD Board of Directors meets, elects officers

The newly-elected Kansas City Main Street Rail Transportation Development District (TDD) Board of Directors held its first meeting on October 31. The Board approved bylaws, elected officers, and set a 2018 budget of $0 income and expenses.

No dates were set for the final TDD “funding election” to approve the revenue sources that were proposed in the district’s formation. A previously published schedule from KCRTA proposed a mail-in election starting in late 2017.

The TDD is a separate entity from the nonprofit Kansas City Regional Transit Alliance. KCRTA provided the funding and oversight for the TDD formation and the first two elections on behalf of 64 petitioners. All actions were authorized by the State of Missouri’s TDD Act (RSMO 238).

TDD Officers are:

Chair – Jan Marcason
Secretary – Crissy Dastrup
Treasurer – Leonard Graham
Executive Director – Ruben Alonso III

The next TDD Board meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Friday, November 17 at Boulevard Brewing Company, 2501 Southwest Boulevard. Meetings are open for the public to observe.


Pat McLarney: 2017 Transit Advocate of the Year

Pat McLarney is best known as the first managing partner of Shook, Hardy & Bacon, one of Kansas City’s premier law firms. During his tenure, Pat oversaw tremendous growth of the firm.

Pat, like Mayor Sly James, is also a past president of the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association.

But for transit advocates, Pat may be best known for managing the 2008 light rail campaign. That project was 14-mile $825 million project running from I-29 and Vivion Road down Main Street to the Plaza, then east to Bruce Watkins Drive and south 63rd Street. While it was a stunning defeat – considering it was the official replacement for Clay Chastain’s 2006 surprise-but-unworkable plan that passed – the end result was the 2.2-mile downtown streetcar.

Pat McLarney

The city used that failed 2008 light rail election data to form a new special district that consisted of solid voter support. That project won multiple elections handily in 2012 and is now considered the new gold standard for streetcar projects in the US.

More recently – and the reason he garnered our attention this year – Pat helped KCRTA close a critical funding gap for the Main Street streetcar extension when fundraising hit a wall. Requesting private sector donations to pay for legal fees and multiple elections is not a traditional “ask” – even though the expenses may be reimbursed by the special district once it generates revenue.

Regardless, voters along Main Street have consistently said yes to rail transit. We were finally able to leverage that support to build the regional transit spine this city has been planning for decades. None of these successes KC has seen, or will see in the future, would have been possible without the courage and leadership in that earlier light rail campaign. It was a building block in our journey and we have Pat to thank for that.

Past winners:

2016 – Councilman Jermaine Reed
2015 – Johnson County Commissioner Steve Klika
2014 – Mayor Sly James
2013 – Robbie Makinen
2012 – Senator Claire McCaskill
2011 – Councilman Russ Johnson
2010 – Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders


Edgemoor to discuss KCI & transit at KCRTA Annual Meeting

Edgemoor Infrastructure — the team selected to design and build a new KCI single terminal — will headline KCRTA’s Annual Meeting to discuss transit options at a new KCI. Don’t miss this discussion!

Agenda:
– Transit at KCI
– Honor 2017’s Transit Advocate of the Year
– Elect new KCRTA board and officers
– Network with other transit advocates and supporters

Tickets are $30 for KCRTA members and $35 for non-members. Heavy appetizers and non-alcoholic beverages are included. This year’s meeting is sponsored by the Kansas City Streetcar Authority.

Tickets: https://2017kcrta.eventbrite.com