Kansas City mayor Sly James and most of city council are for a new $100 million streetcar system that will connect much of midtown to downtown. The plan calls for an early try with the first streetcar route between the River Market and Union Station.
Of course taxpayers get to pay for the, uh, experiment.
So while both presidential hopefuls go on and on about lowering our federal income taxes, the bigger load continues to fall on city and state taxes for business. These once small amounts of two and three percent have risen to 10% and more over the last couple decades. And as we add the bills up to be paid by small businesses with increased taxes, it’s created major stress in a slowed economy.
Two big questions on the streetcar system are, do we need one today and will it make our city grow?
There’s not very much midtown traffic today at all. Having lived in LA, I can tell you that our lack of backed up highways and major streets in the city are one of the best things about Kansas City. Much of that is because our city is large in size and small in population.
Everyone who works, for the most part, has a car. Those that don’t ride the bus, but most buses I see are empty or close to it. I NEVER see young upwardly mobile young people riding a bus. Unless it’s just for fun like the Bill Nigro led Westport late night crowd going bar to bar.
Our downtown has only a few thousand people living there. All of our shopping is on the Plaza and up North. Downtown has no retail to speak of at all. So I guess it’s for the urban core to go back and forth to work or home and those who have cars will never use it.
So no, I don’t think it’s needed.
As far as making our city grow, you need to have a real downtown or midtown in the first place. Even with the Power and Light, Sprint Center and some condos, downtown has miles to go to become attractive for upper middle income people to want to live in that area. True, the apartments will help. So we need to make it nicer, safer and at least add one or two gas stations, Quick Trips and a retail store first.