Wednesday, June 25, 2014


TKC Note . . . Really great insight that's both thoughtful and fair from a KICK-ASS TKC READER this evening . . . Check it:


I'm going to get up on the soapbox for a couple of minutes here and I hope you'll hang with me.

Concerning the issue of streetcars in Kansas city? I would suggest that maybe this is an opportunity to open up a bigger discussion. One beyond just the streetcar to include where this city has been, where it is, and what it is going to be in the next 50-100 years.

The fact that this streetcar project is even necessary is another example of one of the MANY times that city leaders have lacked REAL vision for the long-term impact of their decisions.

It's also a cautionary tale about what the city wants to do with the new system and the proposed airport. Too many times they've made decisions primarily for THAT moment in time, without looking 10-30+ years into the future.

The truly sad fact is that EVERYTHING related to:

- The current street car project. - The near-abandonment of downtown in the 1960s-2000s period. - The need for the flurry of new construction downtown in last few years.

Didn't have to be the way it has unfolded over the last 50+ years!

In the early 30s to late 50s, Kansas City was acknowledged as having one of the best streetcar systems in the United States!

Check out the map on the Wikipedia link - that system went well into KCK, Independence, and way down to the south of downtown!

If the city hadn't dismantled the line and sold the cars (some of them are still in operation today in San Francisco and Philadelphia), Kansas City would probably be a VERY different town:

- The line could have been continually upgraded and expanded. - Downtown might have continued to grow and thrive with a mix of apartments and businesses. - There wouldn't have been this "WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING NOW!!!" attitude about the P&L, the streetcar line, etc.

For that matter, with a thriving downtown, maybe:

- KCI is built on the grounds the Wheeler Airport (formerly Municipal), centrally located for everyone as well as close and convenient to downtown - The Truman Sports Complex is built much closer to downtown.

That list goes on and on. My real point is that the city has consistently lacked LONG-TERM vision on almost every major decision in the last sixty years.

And I'm not a negative person. I hope the P&L thrives. I hope the streetcar line turns out to be a good thing. I hope whatever happens with KCI works out.

But given the track record of the decision makers? The odds are against it.


Anonymous said...

This guy nails it, got to think about this LONG TERM.

Anonymous said...

An done of the most important aspects of serious long-term thinking is understanding that the entire region can become much more cohesive economically and politically, if there are leaders who focus on developing relationships, trust, and understanding among states, counties, and cities that can then further grow into inter-local projects and cost-sharing which work to the entire area's benefit.
But it takes big thinkers, as the poster points out, and it akes elected officials who both understand and appreciate public policy, and such folks are woefully lacking and have been for a long time.
But that's how mayors and county officials should be spending their time, not running around pandering to every little group, attending social functions, and planning what offices they're going to run for next.
Nothing like what the poster correctly suggests is even faintly on the horizon.
And the messianic spending and focus on the little streetcar project is a great example.
But that's why the KC region is becoming LESS competitive, as recently reported.
The two states, seven counties, and 115 municipalities in the metro could form a powerful alliance, if only all the parochialism and self-importance didn't constatly get in the way.
Really a shame.

Anonymous said...

Slie - Mayor Sly James fired back that the city is following a required process to ensure that the project, if voters approve, would be eligible for federal funding.

FTA: No federal requirement for door-to-door meetings - Kansas City Business Journal

​There is no federal mandate requiring Kansas City or its contractors to hold door-to-door meetings before part of the city votes on a proposed extension of the streetcar project, according to the Federal Transit Administration.

Anonymous said...

Whats he or she doing here if they are not a negative person?

Jobu said...

This guy has a good perspective, wish KC elected's would pay attention. But they only want cheerleaders. Some people are optimistic, they just don't want to drink the kool aid.

theEditor said...

While Kansas City is focused on lame streetcar technology which is not sustainable and will fail again... other cities are looking at green initiatives like solar roadways. Don't you just love babyboomers?

Anonymous said...

The whole streetcar concept is ridiculous. Buses were an advancement. Going back to a fixed track system is...what? Nostalgic?

Trains might work but they'd have to be fast and work College Blvd, airport, downtown and key places in between...wth parking lots.

Problem with mass transit is that people need door to door...and sadly, this isn't an urban city...its built around cars.

This aint urban NY, WASH, Boston where people live in the dense city. We live in the suburbs. All spread out.

Mass transit's got to get a lot better before it'll really work... and spending money on a short line or a stupid streetcar is not well planned.

Not planned for US! We don't WALK here to final destination. We're not part of the NY culture of walking to the subway, riding and walking to work.

Anonymous said...

agree with the editor.

Sly killed KC democracy.

Anonymous said...

We get the rail system that Burns & Mac is going to give us. It's already decided and the public wasn't a part of the process. Gasoline is beginning to climb fast putting pressure on Burns & Mac to serve the public interest for mass transit.

Anonymous said...

You're all over the place with that comment but I partially agree.

Anonymous said...

The last successful at least partly regional effort was the bi-state tax to renovate Union Station, which was then followed by a massively excessive artrs proposal which appropriately went down in flames.
As the largest municipal jurisdiction in the metro, it would be nice if KCMO electeds demonstrated at least a little interest in building a more cohesive region, but they're way too caught up in fluff like All Star Games and financial insanity like the streetcar fiasco.
Does anyone really think that the mayors and city councils of other communities in the metro (and there are 115 of them) want to become a part of the kind of high-handed insider nonsense that they see every day from KCMO?
A metro area in two states and seven counties could be a big plus. But not without the leadership to make that happen.

Anonymous said...

Streetcars went away because the were obsolete. People wanted to live in the burbs, they did not abandon the inner city because the streetcars went away.

Just as a lack of streetcars did not send them to the burbs, building streetcars does not bring them back.

Anonymous said...

7:51 is correct. The only way the Toy Train idea would ever work will be determined by the price of gasoline. When gasoline hits 5 to 8 bucks a gallon many douche bags will have to decide on a couple of gallons of gas to drive to P&L for a $ 8.00 draft or catch the "Toy Train" and have pocket change.

That is when the douche bags will choose the Toy Train. When beer is involved.

Then Toy Train will have little effect on the hood rats as they will rob and steal either way.

Anonymous said...

Nope. I grew up with gas under 30 cents a gallon. People will just adapt to higher gas prices just as we have done with today's prices.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Kansas City once had cable cars, just like San Francisco still has. But then San Francisco was run by people who had at least a little sense of vision.

Tourists still flock to SF to ride the cable cars.

Tourists have never flocked to KC except briefly in the '20s and '30s, and then it was for jazz, booze and cheap poontang.

Anonymous said...

San Francisco is mostly supported by those who inherited money or made their wealth elsewhere. Not every city can survive off trust fund babies and tourists. Some like KC should produce and innovate instead of imitating.

Anonymous said...

KCI at the downtown airport? That sounds as stupid as the toy train does.

Who the hell wants big ass planes flying non-stop around downtown? Besides, the downtown airport has zero room for expansion for the larger planes.

Anonymous said...

70 years of subsidizing sprawl set people to the suburbs.

Investing modestly in the core for a decade is somehow a huge controversy with you morons though.

Anonymous said...

Because the suburbs re leeches

Literally the worst suburbs of any metro in the us, absolutely devoid of any institutional understanding of the relationship of suburbs to core cities.

Kc suburbs = Joplin

Anonymous said...

this is revisionist history. The reason why the urban core is what it is lies in the fact that after MLK was shot blacks burned half the city to the ground so whites moved out.