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In 2017, The KC Chamber asked Initiatives, Inc., to conduct qualitative interviews in support of the Chamber’s Transportation Big 5 efforts to KC a premier mid-sized smart growth area for the next 20 to 30 years.

Success Story

In 2017, the KC Chamber recently announced its newest Big 5 initiative focused on improving the region’s transportation system to position us as the premier mid-sized smart growth area for the next 20 to 30 years.  More than 100 regional leaders gathered in January for the kick-off where the following transportation needs and issues were identified:

  • • Improving the ability of employees to get to good jobs using public transportation,

  • • Clearing the way for the public and private sectors to leverage emerging technology to plan and operate our transportation systems more effectively,

  • • Finding ways to reverse the recent trends in traffic crashes and fatalities, and

  • • Maintaining and enhancing our transportation systems – assets worth billions

  • • And, perhaps most importantly, a forum or platform from which business can bring its collective voice together to shape our region through transportation improvements and transformation

To that end, the KC Chamber launched an online survey in February 2017 to gather quantitative data from the business community.  However, additional qualitative data was needed from regional employers to inform the goals and direction of this Big 5 initiative by:

  1. Identifying the overarching transportation issues employers face, and

  2. Outlining the attributes of a transportation system which most contribute to the vitality and smart growth of a region.

The KC Chamber asked Initiatives, Inc. to conduct qualitative interviews in support of the Chamber’s Transportation Big 5 efforts.  One-on-one interviews were conducted in person with eleven companies representing fifteen business leaders.  Questions were divided into five major categories:

CURRENT STATE 
WORKFORCE ACCESS 
NEW AIRPORT OPPORTUNITY IMPACT 
GOVERNANCE & FUNDING 
FUTURE STATE 

Major findings were:  

CURRENT STATE 

  • • We need a world-class, hub airport with efficient connections to our metro

  • • We need a much more agile, efficient, connected and data-driven transportation system

  • • Workforce access is more important for non-exempt/hourly employees and not as important for exempt, salaried employees

  • • Workforce access impacts our ability to recruit employees from elsewhere

  • • More flexible access and convenience is required for people to adopt public transportation for work

WORKFORCE ACCESS  

  • • It is more important for non-exempt/hourly employees, primarily from the urban core who need it, and not as important for salaried employees

NEW AIRPORT OPPORTUNITY IMPACT 

  • • Connect the airport to downtown

GOVERNANCE & FUNDING 

  • • An ROI is required for business and industry to consider forming a Transportation Management Association (TMA)

  • • Private, commercial solutions work better than public; especially with the final mile

FUTURE STATE 

  • • Plan smart for Kansas City’s future

  • • Extend the streetcar

  • • Build a world-class, hub airport with efficient connections to our metro

  • • Alleviate parking overhead

  • • The Chamber needs to demonstrate an ROI and build a compelling KC transportation vision and brand

  • • Look at Denver, Dallas/Ft. Worth and Chicago

CONCLUSION 

The business community feels a sense of urgency to leverage the momentum of the new airport.  We now have the opportunity to make it a hub and effectively connect it to downtown as part of a seamless, world-class experience for air travelers.  Flexible workforce access is considered more of an issue for hourly workers than for salaried professionals.  With the emergence of for-profit technology solutions and an increasing need to address expensive infrastructure enhancements, the business community’s appetite for tax assessed public sector solutions is decreasing.

With a rapidly emerging transportation technology market, agility and convenience are no longer a luxury but a requirement for public transportation.  We are in a unique position to carefully choose emerging and disruptive solutions that will work well for Kansas City’s dispersed geographic footprint.  If done right, Kansas City may be able to obtain better and much more cost-effective results than those of other, large cities with prized and expensive transportation infrastructure projects.