Kansas City Streetcar Project
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KANSAS CITY REGIONAL TIGER APPLICATION
Kansas City Downtown Streetcar
A modern streetcar is a form of light rail specifically tailored to operate in urban activity centers like the Kansas City Downtown – Crown Center area. The streetcar is a shorter version of the light-rail vehicle, but streetcars use the same tracks and electrical power systems as light rail. Many cities around the country are planning and designing streetcar systems to improve mobility in their urban centers, focus economic development and serve as feeder services to other transit systems. Today modern streetcars operate in Portland, Ore., and Seattle, Wash.
The recently completed alternatives analysis that studied light rail in Kansas City’s central north/south corridor concluded that today the River Market to Country Club Plaza segment has activity centers, population and employment density most likely to support an investment in rail transit, and has the best chance of receiving federal funds.
Initiating rail transit in Kansas City, Mo., is proposed through developing
a modern streetcar line approximately two
miles long between the River Market and Crown Center that would link major activity centers, enhance mobility and support development. A streetcar in this corridor would link local transit, Metro Area Express (MAX) bus rapid transit (BRT) lines and future commuter rail, and help distribute transit passengers throughout downtown while serving as the first step towards regional rail in Kansas City, Mo. The route would use one of the preferred downtown light-rail alignments studied during the Alternatives Analysis. The streetcars would operate in mixed traffic, either in the curb lane or second lane. Streetcars mix very easily with vehicular and pedestrian traffic and would have stops spaced every two or three blocks with simple shelters and passenger amenities. The request for $6 million from the TIGER program is for continued development of the Kansas City Downtown Streetcar project. Design work that began in the North/South Corridor Alternatives Analysis (2009) can be continued into preliminary engineering and used for preliminary engineering and final design for the bridge modifications necessary to accommodate the installation of rails and streetcar vehicle loading. The TIGER funding will also be used for construction activities for the bridge modifications. In addition to TIGER funding, private funding will also be pursued for the project.
Project Purpose & Need
Downtown is the heart of the Kansas City region, and its health and vibrancy are in many ways linked to the health of
the larger community. This is why the recent downtown resurgence is so significant and remarkable.
With an economic development boom in excess of $5.2 billion since 2000, few cities can match the progress Kansas City has been able to achieve in such a short period. A resurgence in residential growth combined with the construction of major community anchors and commercial developments have positively transformed the downtown core as a place to live, work and play. Accompanying public sector planning and investment have complemented this infusion of private development.
The Kansas City Downtown Streetcar project will address several important
mobility needs in the greater downtown
area and contribute to downtown’s resurgence.
1. A lack of transportation options. Most downtown residents, employees and visitors rely on private automobiles for travel within the downtown area. For example, a recent survey conducted by the Downtown Council of Kansas City found that 54 percent of downtown residents who also work downtown use their automobile for their commute. Only 3 percent use transit.
2. Inadequate connectivity among transit services in the downtown area. Because the downtown activity center stretches more than two miles north to south, a central spine is needed to link the subareas within the greater downtown area, and provide effective connections between other transit services. The Kansas City Area Trans- portation Authority’s (KCATA) downtown transit center is at 10th and Main streets and not well-connected with all the transit services operated in the expansive downtown area.
3. Low-density development. Although the greater downtown area has seen significant new development in recent years, large areas remain undeveloped. The downtown area lacks a catalytic anchor to focus development. .
4. High parking space requirements. Today, downtown development requires an inordinate number of parking spaces. Parking ratios of three to five parking spaces per thousand square feet of commercial area are common. These ratios are characteristic of suburban developments. This much space and cost associated with parking
inhibits development and precludes the type of high-density continuous urban development desired in the downtown area.
Goals and Objectives
The North/South Corridor Alternatives Analysis (2009) established goals and objectives for transit in the corridor; which apply to the downtown streetcar.
--Improve transit service and increase transit ridership.
--Expand transit’s role in circulation within the Central Business Corridor (CBC).
--Improve reliability of transit for travel from Northland to CBC.
--Provide better service for transit dependents to jobs within the CBC.
--Support better transit service for convention/visitors travel.
-Enhance transit access to and from transi-tdependent neighborhoods.
--Provide direct transit access to transit-dependent neighborhoods.
--Reduce transit travel times to the CBC for transit-dependent neighborhoods.
--Support for economic development and redevelopment in the North/South Corridor.
--Improve transit accessibility from targeted residential areas.
--Improve transit accessibility to targeted employment/commercial areas.
transit nodes to help focus development at targeted locations.
--Enhance the urban environment adjacent to transit facilities.
The downtown streetcar is an important initial step in the development of a rail transit system in the Central Business Corridor from the River Market to the Country Club Plaza.
D. Project Parties
The grant recipient will be the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA). The KCATA operates Metro bus service, the Metro Area Express (MAX), Share-A-Fare paratransit service for the elderly and disabled, and
AdVANtage vanpool service. The KCATA was formed with the signing of a bistate compact created by the Missouri and Kansas legislatures on December 28, 1965. The compact gives the KCATA responsibility for planning, construction, owning and operating passenger transportation systems and facilities within the seven-county Kansas City metropolitan area. These include the counties of Cass, Clay, Jackson and Platte in Missouri, and Johnson, Leavenworth and Wyandotte in Kansas. A 10- member Board of Commissioners — five from Missouri and five from Kansas — governs the KCATA.
The Metro logs more than 54,000 trips every weekday. Share-A-Fare provides 250,000 trips per year, and there are 29 vanpools helping to meet the commuting needs of people living outside the boundaries of bus service.
While KCATA is the agency seeking TIGER grant funding for transit, several local planning partners and project stakeholders have expressed support for the project.
next column . . .
city of Kansas City, Mo., is a partner with KCATA on the downtown streetcar
project. Kansas City has the responsibility for the streets in which the streetcar
would operate. Kansas City historically has worked closely with KCATA in the
funding of both transit-related capital improvements and transit operations
in Kansas City.
D. Grant Funds & Sources & Uses of Project Funds
i. Capital Cost Estimates
The capital costs for the development of the downtown streetcar have been estimated at $68.4 million for the preferred alignment from Union Station to the River Market.
The project’s total $68.4 million capital cost would be funded through two types of federal funding, the TIGER grant revenue, and future Federal Transit Administration (FTA) capital funding through the Small Starts program and local funding. The financial plan assumes that 75 percent of the net capital cost after the TIGER funding will be funded through the Small Starts program.
The local share would be financed through the sale of bonds to generate the required $15.6 million. The debt service on the bonds would be financed through proceeds from a Transportation Development District (TDD). The required operating funding will be from private sources, including the TDD revenue and sponsorships solicited from businesses along the alignment. KCATA is also exploring the feasibility of establishing an endowment to provide partial funding for operations. The $6 million requested from the TIGER program is for continued development of the streetcar project. Initial design work that began in the North/South Corridor Alternatives Analysis will be continued into preliminary engineering. The funding also will be used for preliminary engineering and final design for the bridge modifications necessary to accommodate the installation of rails and streetcar vehicle loading. TIGER funding will also be used for construction activities for bridge modifications. The modifications to the bridges along the alignment are long lead-time items, and
early initiation of this work is necessary to ensure timely start-up of revenue operations.
ii. Operating Cost Estimates
Operating costs for the downtown streetcar have been estimated at $2.1 million per year in 2009 dollars. This estimate is based on the assumption that the streetcar will operate seven days per week, approximately 20 hours per day. The streetcar will operate every 10 minutes during the daytime and evening service hours.
The Kansas City downtown streetcar may be funded through a mix of user fees (fares), and public and private financing. The table below summarizes the funding for the streetcar project.
SELECTION CRITERIA PRIMARY
A. Long-Term Outcomes
i. State of Good Repair
State of good repair includes recapitalization and maintenance issues, asset management practices, and innovative financing strategies. It also includes issues related to measuring the condition of transit capital assets, prioritizing
local transit reinvestment decisions preventive maintenance practices. A strong transit system is viewed by Kansas City civic leaders as critical to providing a competitive labor environment and competing economically. Kansas City’s central commercial corridor is the most important travel corridor in the city; transit improvements in this corridor are a community priority. A transit investment in the corridor will produce
benefits including transportation and economic development as detailed in this document.
From an asset management perspective, KCATA and the Kansas City Downtown Streetcar project are compliant with state of good repair guidelines:
1. KCATA has asset management practices in place to maintain the agency’s bus fleet, facilities and passenger amenities. The agency maintains current assets in accordance with industry norms. For example, the bus fleet has an average age of approximately six years and a bus replacement schedule is in place to maintain the bus fleet.
2. KCATA conducts a biennial asset inventory and reconciles to the agency’s fixed-asset accounting system. All acquisitions of assets are handled by the Authority's procurement department based on the FTA 4220.1F and the Authority's procurement policy. On an annual basis a capital budget is established for a five-year period based on identified funding for year one and projected funding for years two through five. A long-range plan is projected beyond the five-year capital budget to identify potential funding requirements and replacement of key
assets. All assets are insured.
A recent FTA Triennial Review had no significant findings relative to the
KCATA’s management of assets or procurement policies.
3. The streetcar system will be developed in a manner that will not threaten or interrupt the KCATA’s current asset management systems. The capital and operating budgets for the streetcar are being developed independent of
the financing for the current transit system. No funding or revenue presently used for the operation and maintenance of the bus system will be used for the streetcar project.
4. The financial plan for the streetcar will include long-term funding for the streetcar system so the new asset can be properly maintained, and revenue from the bus system will not be required. The streetcar project will help to upgrade transit service in this important transit corridor as well as provide opportunities for street infrastructure improvements.
5. The streetcar will operate adjacent to KCATA’s existing transit center at 10th and Main streets downtown, thereby enhancing the effectiveness of this transit asset.
6. The streetcar will improve connectivity among the dozens of KCATA routes that operate through the downtown area, thereby enhancing the effectiveness of the existing transit service.
7. The streetcar project includes physical improvements to three bridges along the alignment. One of these structures, the Main Street viaduct over I-670, is nearing the end of its useful life and will be replaced as part of the streetcar project.
8. The streetcar project includes streetscape improvements that will help make the areas adjacent to the alignment more pedestrian friendly and more attractive to development.
9. The streetcar project, along with favorable zoning that allows mixed-use development, zoning and development codes for higher density and development incentives, is expected to promote reinvestment n the areas along the streetcar alignment, resulting in more effective use of the city’s infrastructure.
Kansas City Downtown Streetcar project would greatly benefit this distressed area by providing an economic boost of employment, development and increased mobility. One major benefit of the streetcar is that would serve as a spine for the regional bus system plan. By connecting these bus routes, the streetcar connects the distressed areas with employment centers. Streetcars often have a feeling of more permanent transportation with the overhead power lines and tracks, thus residents and visitors are more comfortable relying on this type of transit over buses. There are many economic benefits of a streetcar, including:
1. Affordable mobility
2. Property value increase
3. Economic development
4. Reduction in congestion
5. Decrease in greenhouse gas emissions.
continued next column . . .
Increases in transit service provide more options for low-income people. Instead of spending their money on taxi fares and other higher-priced modes, transit allows budgets to be freed up to be used on other uses like housing, food and health care.
to the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) — the Kansas City region’s
metropolitan planning organization — if one family member who commutes
to work switches to transit they can eliminate the need to buy a second
or third car, and can save the family $3,000 to $8,000 per year. MARC also
reports that 12 percent of adults in the metro area do not own a car. In
addition, people ages 65 and over will increase by 72 percent in the next
decade and must maintain access to community services.
Property Value Increase / Economic Development
Rail transit systems, including streetcars, have been shown to increase the value of property located near rail stations and stops. The improved transportation access, enhanced mobility and permanence of rail transit has a positive impact on surrounding property value. The experience in other cities with streetcars is that such projects also have a positive influence on development. The introduction of a streetcar with fixed infrastructure into an area creates the right decision-making environment for policy investments that may support compact, walkable, high-density, sustainable development.
A stated objective of the city of Kansas City, Mo., and the North/South Alternatives Analysis is to encourage growth and economic development in the city’s central core and leverage investments that have already been made downtown. It is also an objective to link together the River Market, downtown Kansas City, the Crossroads district and Crown Center into a seamless integrated greater downtown. The downtown streetcar project will provide this link while helping to promote new development in the urban core. The streetcar’s location in the region’s central core with strong connecting transit servcies means access to such developemnt will be possible from throughout the metropolitan region.
in Congestion and Greenhouse Gases.
Ridership estimates have been prepared for the streetcar alignment between River Market and Union Station. Kansas City Downtown Streetcar Ridership Estimates-- 2012 2030:
Average Day 4,200 5,200
Annual (millions) 1.4 1.7
These estimates are for a “typical day.” Ridership levels would be 2,000 to 3,000 passengers per day higher when there is a major convention in the downtown area, or when there are events at the Sprint Center arena
Much more about the project is overwhelmingly shared by the Kansas City site reproduced so far. Much more on the advantages they have discovered are available at the below links.
WEB LINKS TO PROJECT RESOURCES
Project’s Primary Resource Web site: