Have you ever wondered how to get around the Kansas City Region by walking, bicycling or taking transit? Do you think that connections between major destinations, trails, streets and other places could be easier to understand? You’re in luck, and we want to hear from you!
The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, several local jurisdictions, and MARC are working hard to make walking, bicycling and transit better for you by creating a regional signage system.
The project, called Connecting Our Region, will work across the metro to create an inclusive signage plan that enhances the visitor experience and fits the needs of bicyclists, pedestrians and transit users. The goal is to develop a system that helps users find the logical and safe connections between key destinations and commercial districts in the region.
Connecting our Region will engage the community through
surveys, events, public meetings and in-person interviews to inform the design
committee on how signage is currently used and influence the plan for a future
The Peer Cities Transit Report serves as a benchmark for our regional transit system and how it compares to peer transit systems in terms of funding, ridership, service area and density. The majority of data was collected from the National Transit Database, the 5-year American Community Survey and a custom survey sent to the transit providers included in the report. It strives to provide insight into the factors that affect transit agencies around the country.
When Whitney Morgan, a transportation planner with MARC, is not busy helping the region plan for its transportation system, he serves as the president of the Kansas City Chapter of Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO). For the past three years, he has helped plan and participated in a shadow day program named after Garrett A. Morgan, who invented the traffic signal, among other things. The program is designed to expose students of color and young women to the various careers available to them in the transportation industry.
This year’s shadow day took place on March 21. Students from Topeka, Kansas City, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri, experienced a bus driver simulation at RideKC and tours of the Streetcar Authority facility and the air traffic control tower at Charles B. Wheeler airport. The day concluded with a tour of Burns and McDonnell and an engineering panel.
“These are tomorrow’s leaders and we want them to be aware of all the opportunities within architecture, engineering, planning and construction,” said Morgan of the day’s events. “We need to begin growing a workforce now that will meet the technical demands of the 21st century.”
The event is a collaborative effort between various public and private entities in the region, including the Kansas City Streetcar Authority, Burns & McDonnell, WSP|Parsons Brinckerhoff, the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, COMTO and MARC.
The Regional Transit Coordinating Council (RTCC) is an advisory body made up of representatives from Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA), local jurisdictions and MARC that comes together to discuss regional transit planning, coordination and implementation of transit priorities. Every year, the RTCC sets an ambitious agenda by adopting a new work plan.
Much of the work plan this year focuses on the implementation of the newly adopted Smart Moves 3.0 Regional Transit and Mobility Plan. (Haven’t seen the plan yet? Check it out at kcsmartmoves.org.) MARC, KCATA, and area transit partners will work toward finding new solutions to job access challenges, expanding RideKC Freedom On-Demand service into additional areas within the region, as well as advancing mobility hub planning and Bus Rapid Transit corridor studies for Independence Avenue and North Oak Trafficway.
In addition, the RTCC work plan focuses on continuing to make the bus easier for riders to access. This includes expanding real-time trip planning and tracking information for the whole region, pilot testing off-vehicle ticket vending machines, and making the mobile ticketing app that is currently in pilot testing a permanent feature.
This year, there is an emphasis on funding in the work plan. In coordination with MARC’s 2018 Call for Projects, the RTCC will assemble a list of priority projects that will help to advance transit and mobility in the region. RTCC will confirm the list at its meeting on March 14, 2018. RTCC will then communicate this list of priorities to MARC’s planning and programming committees as they weigh in on which regional projects to prioritize and ultimately fund.
How will you support transit in 2018? That’s the question we asked RTCC members and other meeting attendees in January. See their responses below!
“Successfully transition ADA eligibility from paper applications to in-person assessments for all regions.”
“Better transportation to and within Liberty.”
“Do my best in helping to facilitate implementation of Riverfront and Main Street extensions of the Kansas City Streetcar.”
“Seek flexible and affordable opportunities to empower mobility-challenged suburbanites.”
“Develop models for Transportation Management Associations for the region to facilitate job access to regional employment centers.”
“Spread the streetcar gospel.”
“Ride public transit services, at least once per week.”
“Support megaregional travel across agency boundaries. Connecting KCMO to other major metros.”
“I resolve to be ultra-fiscally responsible when designing and implementing transit related programs and services.”
“I will plan a trip online (that includes at least one transfer) and will use the RideKC app to pay for the trip.”
“Partner with the Chamber to move their Big 5 transportation initiative forward.”
“Convene conversations with smaller communities.”
“Look under every rock for money.”
“Make a big ask for regional money.”
“Free transit service for all!”
“Improve the process to connect potential riders to service providers (on-demand services). Note: Update Link for Care and connect to RideKC Freedom.”
“Advocate for regional transit funding/collaboration with friends, family and colleagues to help build consensus.”
“Connections/rides/buses – more connections to employers in Clay Co. and Johnson Co. More conducive to shift work and closer to business hubs. Why not connections to Olathe and Lee’s Summit?”
“Don’t talk about transit without talking about land use.”
“Work on and support the streetcar extension.”
“Support and help assist in Prospect MAX completion and autonomous transit.”
“Ride the bus!”
“Continue to educate the public about the importance of transit, elevate the conversation regionally and help move regional funding conversation forward.”
On Feb. 18, the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) honored the legacy of Garrett A. Morgan and his contributions to the transportation industry by exposing some young area students to the work of transportation planners, engineers, architects and others. COMTO hosts the Garrett A. Morgan Shadow Day each year to encourage young people to pursue transportation-related careers and help grow and sustain a workforce to meet the technical demands of the 21st century.
As part of the Shadow Day, 12 students visited the MARC offices to learn about urban and transportation planning from Whitney Morgan and Steven Lachky, two of MARC’s transportation planners. Students also learned about engineering and infrastructure design from Leonard Graham (Taliaferro & Browne) and Vernal Stewart (SE3). The students later visited the Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport, the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, and Metro Transit Centers at 10th and Main and 7th and Minnesota.
The transportation industry can provide great career opportunities for young people, and the demand for both traditional and new skills is expanding. As many experienced members of the transportation workforce approach retirement, the need for skilled, technical workers will grow. Transportation-related industries offer career opportunities for young people in planning, engineering and other related fields. MARC was pleased to participate in the Garrett A. Morgan Shadow Day and share information with local students about these opportunities.