Trolleys, Trains, And Travails
The past few days have delivered even more sobering news for trolley and train transit in Kansas City.
First, we learned that Kansas City Southern Railroad pulled its support from Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders’ commuter rail project. The Kansas City Star editorial board lamented this development, but it is noteworthy that a very successful railroad has looked at the proposal and found it lacking. At issue was how the commuter lines would come into Union Station; the railroad apparently wanted to use a track that is not suitable for such use.
But at least that line was to use Union Station. Plans for the streetcars indicate that they will run down the middle of Main Street just to the east of Union Station, and deposit riders into the middle of an intersection.
Meanwhile, on Monday, we learned that an actual streetcar system in Kansas City, the KC Strip, is closing operations because of lack of support from some larger and taxpayer-funded businesses.
So to recap, Kansas City’s never-ending train campaign continues to underwhelm. We wrote recently about how rail fails to take cars off the road and how it loots bus funds. Now it continues despite the experiences of people who run trains and trolleys for a living. If private companies do not support or cannot succeed with rail transit in Kansas City, why would anyone think a government bureaucracy would?
It is time for the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) and other agencies in Kansas City to give up on these train and trolley fantasies and focus on what they have done well for years, running a bus system that best serves the people who actually need and use transit in Kansas City.