Update written by Dave Losey.
Ken, if you are inclined could you post this on your blog? And Janmarie if you are inclined could you post this on Facebook?I have recently become aware of how far the effort to regionalize the KC area transit system has gone. I had followed the effort to rebrand all buses with the Ride KC colors and logo, however, it has gone much farther as reflected by the Jan. 4, 2016 changes.
First, a little history. Up until earlier this year the K.C.A.T.A. (the Metro), Indebus (Independence), Unified Government Transit (KCK), and the JO (Johnson County Transit) were all operated separately. This meant separate routes, scheduling, fares and passes, etc. The initial effort to provide more effective and efficient service was to combine the Administrative Offices of the Metro and the JO with the JO administrative staff being eliminated. A few minor changes also occurred this year. The JO began to honor the Metro Day Pass on certain routes, we accepted IndyBus transfers, and we began accepting the UMKC Student ID as fare payment.
We (the operators of the JO service) were informed that a Regional Bus Coordinating Council was looking at fare structure, monthly pass acceptance, route efficiencies, and route expansions. We did not know the name RideKC.org. As it turns out RideKC, is the umbrella for all modes of transportation operating in the Kansas City area. The partners are MARC, K.C.A.T.A., the JO, Indybus, United Government Transit, and the Regional Bus Coordinating Council.
The Regional Transit Coordinating Council is an advisory body to MARC, Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) and local jurisdictions and convenes on a bi-monthly basis to address regional transit planning, coordination and implementation of transit priorities. The objectives of the committee is to:
- Provide improved forum to support coordination of regional transit operations and services, planning and related transit activities;
- Advise on technical and policy input to existing KCATA, MARC and local groups;
- Improve alignments between federal, KCATA and MARC planning and programming requirements and processes;
- And support governance and structural changes to the regional transit services, over time.
The representative for JOCO is Steve Klika (who is also on the KCATA Board and a member of the Board of County Commissioners. Can you say conflict of interest?)
So I am sure you would like me to get to the bottom line. The bottom line is that due to fare structure changes there will be a reduction in fare revenues for JOCO. On Jan. 4 the fare for local JO routes will go down from $2.25 to $1.50 on Jan. 4, 2016) and the JO will now accept the Metro monthly passes, the Metro 1-day pass, the Indy monthly pass and the Indy 10-ride pass. There are indications that there will be some reciprocity between agencies. In the end, however, JOCO will have a loss of revenues at a time when Mr. Klika is advocating for expanded services in JOCO.
My question is where will the money come from. Of course we all understand that there is only one source of funds for transit. That is through the confiscation of our money via taxes. As you know this last year JOCO BOCC increased the property tax mill levy in order to increase funding for Johnson County Transit. Again Mr. Klika is lobbying hard for an even greater increase in funding for transit. His vision is to see all areas of JOCO served by fixed route transit service with buses running at least every half hour. He has absolutely no qualms about increasing taxes to do so.
And for his efforts Mr. Klika received the Transit Advocate of the Year Award.
If this is not a full blown regional transit system it is a small step away. That step is the consolidating of Federal, state, and local funding. Specifically RideKC will control all transit money and will determine how and where it will be spent. I am firmly convinced that these decisions will favor KC, MO to the detriment of JOCO. By this I mean JOCO residents will pay more for transit service they do not use!
In conclusion, may I remind you that according to Agenda 21 stated objectives it is prudent to disperse the poor and underprivileged into the suburbs in order to solve the economic/crime problems of blighted inner cities. A robust transit system will play a part in this effort.