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Prospect MAX Bus Decision Expected From Court Soon

Kyle Gradinger

Any day now, Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Marco Roldan is expected to hand down a decision that would allow an election to create a special transit taxing district.

The decision could determine the fate of a new MAX bus line along Prospect Avenue in Kansas City, Mo. 

The city hopes to enhance transit along the east side corridor with a MAX, or Metro Area Express line, as it has done successfully along Main Street and Troost Avenue. 

The fate of the new line is tied to a proposed eight-mile expansion of streetcar lines that are under construction downtown.

The streetcar expansion and Prospect MAX would both be funded by a special taxing district known as a Transportation Development District (TDD). Under the provision of the TDD, the city would levy a one-cent sales tax on residents within the boundaries of the district, as well as special property assessment for those closest to the new streetcar lines. The parameters of the proposed district are the Missouri River south to Gregory, Interstate 435 east to State Line Road.       

There's been vocal opposition to the streetcar expansion. Critics spoke out during public hearings in Jackson County, arguing the taxes are unfair. They say the sales tax would fall disproportionately on low-income residents who don’t’ live near the street car lines.     

In community meetings to explain the Propsect MAX, however, Kansas City Area Transportation Authority officials explained the bus routes are meant to work in tandem with the street car, improving overall public transit for an underserved area. The property assessments would not affect residents along most routes of the new Prospect MAX, officials said.      

Dick Jarrold with the transportation authority said public comments on the Prospect MAX were generally positive.

“The community would like to see the Prospect MAX built ... as quickly as possible,” Jarrold said.

If the authority adds the new MAX routes, it would be scheduled to run about every 10 minutes. The frequency of local buses along Prospect would be trimmed to roughly every 30 minutes, Jarrold said.

Projections for the cost of the Prospect MAX are $43 million in capital investments for the buses and stations. Operating costs are projected at an estimated $1 million to $2 million annually.  

If the judge approves the streetcar/bus plan, the first of  of two elections on the transportation development district will be held Aug. 5.

Credit KCATA
Educational material distributed by the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority outlines the plans for the new MAX line.

This look at Kansas City's east side is part of KCUR's months-long examination of how geographic borders affect our daily lives in Kansas City. KCUR will go Beyond Our Borders and spark a community conversation through social outreach and innovative journalism.

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