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Kansas City, Missouri/Southtown Corridor

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Southtown Corridor

Kansas City, Missouri

(November 1998)


The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) is proposing a 15.2-mile light rail transit (LRT) project in the Southtown Corridor. This Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) is estimated to cost $490 million (1997 dollars) and would carry 16,800 riders per day in 2010. The corridor would extend from the riverfront and downtown Kansas City south to the Country Club Plaza (Plaza) and to 85th Street and Holmes Road. The project would also include an eastern line from the Plaza to Watkins Drive and south to 75th Street. KCATA proposes to build the project in phases, starting with a 5.6 miles segment from the River Market to 51st Street at the southern edge of the Plaza. The segment is estimated to cost $220 million (1997 dollars) and would carry 10,800 riders per day in 2010. FTA has estimated total project costs in year of expenditure (YOE) at $247.7 million, with an estimated Section 5309 share of $198.2 million.

Southtown Corridor Summary Description

Proposed Project Light rail line
5.6 miles
Total Capital Cost ($YOE) $247.70 million
Section 5309 Share ($YOE) $198.20 million
Annual Operating Cost ($YOE) $8.40 million
Ridership Forecast (2010) 10,800 daily boardings
4,800 daily new riders
FY 2000 Financial Rating: Low
FY 2000 Project Justification Rating: Not Rated
FY 2000 Overall Project Rating: Not Recommended

The overall project rating applies to this Annual New Starts Report and reflects conditions as of November 1998. Project evaluation is an ongoing process. As new starts projects proceed through development, the estimates of costs, benefits, and impacts are refined. The FTA ratings and recommendations will be updated annually to reflect new information, changing conditions, and refined financing plans.


In 1995, the Alternatives Analysis/Major Investment Study (MIS) was completed and the Southtown Corridor LRT was included in the Mid-America Regional Council (the MPO) adopted long range transportation plan. In October 1995, FTA approved the initiation of Preliminary Engineering (PE) on the project. The PE phase has progressed slowly as local officials reassessed the need for light rail and reconsidered the alignment options for downtown.

Section 3030 (a) (33) authorizes the Kansas City Southtown Corridor for final design and construction. Through FY 1999, Congress has appropriated $4.48 million in Section 5309 New Start funds for this project (of which $0.46 million was rescinded in FY 1995).


KCATA indicates that several of the New Start criteria are not available at this time. Available data presented below is for the 5.6-mile initial segment. (N/A indicates that data are not available for specified measures at this time.)


Mobility Improvements

Rating: Not Rated

KCATA estimates that the 5.6-mile route will increase total transit trips (bus and rail) by 4,850 per day. However, information is not available on annual travel time savings.

Mobility Improvements New Start vs. No-Build New Start vs. TSM
Annual Travel Time Savings (Hours) N/A N/A

Information is not available on the estimated number of low-income households within a ½ mile radius of the project's proposed stations.

Environmental Benefits

Rating: Not Rated

Kansas City is a "maintenance" area for ozone and carbon monoxide. KCATA reports the following changes in emissions.

Criteria Pollutant New Start vs. No-Build New Start vs. TSM
Carbon Monoxide (CO) N/A N/A
Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) N/A N/A
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) N/A N/A
Particulate Matter (PM10) N/A N/A
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) N/A N/A

KCATA estimates that in 2010, the project would result in the following savings in regional energy consumption measured in British Thermal Units – BTU):

Annual Energy Savings New Start vs. No-Build New Start vs. TSM
BTU (millions) N/A N/A

Operating Efficiencies

Rating: Not Rated

Information is not available on estimated operating costs per passenger mile.

Operating Efficiencies No-Build TSM New Start
System Operating Cost per Passenger Mile N/A N/A N/A

Cost Effectiveness

Rating: Medium

KCATA estimates the following cost effectiveness indices.

Cost Effectiveness New Start vs. No-Build New Start vs. TSM
Incremental Cost per Incremental Passenger $14.18 $14.69

Values reflect 2010 ridership forecast and 1997 dollars.

Transit-Supportive Existing Land Use and Future Patterns

Rating: Medium

The LRT Starter Line will serve the highest population and employment densities in the Kansas City metropolitan area, including the Central Business District, Crown Center, and Country Club Plaza. The project area is experiencing renewed growth. KCATA has studied the corridor’s development potential, including proposed station sites, and is developing a joint development policy. The Kansas City’s Comprehensive Plan (FOCUS) adopted in 1997, recommends light rail as one of several strategies to generate redevelopment and new development in the Southtown Corridor, as well as other portions of the Kansas City area. This plan includes policy recommendations aimed at promoting transit-oriented development. The City is now contemplating strategies to implement these policies, including a new zoning ordinance and targeted incentives.

Local Financial Commitment

Proposed Non-Section 5309 Share of Total Project Costs: 20%

KCATA’s financial plan for the 5.6-mile Starter Line proposes $176 million (80 percent) in Section 5309 New Start funds and $44 million (20 percent) in State funds.

Stability and Reliability of Capital Financing Plan

Rating: Low

The Low capital plan rating reflects the absence of any non-Federal funding for the project at this time. KCATA’s proposed finance plan is contingent on an increase to the statewide general sales tax, which would require legislative approval to be put to the voters. The finance plan presents only the incremental costs of light rail development and does not consider the agency’s other short and long-term capital needs. KCATA provided a 20-year cash flow analysis on the rail project only and not on the total system.

Stability and Reliability of Operating Finance Plan

Rating: Low

The Low operating plan rating is based on the lack of operating revenue sources for the project. One-half cent of the general sales tax in Kansas City is dedicated to transit. KCATA has been forced to reduce bus operations staffing and decrease bus service levels in recent years due to funding shortfalls in the local sales tax. This represents a source of concern for future system expansion. Current farebox recovery ratio is 20 percent. Additional operating funds are expected to come from the proposed state source of funds. These funds are not approved nor implemented at this time. The finance plan does not address any other contingent sources of funds in the event the sales tax increase is not approved.

Proposed Source of Funds Total Funding
Appropriations to Date
Federal: Section 5309 New Starts $176.00 $4.48 million appropriated through FY 1999)
State: $44.00 N/A
Total: $220.00

Note: Funding proposal reflects assumptions made by project sponsors, and are not DOT or FTA assumptions. Totals may not add due to rounding. Dollars escalated by FTA.

[Southtown Corridor Map (PDF)]

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