Quinton the air quality bird educates kids on how to help keep our air clean

Poor air quality can affect children more than adults. Kids tend to be outdoors more, and their developing lungs are more vulnerable to pollutants. There are simple, everyday actions that kids can do to help keep our air clean.

Quinton, mascot of MARC’s Air Quality program, takes kids on clean air adventures to teach them about the importance of air quality and how we can all do simple things can help us breathe easier. In “Wingin’ It”, Quinton and his dad explore Kansas City on an Ozone Alert day, so to reduce harmful emissions they use alternative transportation such as riding the bus or biking.

To share Quinton’s message, Royce Handy, MARC’s air quality intern, has spent the past few months delivering copies of the children’s book along with Air Quality calendars to elementary school children throughout the region.

I’ve had a great experience this year delivering air quality books and 2019 calendars to our Head Start partners and to kids at Crossroads – Quality Hill in partnership with Lead to Read. So far, I’ve delivered over 2,500 books to places like the Kansas City School District, Front Porch Alliance, YMCA and more. This has been a refreshing experience, as I not only get to meet amazing regional leaders who are caring for our children and their education, but the children themselves.

When I was a kid, I loved R.L. Stine’s “Goosebumps” book series. Through them, I developed an appreciation for creative writing and a love of reading. As I bring books to students throughout the metro, I hope they have the same feeling I still have years later. Quinton’s “Wingin’ It” is a great book full of color and adventure, but also educates children (via the parental glossary in the back of the book) about ozone pollution, why air quality is important and shares simple steps to help keep our air clean. So not only do I get to take time away from my desk and see new parts of the region, I get to have a hand in creating a better environment and encouraging lifelong learners.

If you know any groups that may want books or calendars, please email me at rhandy@marc.org.

Read ‘Wingin’ It’ and see other air quality educational materials at AirQKC.org.

Grandview and Blue Springs join cooperative traffic signal coordination effort

Operation Green Light (OGL) has been aiding in the safety and efficiency of traffic signal operations across the Kansas City metropolitan area since the program was started in 2004. The goals of the program are to reduce travel time, fuel consumption and air pollution while ensuring safety and efficiency.

Recently, Grandview and Blue Springs joined the list of 23 OGL member cities. Blue Springs added nine intersections to the signal management system along with network communications. Grandview added five intersections, communications and signal controllers.

When adding a new route to the OGL system, existing equipment is saved and used whenever possible which saves money. All costs for the program are paid for by federal, state and local funds.

This time-lapse video before and after signal coordination along an OGL corridor shows that this system allows traffic to move at a much smoother pace.

While traffic flow is a big part of what OGL helps with, another important aspect of the system is the regional air quality improvements. When cars idle at stoplights or in traffic jams, large amounts of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere. According to an article published by the U.S. Department of Energy, idling cars in the United States release roughly 30 million tons of carbon dioxide in to the atmosphere annually. Programs like OGL and AirQKC work to limit emissions and improve air quality throughout the region.

Well-coordinated signals also work with the Kansas City Scout freeway management system to help respond to traffic incidents. OGL’s wireless communications system allows analysts in an office to make changes to a signal without having to visit the intersection, reducing costs and increasing response time.

These agencies and cities currently participate in the Operation Green Light program.

  • Federal Highway Administration
  • Kansas Department of Transportation
  • Missouri Department of Transportation
  • Mid-America Regional Council
  • Bonner Springs
  • Fairway
  • Kansas City
  • Lansing
  • Leavenworth
  • Leawood
  • Lenexa
  • Merriam
  • Mission
  • Mission Woods
  • Olathe
  • Overland Park
  • Prairie Village
  • Shawnee
  • Westwood
  • Belton
  • Blue Springs
  • Gladstone
  • Grandview
  • Independence
  • Kansas City
  • Lee’s Summit
  • Liberty
  • North Kansas City
  • Raymore

Share your thoughts on the future of transit in the Kansas City region

Ride hailing, bike sharing, electric scooters — with all of these new ways to get around, the transportation environment in the Kansas City region is rapidly changing. In response to these changes and others on the horizon, our partners at RideKC are conducting a comprehensive review and redesign of transit services in the region.

As a first step for RideKC Next, planners at the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority are analyzing current transit operations and new mobility options, and they want your help. Please take this survey to help them gain a better understanding of what people like you would like to see in the future in regards to public transportation and transit.

Future steps for RideKC Next include developing a draft plan this summer and sharing it for public review this fall. After the public gives feedback to the draft, RideKC will begin working on the final plan, which is expected to include significant changes to the current transit system over the next few years and improve the overall functionality of transit for metro area residents.

Take the survey | Completa la encuesta

Are you ready to green commute?

Join the Green Commute Challenge: choose alternative transportation and help improve air quality

The 2019 Green Commute Challenge kicked off on Monday, June 3. For 12 years, this summer program has provided a friendly competition for area commuters, focused on reducing the number of single-occupant cars on metro-area roads and improving air quality in the region.

Registration is open until July 6, 2019, and the challenge continues through Aug. 30. Throughout the challenge, you or your team will log any commuter trips you make using alternative transportation. You’ll earn points for each green-commute mile. MARC’s Rideshare staff keep track of team and individual scores and have drawings for daily, weekly and monthly prizes.

Fielding a team for the Green Commute Challenge is a great way to showcase your organization’s environmental leadership while encouraging employees to explore money-saving commuting options. Green alternatives to driving alone include carpoolsbusstreetcarvanpoolscycling, walking, using an e-scooter and telecommuting.

During the warmer months of the year, from March 1 to Oct. 31, the Kansas City region is more likely to experience ozone pollution, which occurs when emissions from automobiles and other sources interact with heat and sunlight. Ozone pollution is harmful for everyone to breathe, especially children and people with respiratory problems, such as asthma or emphysema. 

MARC’s RideshareKC and Air Quality programs collaborate each year to put on the Green Commute Challenge in partnership with BikeWalkKC and RideKC. Last year, 631 participants on 44 teams reduced driving by 508,336 miles, saving $102,469 and preventing 397,356 pounds of emissions.

Find out more and register at www.ridesharekc.org.

What transportation projects should be included in RTP 2050?

MARC is working with local governments and other transportation stakeholders to develop RTP 2050, a plan that will serve as a blueprint for managing the Kansas City region’s transportation system for the next 30 years, and we want to know what you think.  The RTP 2050 plan includes a long-term vision for the region’s transportation system, along with goals that we want to achieve by 2050 and strategies for how we plan to do it. 

The final plan will also include a list of transportation projects — major regional investments for the next 30 years that will help us accomplish our goals. This list has to be financially constrained, meaning that the projects fit within the budget of transportation funding that we can reasonably expect to receive over the next 30 years. 

MARC issued a call for projects in February, and we received more than 400 applications representing projects in all parts of the region, with total costs that exceed our expected funding. We will need to make some hard decisions about what to include in the plan, and that’s where you come in.

Please review the list using the link below and share your comments at the bottom of each project. Your feedback will help our planning committees as they review and prioritize projects. Comments will be accepted through the end of the summer. 

View projects and share your thoughts