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Can KCATA Make Transit Oriented Development a Reality in Kansas City?
Audio tour of Kansas City Episode 2227th March 2024 • Transit Unplugged • Paul Comfort, SVP Modaxo
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Frank White III is a strong advocate of Transit Oriented Development (TOD) and has a track record of making it happen. He oversaw TOD for Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) before becoming CEO nearly two years ago, now faced with a fiscal cliff, Frank is pushing KCATA into the future of transit and TOD.

KCATA was one of the first systems to go fare free during the pandemic, but that decision to keep people riding has a clear cost--KCATA doesn't have farebox revenue to close funding gaps, but TOD could change that. Developing land managed by the agency could bring in not only more revenue for the agency, but also an economic boost for the region. Already the KCATA MAX BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) line is connecting parts of the city cut off from one another, and combined with KC Streetcar (a separate but cooperative agency), brings real economic development to both sides of the Kansas-Missouri border.

To make this all happen Frank has to undo decades of KCATA neglecting its role to manage and oversee transportation and development for the entire two-state, seven-county region. Listen to this conversation with Paul Comfort including a conversation on TOD while riding the MAX BRT line through the city.

Next week we stay in KC and learn about the streetcar system and how it's creating connections and economic opportunity in the city--including the Streetcar Cafe born on the streetcar line thanks to bringing people to the area.

If you have a question or comment, email us at info@transitunplugged.com.

Transit Unplugged is brought to you by Modaxo and these fine folks:

  • Paul Comfort, host and producer
  • Julie Gates, executive producer
  • Tris Hussey, editor and writer
  • Tatyana Mechkarova, social media

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00:00 Frank White, III and KCATA

00:57 Inside the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority

01:44 Frank White III: From Marketing Director to CEO

02:56 Revolutionizing Public Transit in Kansas City

05:14 Navigating Financial Challenges and Fare-Free Transit

08:47 Empowering the Team and Defending Transit's Value

12:48 Exploring Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) in Kansas City

15:34 The Future of Transit: BRT Lines and Beyond

20:56 Wrap up with Paul Comfort

21:45 Coming up next week on Transit Unplugged

Transcripts

Paul Comfort:

This is Transit Unplugged.

Paul Comfort:

I'm Paul Comfort, and on today's episode, it's a special on scene

Paul Comfort:

edition, where we head again out to the location of a transit

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authority and talk to their leaders.

Paul Comfort:

On this one, I head to Kansas City, Missouri, and speak with Frank White III.

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Frank is president and CEO of the Kansas City Area

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Transportation Authority or KCATA.

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I met him at his headquarters in Kansas City and we were able to talk to his staff

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and I interviewed him actually in front of his senior team, talk to him about

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the agency, its history, his background.

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Then we went outside and got on board their bus rapid transit line.

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or the BRT MAX line, where he tells me more about the service.

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You'll hear the bus in the background, and it's just one of those great

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opportunities to experience firsthand in person what's happening at a major

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transit system here in the United States.

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Frank is considered a leader in the industry, and you'll know

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why when you hear him on this episode of Transit Unplugged.

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Now let's join him in front of his staff as we laugh and

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joke to get the thing started.

Paul Comfort:

. Hi, this is Paul Comfort.

Paul Comfort:

I am live at the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority's main conference

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room with all of Frank White's staff.

Paul Comfort:

Great to be here with you all today.

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So Frank and I just had an opportunity to share some of the hot transit

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trends happening in the industry.

Paul Comfort:

And actually, I wanted to talk to Frank about what are the

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hot trends happening here.

Paul Comfort:

So Frank, thanks for having us in.

Paul Comfort:

Thanks for coming, Paul.

Paul Comfort:

Yeah.

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We're also filming an episode of our TV show while we're here and

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last night, Frank took me out for some great jazz music here

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in Kansas City at the Blue Room.

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Yes, we

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Frank White III: did.

Paul Comfort:

That was great.

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Great music.

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Great cocktails.

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Yeah, it was great.

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And your Chief of Staff's, husband played piano up there.

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It was amazing.

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Frank White III: Terry just walked in right there.

Paul Comfort:

Yeah,

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Terry.

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Charles, he was great, man.

Paul Comfort:

That was awesome.

Paul Comfort:

So, Frank, tell us a little bit about yourself and your agency.

Paul Comfort:

Frank White III: I have been here eight years at the KCATA.

Paul Comfort:

I came in as the director of marketing is what brought me here, did that for

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a couple of years, won a few awards, and then I got demoted actually.

Paul Comfort:

That's what happens, right?

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Yeah, got demoted, even though it was said it was a promotion, but I didn't care

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because I was still getting paid the same.

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And so it made no difference to me, but, I got put into what we call

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business outreach, so to speak.

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really trying to go put us In space, we hadn't been before.

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we're more in the private sector.

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really did a lot of time with the chambers, rotaries,

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different things like that.

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a lot of, it was government relations, but I didn't really call

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it government relations at that time.

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did that for a year.

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really got some headway with like in Jeff City, our state capital here.

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really building those relationships and different audiences related to my

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workforce development, then after that got put over to, transit development.

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It was, we were a task, myself and Brian Starner.

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where TASCO built actually a separate company to focus on TOD,

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RideKC Development Corporation.

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We did that for four years.

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and then shortly after that, the board decided to make a change in leadership.

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I was appointed the interim CEO on August 8th, 2022.

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And then in January of 2023, I was appointed the permanent CEO at that time.

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And, what are some of the most important projects you're

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working on right now here at KCATA?

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Frank White III: you know, the biggest thing is, you know,

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I'm a big Tony Robbins guy.

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And he always says, be brilliant at the basics.

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And so, my view when I first got in was service delivery.

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that was something, end of the day, we're paid to move people.

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And where we position from operators to resources to staff to vehicle equipment

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to really fulfill that mission first.

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Because if you take care of that piece first.

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You can do every one after that, but if you don't, it's like an upside down tree.

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There's no stability, there's no roots to that.

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So, that was the first piece.

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The second piece was the financial piece.

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You know, again, we got public money, so, there's a higher fiduciary

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standard that we've got to adhere to.

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And so, if you're going to ask for more stuff, you've

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got to earn the right to ask.

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so that was a really big push.

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And I think as a staff, these guys did a great job.

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We're above pre pandemic ridership.

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We've been able to, we'll be able to get operators in there.

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And so you've seen our service delivery, exceed the pre pandemic averages.

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And so I think on that piece, we've done that job.

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we cover all those things like that, so now we're like, okay,

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how can we do more things?

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so our biggest piece now is how to grow our agencies.

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We're a bi state agency, seven counties, two states, but how do we grow it?

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unfortunately, I would say the ATA was brilliantly designed

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in 1966, but poorly executed.

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And that we weren't always more than a bus company, but for whatever reason, we

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were content to be a bus company instead of being a transportation authority.

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And so what we tried to do in the last year and a half is really say, how do

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we become, I think Tyler calls it, that regional chamber of transportation, like

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regional chamber of commerce, but on the transit side, where we can kind of, you

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know, facilitate, convene, really be that leader in transportation in our region.

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so that's really kind of the big picture, but as far as the big

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projects, we got the route restoration project we're trying to work on.

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really trying to figure out how do we create our own funding, right?

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that is the big, or I say independent funding, as independent as you can be.

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and really try to focus on while we do the bus is that we are a transportation

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authority, the regional planning piece, where we're basically the

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go to for transit in this region.

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and ideally, I don't know if it's possible, but really become truly

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independent from all the foolishness.

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It never goes away, but how can I've made sure that how we manage our business in a

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way that, that it's on us and people have to kind of bend to our will, so to speak.

Paul Comfort:

That's good.

Paul Comfort:

Interesting.

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So what are your, we're in, the spring of 2024.

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What are your ridership and revenue trends like right now?

Paul Comfort:

Frank White III: Well, ridership wise, we're 100, 105 percent Tyler, over 2019.

Paul Comfort:

Awesome, Frank.

Paul Comfort:

Yeah.

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revenue trends is interesting because we don't quit on revenue.

Paul Comfort:

Right.

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You don't have fares.

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Right.

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So, what's

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that about?

Paul Comfort:

No, just

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kidding.

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Frank White III: Oh, we can go there if you want to.

Paul Comfort:

I have no problem with that.

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I mean, I mean, it's again, you talk revenues.

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You know, all we have is a farebox, which we don't have anymore, so this

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is kind of our challenge, is because we don't have control on funding, those

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relationships matter with your elected officials, your political officials.

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let's say, okay, what's the value?

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What do we bring?

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Why would you want to partner with us?

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to that end, the revenue trends aren't good because we

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don't show the revenue, right?

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we talk about the fiscal cliff.

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And at the time when it would happen, a lot of agencies Well,

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you all were one of the first in the country, but then a lot of agencies

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went fare free over the pandemic.

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but now I think fiscal realities are starting to settle in as all these

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federal dollars, billions of dollars, unprecedented, were dumped into the

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transit industry over three tranches of funding, starting with the CARES Act and

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then, the CRRSA Act and then the ARPA Act.

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But most agencies in this year 2024 fiscal year 25, that

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money's going to come to an end.

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And in a sense, they've been subsidizing transit across

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the country at a higher level.

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I've done it in Canada too, by the way, Frank, they put in money as long

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as the provinces, which are like their states, we're also putting money in,

Paul Comfort:

but that's all going away now, isn't it?

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Frank White III: Yeah.

Paul Comfort:

I mean, it just goes back to, you know, Tyler mentioned earlier in your

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presentation, my background is not public.

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It's private.

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I was a sales guy on the business.

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and so the numbers have to number out, right?

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And I'm sitting there going from the sideline going, this is bad business.

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Because this isn't sustainable.

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How do you make this work?

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And if we were going to go down that path, the conversation should

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have been had with the jurisdiction.

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Like, is this going to end one day?

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Just when, and manage it better.

Paul Comfort:

We did not, I call it COVID crack.

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Money is what it was.

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Makes you lose your mind.

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You got addicted to it.

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and so now we're seeing that, that come to an end.

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And you're telling, just gotta tell the truth.

Paul Comfort:

You don't like it doesn't mean I'm wrong.

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And so we're seeing with all our, the Jersey United's here, but nationally

Paul Comfort:

people are really starting to push back going, how you gonna close your gap?

Paul Comfort:

I'm like, it ain't my gap.

Paul Comfort:

It's yours.

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' cause I don't create my revenue.

Paul Comfort:

That's your problem to solve, not mine.

Paul Comfort:

And quite frankly, I could care less.

Paul Comfort:

You don't wanna pay for it.

Paul Comfort:

Okay, fine.

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But don't put that on us.

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And I think in transit in general, we default to be in the

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whipping post for some reason.

Paul Comfort:

I don't understand why.

Paul Comfort:

You know, we go with hat in hand and say, please don't hurt me.

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And I'm like, we bring a value that if we weren't here, you couldn't get done.

Paul Comfort:

You needed to get done and you might wanna show us some respect to what we do.

Paul Comfort:

And that's kind of my approach.

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You know, you call it speaking freely, but I'm going to defend us

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and what we do because I know who works every day and how hard we work.

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I know it's a tough industry to work in.

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You don't get to diminish it because you don't understand.

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And so that's the approach I take on it because I know more than you know, most

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of the time in these meetings, I'm going to let you know I know more than you.

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And I know what you do and what I do because I got to know what you

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do to know how to serve you better.

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So, now that might irritate people, but I really don't care, because

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again, I'm responsible for this agency, and everybody in this room,

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and I'm not going to sit here and let them down by not being ready to be

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prepared to defend what we have to do.

Paul Comfort:

and we've had plenty of meetings with city council this week

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and explained what's going on.

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And I said the same thing you said.

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Christ didn't, cost didn't go up, your subsidy's going away.

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And we told you it was going away.

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And you kept saying, well, how are you going to close it?

Paul Comfort:

Not my problem.

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It's yours.

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And we're going to make sure if they choose not to do it, we're

Paul Comfort:

going to let the world know that they chose not to do it, not on

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us.

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in the vision you have of, really turning this agency, turning on the

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power, so to speak, of the authority.

Paul Comfort:

Yes.

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that's your big vision.

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What's the biggest challenge, and how can your staff and your team

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help you with those challenges?

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Frank White III: There's multiple challenges, but the biggest one is for 51

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years, we didn't act like the authority.

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So, when people see you as one way and you tried to come out of that box,

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they want to keep you in that box.

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They want to diminish you to keep you back into being this box right?

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And stay in your lane, so to speak.

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And we're saying no, because we didn't step into that space, other people did.

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And they have a message not wanting us to be in that space.

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There's other regional entities, there's other organizations.

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That are doing what we do because we let them do it and we're trying to

Paul Comfort:

say, no, we're going to do that now and rightfully so, they're going to push back.

Paul Comfort:

I expect them to push back, but, you know, as they say, to make an

Paul Comfort:

omlette you gotta break an egg, right?

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So, I think we were designed to play in that space and so the big challenge

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is one, that perception, right?

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two is making sure you're in the right rooms when those discussions

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are being had because I also see a lot of people talk about us without us.

Paul Comfort:

And transit, transit, transit, and like we got the World Cup coming,

Paul Comfort:

and they said transit was a problem, and no one ever talked to the ATA.

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So they got a whole World Cup game with no one ever talking to the ATA.

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We had to force our way into the World Cup transit discussion.

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And literally, I was on an interview on the radio, and I said, well they

Paul Comfort:

ain't talking to us, we're going to do it ourselves, and then my phone rings,

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and Austin's like, you can't say that, and I said, well I already did, what

Paul Comfort:

are we going to do about it, you know?

Paul Comfort:

but we had to be at the table to have that discussion, because we've got the

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tools, right, we're the federal designee for transit funding in this region,

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we've we've got all these things, we just have never shown the leadership

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nor desire to put the work in because our board in 2013, when they went to the

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whole ride KC brand, that was the goal, to be a regional entity, to create your

Paul Comfort:

own regional funding, to be the authority in this thing, and we never did it.

Paul Comfort:

I don't know why I wasn't here when it happened, but we didn't do it, and

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now this team here is trying to, is not trying, we are doing it actually.

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We've got it, we're in a position now where relationship wise, opportunity

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wise, we're in the best we ever could have been to go make that case for the

Paul Comfort:

regional transit, regional authority.

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there's still some humps, but you know, that's okay.

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All right.

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Last question.

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We'll end on a positive.

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What's one of the best things or coolest things happening right now at your agency?

Paul Comfort:

Frank White III: Oh, man.

Paul Comfort:

Well, you're here.

Paul Comfort:

no, I mean, you know, we're getting it done.

Paul Comfort:

I mean, you know, it's not easy.

Paul Comfort:

I know it's not easy.

Paul Comfort:

You know, I looked at it, Brian Beck, right, and I'm amazed he's still

Paul Comfort:

awake because with the ransomware attack, you know, he and his staff,

Paul Comfort:

I mean, they did yeoman's work.

Paul Comfort:

Congratulations, by the way, getting out of that.

Paul Comfort:

Frank White III: Yeah.

Paul Comfort:

No, I mean, so you look at that and you look at, you see all these people,

Paul Comfort:

you know, Marla, what she's doing in facilities, Don over in transportation.

Paul Comfort:

June's probably got the hardest job in, in HR.

Paul Comfort:

Terry's Chief of Staff, corralling me, you know, that, that's a challenge.

Paul Comfort:

I probably wear Cindy out, just all the questions about marketing and

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stuff, and I just be bruised to death.

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And so, you know, it's just watching people, I like watching

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people do what they do best, right?

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My thing is to be very decentralized and say, you go do you, what do you

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need from me, and I'll go do my thing.

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Cause if I gotta do your job, they're what I need you for.

Paul Comfort:

so, we're doing a great job, like I said, with Todd's, the route stuff,

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Chuck's out there pushing hard to get these buses out, Richard over

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here on the microtransit stuff.

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And I did not forget you, Michael Riley, because, you know, in the TOD piece,

Paul Comfort:

and Bryce is our emerging leader, he's our secret weapon, and so he's also

Paul Comfort:

our driver today, that's kind of cool.

Paul Comfort:

But, so we got these great people, and Janet, Keesbee folks, so everybody

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So your team is probably the

Paul Comfort:

Frank White III: best thing happening, right?

Paul Comfort:

It's

Paul Comfort:

the best thing, we talked about this in Tulsa, I said, leadership's not about you.

Paul Comfort:

It's about your people and when we, when I came in, the morale was poor, we'd

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all be kind of PTSD, so to speak, and the biggest thing is getting people to

Paul Comfort:

realize that we are good at what we do.

Paul Comfort:

We're not bad at what we do.

Paul Comfort:

Absolutely, you guys are leaders.

Paul Comfort:

I mean, we've got award winning people in this room, national award winning

Paul Comfort:

people in this room, and they weren't given a lane to go do what they do.

Paul Comfort:

and so the metrics, by all accounts, we're better than we were a year and a half

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ago, and I think the best is yet to come.

Paul Comfort:

Excellent.

Paul Comfort:

Thank you, Frank.

Paul Comfort:

Frank, tell us about your agency, the Kansas City

Paul Comfort:

Area Transportation Authority.

Paul Comfort:

Frank White III: Yeah, the KCATA is a bi state authority created

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in 1966 with the Act of Congress.

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We cover seven counties and two states.

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we can cross jurisdictions, so that allows us to kind of be a

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regional transportation program.

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we also manage the region under the RideKC brand back here.

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So all of our buses throughout the seven counties all say

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RideKC for a seamless system.

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We've got 620 employees in our agency.

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we have local bus service, bus rapid transit, we have three max lines.

Paul Comfort:

We also have paratransit, we have microtransit, we also have the

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streetcar that runs the RideKC brand.

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While we don't necessarily run the streetcar, we work very

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closely with Tom and his team on a host of different issues.

Paul Comfort:

And we have like a flex service as well in our system as well.

Paul Comfort:

So that's pretty much our agency in a broad nutshell.

Paul Comfort:

We also have a broad range of economic development tools that we do use.

Paul Comfort:

We do a lot of TOD work.

Paul Comfort:

Oh, tell me a little about that.

Paul Comfort:

Yeah, and part of the compact, it also had us, we can do, conduit

Paul Comfort:

bond financing, sales tax exemptions on construction materials.

Paul Comfort:

We also eminent domain capacity and land management usage.

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So if you understand, you know, transit well enough, really

Paul Comfort:

it's about land management.

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And so the other thing is KC, Kansas City, Missouri, the city

Paul Comfort:

is kind of built for transit.

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We had over 300 different transit agencies before.

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It's 1950 before the highway acts came out.

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And so we got to see this really built for the density for transit.

Paul Comfort:

So we try to take our transit corridors, our max lines, and really tried to

Paul Comfort:

do land assemblage and build housing, doing development work, contract

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work, which you'll see later today, as well as it creates revenue for

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us as well, but also brings that density and brings those riders.

Paul Comfort:

So we're kind of gaming the riding system to get those folks that be on our system.

Paul Comfort:

We found that in Kansas City, Missouri proper, 42 percent of people's

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incomes on housing and transit.

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So we can kind of whack that transit piece in half.

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We can really do a good thing.

Paul Comfort:

We have our four pillars of access, Paul, which is access to

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education, employment, health care, and housing with Transit Fulcrum.

Paul Comfort:

TOD satisfies all those different things.

Paul Comfort:

And also, as I mentioned earlier when I was talking to you, it allows us to

Paul Comfort:

try to get that sort of independence as an agency to kind of control our

Paul Comfort:

own fate and our own destiny as well.

Paul Comfort:

You were one of the first agencies in America to kind of

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merge paratransit and microtransit in your RideKC Freedom program.

Paul Comfort:

Tell us a little about that and how that's going

Paul Comfort:

Frank White III: now.

Paul Comfort:

it's funny.

Paul Comfort:

It started with a program called Bridge.

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you remember Bridge about 2016.

Paul Comfort:

that was like our first foray into microtransit and Tyler Means was

Paul Comfort:

really kind of the guy on that.

Paul Comfort:

we kind of learned some stuff from Bridge and we put RideKC Freedom and paratransit

Paul Comfort:

together once it reduces costs.

Paul Comfort:

But it also is a more efficient way to help people have a better experience

Paul Comfort:

from the ADA side and paratransit side, as well as just the overall,

Paul Comfort:

what I call the customer experience.

Paul Comfort:

And so it's been very, very successful for us.

Paul Comfort:

we have Iris now as well, that's non, paratransit ADA focused, but Roxy

Paul Comfort:

Ridge is something that's always going to make us unique, and we're probably

Paul Comfort:

planning to keep that for a long time.

Paul Comfort:

Where are you taking the agency, Frank?

Paul Comfort:

What is next for you?

Paul Comfort:

Frank White III: what I'm trying to do is really look at transit differently.

Paul Comfort:

I think, I said this seven years ago at an APTA marketing conference,

Paul Comfort:

I felt that public transit would be saved by non transit people.

Paul Comfort:

Alright Frank, we're on your max BRT line, Bus Rapid Transit in

Paul Comfort:

downtown Kansas City . Tell us about BRT.

Paul Comfort:

Frank White III: BRT, for those who don't know, it's Bus Rapid Transit.

Paul Comfort:

Sometimes we kind of walk in our transit talk.

Paul Comfort:

basically what makes BRT unique is, it's basically what I

Paul Comfort:

call reliability on wheels.

Paul Comfort:

Predictable scheduling between 10 to 15 minute headways.

Paul Comfort:

because of our premium service, Wi Fi, all those different things, different colors.

Paul Comfort:

we've got three MAX lines here in KC.

Paul Comfort:

We are right now in the Troost MAX.

Paul Comfort:

We also have the Main Street MAX, which is our first MAX line, brought here in 2005.

Paul Comfort:

This line started in 2011, and the Prospect MAX started in 2019.

Paul Comfort:

So, the cool thing about our MAX lines is, as you can see here, with

Paul Comfort:

that deep federal investment, it's also been catalytic for economic

Paul Comfort:

development on our corridors.

Paul Comfort:

Yeah, so, Bus Rapid Transit is almost like a train, in that it

Paul Comfort:

comes, like how often do your buses come?

Paul Comfort:

Tell me about that.

Paul Comfort:

Frank White III: Yeah, so the schedule is about every 15 minutes.

Paul Comfort:

Okay.

Paul Comfort:

So you don't need to have an app, a schedule.

Paul Comfort:

We have actually better stops, you can see here, these are nicer stops.

Paul Comfort:

All this stuff here is new development that's being redone

Paul Comfort:

because of this investment.

Paul Comfort:

Really?

Paul Comfort:

All right.

Paul Comfort:

Thanks, Mike.

Paul Comfort:

Thanks, Mike.

Paul Comfort:

Thanks, Mike.

Paul Comfort:

Thanks, Mike.

Paul Comfort:

Thanks, Mike.

Paul Comfort:

So it's transit oriented development in a sense, isn't it?

Paul Comfort:

Yes it

Paul Comfort:

Frank White III: is.

Paul Comfort:

Because of that predictability, people know, like I said to you before,

Paul Comfort:

good bus routes don't get moved.

Paul Comfort:

So people sometimes say rail's better because it's stable, but a

Paul Comfort:

good bus route like this one that's north south that goes 10 miles.

Paul Comfort:

Okay.

Paul Comfort:

It's just all it's going to spur more development as you'll see as we go

Paul Comfort:

further down the stuff that's going up.

Paul Comfort:

We'll hit probably 35th street here, Armour Boulevard.

Paul Comfort:

You're going to see an amazing spur of growth because of this max line.

Paul Comfort:

And so your BRT lines are in a sense your trunk lines of the system.

Paul Comfort:

Frank White III: Yeah, they're our top three routes.

Paul Comfort:

Okay.

Paul Comfort:

Our BRT lines.

Paul Comfort:

And then do your other bus routes kind of tie into it?

Paul Comfort:

Frank White III: Yes, they feed into it.

Paul Comfort:

we're looking now to want to take some of these max lines, create

Paul Comfort:

new BRT lines going east west.

Paul Comfort:

We're solid north south, we want to start bringing that east west piece.

Paul Comfort:

we look at East of Troost here, that's traditionally been historically

Paul Comfort:

African American neighborhoods.

Paul Comfort:

Troost is kind of the dividing line historically.

Paul Comfort:

Yes.

Paul Comfort:

so we wanted to use the BRT and transit to kind of break down that, that wall, right?

Paul Comfort:

That access piece going to Central KC and then to the west side.

Paul Comfort:

So it's also a great equalizer.

Paul Comfort:

Prior to being CEO here, you were the head of TOD, Transit

Paul Comfort:

Road Development for the agency.

Paul Comfort:

Tell us about your TOD a little bit and the one we went out to.

Paul Comfort:

Frank White III: our compact powers gives a lot of stuff

Paul Comfort:

you can opt for development.

Paul Comfort:

We can do land assemblage, sales tax exemptions, in the domain,

Paul Comfort:

capacity and land management use.

Paul Comfort:

And so, what we try to do is say, well, we might, This would be the actual developer.

Paul Comfort:

We can be catalysts for developments.

Paul Comfort:

We can stabilize places where capital would normally not flow because we're

Paul Comfort:

crossing federal, there's a certain permanence that we get involved.

Paul Comfort:

It's kind of de risking development for developers.

Paul Comfort:

so we were tasked, myself and a guy named Brian Stratton, to create this company.

Paul Comfort:

separate from the KCATA, which we did, and we've probably done seven projects

Paul Comfort:

over half a billion dollars worth of projects, you can see some of these

Paul Comfort:

bookings here, are all a part of stuff that we worked on these projects here

Paul Comfort:

there's a local hospital on Main Street.

Paul Comfort:

Lutheran Hospital have been closed for 25 years.

Paul Comfort:

No one would touch it.

Paul Comfort:

Just the project is too risky.

Paul Comfort:

We partnered with a company called Northpoint and said, Okay, use the

Paul Comfort:

COMTO bond process through us and we can give you certain benefits, guarantees,

Paul Comfort:

federal projects, federal dollars that would de risk it for themselves

Paul Comfort:

instead of using all private money.

Paul Comfort:

But by doing so, we created a new facility that has mixed income housing

Paul Comfort:

tied into the local junior college.

Paul Comfort:

Also for the people I've been there that hadn't made been whole, they're

Paul Comfort:

not been made on the condominium.

Paul Comfort:

So it's a project that Brent Miles would tell you wouldn't have

Paul Comfort:

touched if you had to do all on.

Paul Comfort:

But 'cause we got involved, we were able to share the risk.

Paul Comfort:

It's really a perfect P three.

Paul Comfort:

and so the application out, we'll see if it qualifies.

Paul Comfort:

And everything is based on is it transit focus?

Paul Comfort:

Okay, is transit gonna be viable?

Paul Comfort:

This is gonna be on the street car line, and the better transit or elements it has.

Paul Comfort:

The lower their fees are.

Paul Comfort:

So they get a benefit for doing more TOD.

Paul Comfort:

Um, so they do an application fee and then we, our committee takes a

Paul Comfort:

look at it and then it goes to our board for what we call a first read.

Paul Comfort:

and if the board approves it, then we do about a second read

Paul Comfort:

and that bond gets issued.

Paul Comfort:

So it all has certain things that are all geared towards transit.

Paul Comfort:

And this right here, this is our building too.

Paul Comfort:

This was our daycare center, Metro daycare center.

Paul Comfort:

it was.

Paul Comfort:

It was a, it we're looking to the last 10, actually, unfortunately.

Paul Comfort:

Had to leave because they couldn't get staff, to staff.

Paul Comfort:

The daycares that are, well, right now, we got it on RFI out for it right now.

Paul Comfort:

Okay.

Paul Comfort:

it's a great facility.

Paul Comfort:

Yeah.

Paul Comfort:

Built Federal dollars and, that's Mike Riley's problem now to

Paul Comfort:

figure out what to do with it.

Paul Comfort:

so that's how our TLD works.

Paul Comfort:

sometimes we may own the land, so own the land.

Paul Comfort:

I like us to get more, we own the land ourselves and do more joint ventures.

Paul Comfort:

one.

Paul Comfort:

It gives us a way to create revenue for ourselves.

Paul Comfort:

Yes.

Paul Comfort:

So that's the biggest issue, creating that independent stream of revenue

Paul Comfort:

that most agencies desperately need.

Paul Comfort:

But also we're creating density in the city that's built for density.

Paul Comfort:

which gives us more riders.

Paul Comfort:

Right.

Paul Comfort:

So at the end of the day, it's really like, we want more riders.

Paul Comfort:

And so how do we do it?

Paul Comfort:

We bring more density, we get more housing.

Paul Comfort:

and the fact is, in Kansas City, Missouri, where we are right now,

Paul Comfort:

over 42 percent of people's income goes in housing and transit.

Paul Comfort:

So if we can find a way to reduce that transit cost, bring more money back

Paul Comfort:

into their household, it also makes the economy spur just on that level as well.

Paul Comfort:

And our interview continued.

Paul Comfort:

We videotaped a lot of this interview as well as many more things with his

Paul Comfort:

team and some of the city culture and, discussion with his father, Frank White

Paul Comfort:

Jr., the famous Kansas City Royals baseball player, Golden Glove winner.

Paul Comfort:

we, also, Got to share some great barbecue and jazz music.

Paul Comfort:

You'll get to see it all on our April episode of Transit Unplugged TV, that

Paul Comfort:

this podcast and next week's podcast with Tom Garand, who is the executive

Paul Comfort:

director of the Kansas City Streetcar.

Paul Comfort:

we gave an interview with him as well, and we show you some of the streetcar

Paul Comfort:

and the great union station there as well in this compilation series of a

Paul Comfort:

couple podcasts matched with our TV show.

Paul Comfort:

Know you'll enjoy this great conversation with great leaders

Paul Comfort:

in the Kansas City area.

Tris Hussey:

Thanks for listening to this week's episode of Transit Unplugged

Tris Hussey:

with our special guest, Frank White, the third, telling us all about KC ATA.

Tris Hussey:

Now, as Paul said, in his closing, we stay in Kansas City for next week.

Tris Hussey:

With Tom Gerend of KCStreetcar.

Tris Hussey:

You're going to listen to Paul, go through historic Union Station.

Tris Hussey:

And then take a ride on the street car to a cafe that wouldn't be there.

Tris Hussey:

If it wasn't for the street car.

Tris Hussey:

And this month, you get to see it all on Transit Unplugged TV on YouTube.

Tris Hussey:

Make sure you check it out and subscribe.

Tris Hussey:

So you don't miss when the episode drops.

Tris Hussey:

Hey, did you know@transitunplugged.com?

Tris Hussey:

It's where you can find everything you need to get in touch with us.

Tris Hussey:

Follow us on social media or subscribe to the newsletter.

Tris Hussey:

Just head on over and click the buttons.

Tris Hussey:

And you'll be connected.

Tris Hussey:

Transit Unplugged is brought to you by Modaxo.

Tris Hussey:

At Modaxo, we're passionate about moving the world's people.

Tris Hussey:

And that Transit Unplugged.

Tris Hussey:

We're passionate about telling those stories.

Tris Hussey:

So until next week ride safe and ride happy.

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