Leftridge: KC Voters Approve Tax Increase for Terrible Streetcar Idea

The downtown streetcar is a miserable idea.

There, I said it. And I stand by it, despite the barrage of verbal grenades that the urban core hipsters might see fit to lob in my direction. And they’re entitled to their opinion. But they’re wrong. Because this project is destined to be a $100 million failure.

Look, I LOVE public transportation. I think it’s a vital cog in any real-life big city. But this isn’t real public transportation. This is a slow, hulking nuisance that will serve to shuttle people for a two mile stretch of Main, and, when the novelty wears off (which won’t take long, I promise), it will become a chariot of the down-trodden and indigent. The floor will become sticky with urine and fortified wine and young jackasses will etch their gang name (“TEDDY WAS HURR”) into the body of car while only nobody who cares is looking.

This project—which will be initially heralded as a SHINING BEACON OF PROGRESS!—will ultimately collapse into egregious states of disrepair and, as time marches on, become a cautionary tale of poor civic decision.

See, we already have something that goes up and down Main at very frequent intervals, dropping people off in front of whatever business they wish to frequent. It’s called the Max, it’s a bus, it comes roughly every 10 minutes and it’s quite affordable. You know who mostly doesn’t take the bus? A lot of people who swear that they’ll ride the streetcar every chance they get, that’s who.

I take the bus. Twice a day, usually. I live downtown, I work near the Plaza and I don’t own a car. And after riding the bus in this city for the past three years, I’ve learned that there just aren’t many people like me on the bus: 30-something, middle-class white guys who have someplace to be. Amongst the pee-pants wearing derelicts, the afternoon drunks and the assorted non-English speaking manual laborers, I’m a rarity. A lot of people—especially those whose buy-in will be needed to make the streetcar a success—won’t take the bus because they DON’T want to rub thighs with someone who reeks of Wild Irish Rose and stale vomit.

And I get that. It’s not for everyone.

And the streetcar? Where anyone can ride FOR FREE?

He will ride the streetcar, and he will hug you

It will become a haven for the worst of the bunch, the most odiferous, olfactory assaulting ladies and gents in our fine town. And after an initial ride—WHEEE! WE WENT TO HARRY’S AND THEN TO THE TRAIN STATION!—people will sit back and remember that one time they had the big-city adventure on the neat-o streetcar. And they’ll never come back. Because the streetcar will be dirty and gross and smell like hobo wine-farts within six months.

Look, I know I sound bitter, and like a total shitheel elitist, and to be fair, I probably am. But I also fancy myself a realist. I would loveloveLOVE something in the public transportation arena that would motivate more people to consider mass transit. But a two-mile stretch of streetcar isn’t a solution, it’s a novelty. A very expensive novelty, at that.

So enjoy your streetcar while it’s shiny and new, 700 people who voted to approve this ridiculous expenditure; your desire for unnecessary items is a true demonstration of democracy in action.


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41 Responses to Leftridge: KC Voters Approve Tax Increase for Terrible Streetcar Idea

  1. chuck says:

    Right outta the park Lefty.

    Another monument to political ego and the misguided dreams of folks in who, if they wanna be in a city like Denver, should move to fu*kin Denver.

    This initiative reveals more about us as citizens of this city, than it does about the ill advised dreams of those same citizens. We have consistantly elected politicians on ‘form over substance’ since Charley Wheeler. Our self loathing is almost sacramental at this point. How can we be happy with our city until it is like ( Your favorite city inserted here. )?

    The city is removing stoplights, ignoring sewers, water main breaks, laying off cops, neglecting street repair, bridge repair (There is a lot to be done on bridges, my hat does go off to MoDot who came in under budget and 6 weeks early on the Broadway Bridge.), turning it’s head away from the real source of crime and addressing same, pretending that education is important-

    THIS is education in public schools all over America.


    pizzing away money for Floyd Mayweather a convicted felon/ghetto retard to come and speak with urban children about life (“Here is the exact punch I threw at dat bitch.”), pro sports cash for rich out of town owners, cash subsidies and TIFs for the P&L outta town Cordish sh*theels who are failing miserably to turn downtown into any semblnce of the etherial “City on the Hill” that I assume the politicians of our freshly remembered past (See- The politicians in place now.) had in mind and instead have saddled this city with ANOTHER loser while trying their very best to kill off Westport and the plaza.

    The Toy Train, as Tony Botello calls it, should make a stop at the Citadel and 18th and Vine to remind us all, while we are packed to the gills on that ONE ride, just how fuc*ed up our ideas in this city are, when it comes to actually promoting economic health with the people who ACTUALLY LIVE HERE.

    Is anyone paying attention to the cost of gas?

    We will be the number one producer of energy in the world in 24 to 36 months.

    Aside from the astonishing, and I mean ASTONISHING news that we have more oil in South Dakota than there is in Saudi Arabia (In 1973 and EVERY day since then until about a year ago, we were told incessantly that peak oil, blah, blah, blah and get ready to ride your Palomino to work Tonto, cause your car was dead in the driveway.), what this means, is MORE expansion into the suburbs, NOT LESS as people flee en masse from crime, urban culture and a moribund city life by way of expeditures just like this.

    City Hall needs to repair the city’s infrastrucure and gurantee safety.

    As the city heals its wounds, while making sure it is solvent, it’s future will unfold naturally.

    It really is a great city, it can only be what it is.

    That will be good enough. We need to be comfortable in our own skin.


    • Those right there… those are good points.

      Well done.

    • harley says:

      right chuckles…we need to seriously repair the infrastructure in this
      so why does every right winger want to hold up jobs and income to
      do this…when we spend money on infrastructure it comes back in
      increased tax revenue…investing in infrastructure is a great investment!!!
      maybe you should run for office chuck…..clean house…….

      • chuck says:

        I don’t dissagree with repair of the infrastructure.

        As always, the oversimpification of any problem and an oversimplified panacea with concomitant response does not address the actual problem.

        Here is the actual problem.


        Look, teh local, state and fed govt. should be, in a perfect or even shouting distance to within perfect, good stewards of the tax payers cash.

        Here, in this town, the folks stuffing and manipulating the ballot box for this ego driven loser, are NOT good stewards of our monies.

        The track record is fuc*ing abysmal.

        Trying to simplify everything to a myopia that includes only a Republican and Democratic take is counter productive.

        This initiative is a loser and will waste money.

  2. smartman says:

    The Coal Hauler Cometh. East Siders are already laying down cash as bounty for the first confirmed kill of Whitey. Can’t wait for the RFQ to see if the word bulletproof is in it.

    • harley says:

      lefty…wrong again.
      the money to pay for this comes from the businesses in the area of
      the trolley. Its not a city wide tax. Read the paper. So if you don’t
      like it…don’t ride it. Pretty simple. And it won’t cost you anything.
      and lefty…if its so bad …its so disgusting…how come a 30 something
      middle class guy like you doesn’t own a car….what?

      • Harls:

        Where did I say it was a “city-wide” tax? I didn’t. It IS a tax, though. Not sure what you think it means when businesses and people pay more money to the government.

        • harley says:

          oh i get it lefty…you and chuckles are all for freedom…
          letting the market forces take their steps…
          letting people decide for themselves…so when that
          happens and you don’t like it you scream…
          and like all the headlines on kcc…yours is very
          ambiguous….KC VOTERS….you should have written
          that these were people in the area of the transportation…
          and again lefty…if you read the other side…they said
          similar systems in other towns really get those areas
          expanding……..but i know…you don’t want to let the
          other side express their opinions.
          if its so bad to ride the disgusting bus…go get a
          freaking car!!!!!!!!! you’re a professional…this isn’t
          chicago or new york…or st. louis…..
          if it doesn’t cost you why bitch..you’re not paying for it.
          another right winger trying to tell people what to do with their money…you right wingers are something
          else…trying to control everything…..
          if you don’t like it…don’t ride it….ride a bike…take
          a taxi….walk….skateboard….have chuckles get you
          one of those senior scooters….but let others decide
          their own fate.
          its their money…not yours!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
          if the people democratically vote for it…why are you
          right wingers trying to take away their freedom??????

          • chuck says:

            I think it is pretty interesting that Harley is ok with a manipulation of the ballot box that would embarrass Tom Pendergast, but is no doubt ok with letting ANY illegal who can fog a mirror vote for president.

            Eric Holder must be in on this somehow.

            THAT is how unseemly and nefarious this entire episode appears.

            There is fire in that smoke and teh source of the heat is tax dollars ill spent.

          • Harley: You know NOTHING about my politics. Please. And how do you figure I WON’T be paying for this?? Please read:

            Through a 1-percent sales tax at businesses within the TDD and special annual assessments over the next 25 years. There are five kinds of assessments:
            1. Commercial property: 48 cents for each $100 of assessed value. (For commercial property in Missouri, assessed value is 32 percent of market value.) The owner of a $2 million office building would pay an extra $3,000 in property taxes a year.
            2. Residential property: 70 cents for each $100 of assessed value. (For residential property in Missouri, assessed value is 19 percent of market value.) The owner of a $200,000 condo would pay an extra $266 in property taxes a year.
            3. City property: $1.04 for each $100 of assessed value. This comes to about $810,000 from the city annually.
            4. Nonprofit property: 40 cents for each $100 of assessed value. But that’s only on market values over $300,000. A nonprofit with a market value of $300,000 or below wouldn’t pay anything extra in taxes. A nonprofit with a market value of $500,000 would pay $256 in property taxes a year.
            5. Parking spaces: Commercial surface parking lots would pay an assessment of $54.75 a year per parking space.

            First, you’re assuming that I DON’T own commercial or residential property, and THEN you’re assuming that associated costs for most of these taxes WON’T be passed on to consumers. Give me a break.

            Look, I have NO PROBLEM with increasing taxes for something that warrants it; this streetcar is simply ridiculous and will ultimately prove to be a horrendous waste of $. It has nothing to do with politics.

            Either you’re trying to play Devil’s Advocate or you’re seriously misguided.

          • chuck says:

            Harley, don’t you live in JoCo?

          • harley says:

            chuckles…i’m not for any voting irregularities..
            especially the voter suppression tried and failed
            by the right wing nut in november…
            i live in joco…hwere taxes have gone up
            over 15% ubder brownbak.
            i’m not familiar with the vote on this thing..
            i really don’t care about this trolley..but if
            people want to pay for it themselves…let them
            have at it…i pay for taxes i didn’t vote for.
            as far as any illegal…chuckles a study was
            done and the fraud was .0005%…according to
            republican studies…hardly a reason to spend
            millions on voter suppression to try and curtail
            the vote. But let me helpyou unde5rstand chuckles it didn’t work….won’t work…repubs
            are making a last stand inamerica…just a matter
            of time before they are extinct…or just
            a regional force…..
            what is unseemly about this vote…don’t understnad what thats about…
            but its confined to a small area of the city…
            and they voted for it…democratic election
            …so let them spend their money how they see
            obviously some people think its a great
            lefty…i assume you don’t own property.IF YOU
            if youdon’t then move…don’t want to pay the
            tax…move…did you vote on this? answer
            if you don’t want to pay the tax move or shop
            somehwere else…
            i would think this transit would be good for
            someone in their 30’s without a car.
            You can ride the transit all day…i thin it would
            be fun…but i have a car that allows me the
            freedom to decide where and when i travel.
            remember i picked the prez winner 14 months in
            advance and got the electoral vote right on!!!!!
            so stop the b.s…get back to facts.
            if youpay for this think then you have a right
            to complain…and i’m sure you will..
            please tell uws more about the election..
            and tell us why a 30 year old sharp guy middle
            class doesn’t have a car in kc…interesting.
            inquiring minds want to know!!!!!

          • Jesus H Christ says:

            Harley, for the love of G-D, when I died for your sins I had no idea what an enormous douchebag you would end up being. I’d explain that in more understandable detail for you but I dont have any crayons.

  3. Rick Nichols says:

    Now I’m normally a mass transit guy,
    But I don’t think this “toy train” will fly –
    So lay more “track” to extend the route,
    Or I’m afraid you’ll have to count me out.

  4. chuck says:

    Responsible government in this city,
    The dearth of which, it’s such a pity,
    We can only take solace in Rick’s ditties,
    While the mayor tell us, “Hey, it’s just tough ti**ies.”

  5. the dude says:

    Didn’t the real voters actually approve legally in a city-wide election a real light rail plan a few years ago. Oh yeah, the representative crooks didn’t have their hands in that cookie jar from the word go so they had to poo poo that one. Just another cash grab for Sly and his cronies.

    This little toy train to nowhere will essentially kill the desire for an actual light rail system that could actually work. And that is a shame because even this spread out city could use a true light rail system that actually takes people places.

    • “This little toy train to nowhere will essentially kill the desire for an actual light rail system that could actually work. And that is a shame because even this spread out city could use a true light rail system that actually takes people places.”

      100% agree.

      • harley says:

        heard that kc won’t get big events because it doesnt have
        mass transit…
        for us in joco its just another stupid move…someone likes
        it…city hall wants it…and if its being paid for by the people
        in the area let them spend their money the wya they want to.
        its their choice…i’d probbly never ride it but mayve on
        st. patricks day…
        sorry lefty…i just think if people want it they’ll pay for it..
        i can’t complain…its their money!!!
        its choice..just like you choosing to ride those disgusting
        buses with low lifes because y ou don’t want to buy a car..
        its your choice…i think itsstrange…but like i said its
        your decision….not mine!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • chuck says:

          Harley- you are the king of MYTHinformation.

          “heard that kc won’t get big events because it doesnt have mass transit…”

          Orange County Fla has the largest convention availability in the US. 2,100,000 Square Feet.

          They do not have light rail, and here is what they found out from a Grand Jury.


          Some noteworthy points.


          Light rail will have negligible impact on traffic congestion because it attracts few automobile drivers from their cars.
          Demographic trends will make light rail much less effective than predicted by planners.
          Light rail is expensive. The most cost-effective, federally funded systems have required subsidies of $5,000 and more per new ride. New rides are those riders brought out of their cars and into the transit system.
          Light rail is inflexible once in place. The OCTA’s bus system routes are adjusted three times a year.
          Light rail cost and ridership forecasts will be erroneous and biased in favor of light rail.
          Light rail will not spur development. Development along light rail corridors is spurred by tax subsidies, not light rail.
          Light rail will not improve commuter travel times, energy conservation and safety.
          There is a promotion of light rail by OCTA in its public Outreach/Center Line documents and briefings, rather than a process of study, analysis and evaluation as to light rail’s merits and cost benefit.

          The Grand Jury recommends that:

          The OCTA Directors be made aware of the national experience in light rail over the past 18 years and light rail’s documented inability to solve urban transit problems such as traffic congestion and pollution. Along those lines, we further suggest that disinterested experts from academia be invited to provide the historical perspective to the Directors.
          The Directors instruct the OCTA staff to amend Outreach Programs to include data regarding the recent and ongoing national experience regarding the cost-efficiency and efficacy of light rail in failing to solve urban problems of traffic congestion, pollution, etc.
          The OCTA establish and publish in their Outreach literature measurable goals for light rail regarding the amount of traffic congestion reduction, pollution abatement, and cost effectiveness issues which will be used as “build-no build” criteria for the development decision process.

  6. Super Dave says:

    Very interesting comments.

    But Brandon is dead on plain and simple. What gets me is the village idiot can explain why the trolley is such a folly but nobody else seems to get it.

  7. —No light rail system would work in Kansas City.—

    It would cost way more than it would ever give back to the economy. We need to stop thinking in the past and look towards the future. We buried train tracks under pavement for a reason.

    As Brandon points out, the majority of public transit riders in Kansas City use it because they have no other option. If you want more people like Brandon to use the system, you have to make it easy, predictable, safe, and even COOL; most of which can be accomplished with a smart phone app that costs far less than $100M and would have a much greater impact on the entire city than a short, fixed rail line through the heart of downtown that serves no purpose other than to disrupt traffic and prove that Sly James’ dick is bigger than everyone else’s.

    Seriously, if there was an app that clearly plotted routes, tracked buses, estimated commute times, etc. it would take a lot of the guess work out of the equation for a lot of the suburbanites in JoCo and the Northland who have little to no experience with public transportation beyond the Oktoberfest shuttle. Why isn’t someone doing this?

  8. chuck says:

    City Hall is out of control here, like it is in Detroit and like it is in Atlanta.


  9. Don says:

    Keep in mind when it comes to generating the tax revenue for this only residents of the area that the streetcar goes were allowed to vote. If you own a business along the route then you got no say unless you happen to live in that area. 100 million pulled from these businesses with not create any job growth. This is a stupid idea.

    • Yep. That is my understanding as well.

      • train conductor says:

        Leftridge: Why don’t you go buy a car? What upscale 30- something guy in kc doesn’t have an automobile? What’s up
        with that?

        • Brandon Leftridge says:

          1) Upscale? HA!
          2) Your syntax gets remarkably better when you use an alias, Harley.
          3) I don’t need a car. The bus gets me everywhere I need to go.

          • paulwilsonkc says:

            Brandon, its amazing what some people think SOME people will fall for, isn’t it? Make up a new name no one on here has heard of, then write the same way!! (or close enough a 3rd grader could decode it) As Forrest said, “stupid is as stupid does.”

  10. snappietom says:

    I did not know that KC Confidential was the “go to” source for urban transportation professional opinions. This issue was voted on and was passed. Support it or don’t.

    • the dude says:

      Twice, to be precise. But we all know what happened after the first yea vote.
      The crooks didn’t have their grubby little hands on that one from inception so they had to torpedo it and serve us the current pile of dung to ingest.

    • Wasn’t aware that we had to be “experts” to discuss it. This is simply one person’s opinion and you choose to read it, or you don’t.

      That said, thanks for reading.

    • Super Dave says:

      Well I will say this much, the city has no experts either for if they did this stupid trolly folly scam would have never made it this far.

  11. Jim A says:

    Any conversation about KC that doesn’t address:

    1) The KCMO Schools.
    2) Crime

    In that order, is a complete waste of time. Nothing in this entire metro will ever be as much as it can be until the schools are fixed, and crime addressed (and schools being addressed with help the crime). To spend $100 million on a two-mile, free admission train to take us from one boring part of the city to another is not a game-changer. To spend this while our school district remain unaccredited and we are the ranked 16th in violent crime? Malpractice.

    I will say – if the train happens I would like to do a whole thing like in the movie Risky Business – Rebecca De Mornay was incredibly hot.

    • DJ says:

      100 million would pay for a lot of police protection. The problems with the school district aren’t financial, they are administrative and cultural.

      This seems to be a way for the city council to line the pockets of their cronies, nothing more.

      • Jim A says:

        I agree with the School funding issue – it isn’t a problem of funding. I also agree that it would put lots of cops on the street. As for lining the pockets, I also agree. If we are going to have corruption – don’t you long for the good old days when the Pendergast machine ran the politics and the Mafia ran the crime. KC seemed to be a better place then. Dare I say “exciting” even. As it is, it’s just a violent shithole with bad schools, a useless 2 mile train, horrible newspaper and sports teams that even Cleveland wouldn’t trade for.

  12. Rodney Jameson says:

    Anyone who consistently reads “lefty’s” columns knows he’s in step with the right-wing movement about as much as John Boehner is in step with the poetry of Tupac Shakur. This isn’t a political column as it reads as a column about common sense. If the city has x amount of dollars to spend and y methods to do so, why are we exhausting those funds and methods on a fn 2 mile streetcar when we have a damn bus to do the same job? The reasoning is that the local will was to provide an alternative to the “bus stigma” for the refined white-folk to shuttle about from bar-to train station-back to bar. Evidently, the political capital was seen to be best used promoting a classier in-house scenery for hipsters and surburbanites to travel along path that would take about 20 minutes to walk. Whether it stays “classy,” or as I believe, will soon mirror the glory of the bus scene, the point is that the streetcar says more about the incompetence and inefficiency of city planners than it does about any macro view of public transportation. To harley, as a competent left-winger, I am appalled by your logic. Your repeated harping to urban dwellers to love the streetcar or move away from the city sound eerily similar to those same idiots on the right who justify every wasteful, irrational, and detrimental policy decision by the American government by shouting “Love it or Leave it!” What’s next man, you gonna dish out some serious laughs with “that’s what she said jokes?” Ideally, maybe everyone should get their own hotty-totty lil streetcar to parade about the city. But to place the needs of folks to ride about a 2-mile stretch of city before other “leftist” needs of attracting some damn jobs to the city and fixing the pathetic KCSD’s educational system trivializes those causes, and is moreover detrimental to the ability of those causes to be addressed by intellectual and pragmatic leftists as opposed to the Sly James’ of the city. Harley, I would label you as a ‘hollywood leftist.’ You scream “what about the children” as you step out of your limo in a $10,000 tuxedo. A real leftist would show up in a t-shirt and jeans, explain to the Joan Rivers of the world that we donated the $ of the tux to a worthwhile charity, and take a figurative crap on that red carpet. Until the left aligns its priorities with its stated objectives, we shouldn’t expect any rational citizen to take our platform seriously. Nor should they.

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