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transportation

Fast-moving viruses come with a cruel twist.

They tend to hammer hardest at people on the front lines of defense, making the rest of us that much more vulnerable.

Truckers, warehouse workers and cargo handlers, all in a vast network, find themselves one endless day after the next getting food, medicine and, yes, toilet paper to customers.

The complex supply logistics of our 21st-century world face a gathering storm even as reliance on those supply chains becomes more critical in the worst public health crisis in generations.

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City’s tourism business has stopped on a dime.

Normally at this time of year, Kansas City limo companies would be busy hauling visitors to basketball games or conventions. Rob Hadi, who drives for Pesh Limousine, says business has cratered in response to the coronavirus.

“We are not getting any calls," says Hadi. "Everything is canceled, groups, a bunch of conventions coming in this weekend and Overland Park. They're all canceling,” says Hadi.

Not to mention the Big 12 Tournament, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Planet Comicon.

Scott Canon / Kansas News Service

TOPEKA, Kansas — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s transportation plan isn’t as bold as those that came before it.

Since the 1990s, Kansas has spent tens of billions of dollars on three successive 10-year programs. Each required a tax increase and launched with a commitment to complete a long list of new building projects.

But Kelly, a Democrat who won election on a promise to restore the state’s finances, isn’t proposing a bunch of new projects. And she isn’t seeking a tax increase to help pay for her plan.

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas is set to release his proposed budget Thursday, and it’s roughly $3 million short of what transportation officials say they need to get rid of bus fares.

Kansas City, Missouri, got national attention last year when the city council pledged to find the money to go fare-free. Officials at the time estimated that it would cost $8 million to pull off.

Daniel Caudill / Kansas News Service

The Kansas House of Representatives has stopped — at least temporarily — an all-out push by anti-abortion groups for a constitutional amendment that they say is needed to maintain the state’s ability to regulate the procedure.

Supporters fell four votes short Friday of putting an amendment on the August primary ballot to overturn a recent Kansas Supreme Court decision that declared abortion a "fundamental" right under the state's Bill of Rights.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

In 2019, 67 guns were seized at security checkpoints at Kansas City International Airport. That is just one shy of the record set in 2017.

But seven years ago that number was just 14. Last year, according to the federal Transportation Security Administration, 48 firearms were discovered by screeners.

Seg. 1: Vision Zero Proposal | Seg. 2: Far-Flung Chiefs Bars

Jan 16, 2020

Segment 1: Kansas City councilman is aiming for zero annual traffic deaths by 2030.

The goal of Vision Zero is simple: eliminate all traffic-related deaths through smarter engineering, education and enforcement. Despite various levels of success in other metropolitan areas, one city official who is convinced it can work explains how.

Segment 1: Kansas City's transportation stories to watch in 2020

A preview of the transportation issues KCUR will be following this year included the Kansas City, Missouri streetcar, free bus rides for those in the city, equity and mobility in the single-terminal KCI project and that futuristic 30-minute ride from Kansas City to St. Louis via the Hyperloop.

SOM

The KCUR news staff presents the State of Kansas City series as a look ahead to 2020 on topics of importance to the region. Find the State of Kansas City report on other topics in the series as they are published each weekday, Jan. 6–Jan. 20. Follow coverage on these topics at KCUR.org and on 89.3 FM throughout the year.

Kansas City is a city of roads — the metropolitan area has long held claim to the highest number of highway miles per capita, which has made it a city of drivers.

Segment 1: What's the deal with this Bike Plan that advocates are trying to push through?

There is a plan for increasing bicycle safety in Kansas City that's been languishing in City Hall for almost a year. The death of a cyclist has ignited a groundswell of urgency for the city to take some kind of action. 

Aviva Okeson-Haberman / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Councilwoman Teresa Loar has come under fire for comments she made about a bike infrastructure plan in the wake of a well-known bicyclist’s death.

Pablo Sanders died last month after being struck by a car while crossing Southwest Trafficway on his bike on Christmas Eve.

Transit isn't about vehicles. It's about people.

When Robbie Makinen lost his vision in 2013 and suddenly had to get around town without his sight, he came to understand that more clearly than ever. Here's his story.

  • Robbie Makinen, CEO, Kansas City Area Transportation Authority

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

The Prospect Avenue MAX bus line that begins running on Monday will charge no fares for the first three months. The $56 million system built with federal grants and local matching funds features faster, more comfortable buses with wifi, and heated concrete benches at the stops.

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said making the service available at no charge is a step toward zero fare transit city-wide.

Segment 1: If Kansas City wants to go green, we have to drive less. Can we do it?

Transportation is the biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, with most of that coming from cars and trucks, but how realistic is it to expect people to break up with their cars in a city that was built for the automobile?

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3 file photo

Two years ago, the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority gave veterans free bus passes. The next year, students became the beneficiaries of the zero fare policy. According to KCATA, 23% of riders over the past several years have not paid a dime to ride the bus.  

Transit officials argue the policy gives individuals and families more money to pump back into the local economy and that it improves the safety and efficiency of the system.

WICHITA, Kansas — This city’s buses all run on diesel.

They navigate Wichita streets with the distinctive rumble of their time-tested engines, belching the distinctive smell of diesel and a concoction of carbon monoxide, particulate matter and nitrogen oxides.

That exhaust clouds the air locally and adds to the greenhouse gases steadily transforming the climate globally.

Virgin Hyperloop One

Missouri wants to catapult its hyperloop progress by being the first to build a national certification track that would span 12 to 15 miles. It's the next step in eventually getting a permanent route in Missouri, according to the Blue Ribbon Panel on Hyperloop report released Monday.

Segment 1: How a fractured school system contributes to problems with transportation.

Kansas City, Missouri, public school kids travel to school on dated buses that crisscross the city inefficiently. That cuts into school budgets, as well as time spent in class and on extra-curriculars. Big thinkers are taking on the issue and envisioning new models for getting kids to and from school.

When it comes to electric scooters, it seems that people either love them, or want to see them all thrown into a river — literally.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority is expanding the Safe Place to include bus routes in Independence, Overland Park, and Kansas City, Kansas.

Arnetta Young, 55, has been a Kansas City bus operator for 20 years. Kansas City busses have been part of the national Safe Space program all that time.

Segment 1: Generational differences in responding to climate change are complex.

Last week's climate strikes in Kansas City were organized by a young Kansas Citian who left the film industry and moved halfway across the country to take on this fight. His story represents a differing sense of urgency around climate change, but more than that, too. 

Virgin Hyperloop One

It sounds like science fiction hype, but supporters believe ultrafast Hyperloop transportation could become reality within a decade, propelling passengers from Kansas City to St. Louis in a 30-minute trip.

“We’ve already completed a feasibility study, and now we’re on to the next steps with this. It’s happening quicker than even I would have guessed,” said KC Tech Council President Ryan Weber, who is working with numerous other Missouri officials on a project that he predicted could be implemented in about seven years.

Segment 1: XP-1, a possible future mode of high-speed transportation, will be on display in Kansas City.

The Hyperloop test pod known as XP-1 is leaving its test site in Nevada and making a stop Kansas City. One expert said, rather than investing in additional lanes for I-70, the multi-billion-dollar hyperloop project could be a more effective use of land, money, and time for travelers between St. Louis and Kansas City. Learn more about the feasibility and funding of the future of transportation. 

Segment 1: School across Kansas and Missouri struggle each year to fill teaching positions.

Having enough teachers to fill classrooms is a perennial problem for schools in all parts of the Kansas City metro. Raytown Schools has created a novel way to address the shortage in their district, but several factors, including pay, are working against Missouri and Kansas districts' efforts to attract and retain qualified talent.

Transit isn't about vehicles; it's about people. When Robbie Makinen lost his vision in 2013 and suddenly had to get around town without his sight, he came to understand that more clearly than ever. Here's his story.

  • Robbie Makinen, CEO, Kansas City Area Transportation Authority

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

LaShanda Temple remembers how quiet the street was that night. It was about 4 a.m. on a Sunday morning this June, and she was leaving a gathering of friends near 31st Street and Benton Boulevard in Kansas City. 

"It was real mellow, you know. Not a lot going on. Not a lot of traffic," she says. 

LaShanda, 36, was about to get into the driver's side of a friend's car to go home when suddenly she heard the squeal of tires and saw headlights coming straight at her.

Anzacosf2010 / Wikimedia Commons

Free public transportation is a bold initiative, and the head of Kansas City's regional transit agency thinks it's viable for Kansas City.

Robbie Makinen, president and CEO of the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, has been a leading proponent of several programs aiming to improve the efficiency of bus service in the region.

But he wants improvements to go beyond the physical transportation itself.

Segment 1: An overhaul of the public transportation system needs input from residents.  

The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority and RideKC is undertaking a system redesign that would bring more than just new bus routes to the metro. To help meet the current needs of riders, they are surveying residents and commuters to find out what's most important to them in public transit.

NorthPoint Development

The highway interchange at I-70 and the Turner Diagonal in Kansas City, Kansas, will soon get a new look that city officials say is decades overdue.

The full commission of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, unanimously approved a development agreement for a $155 million redevelopment project for the area last week, which will involve a redesign of the heavily trafficked intersection.

Segment 1: Kansas City native reveals how her interest in politics developed.

Sarah McCammon discussed her coverage of abortion including what has occurred in her home state, how she started in public radio and what her Kansas City childhood was like. 

Segment 2, beginning at 25:43: Kansas City mayoral candidate conversations

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