Kansas City Transportation Study

One of our FLL teams, the Rockin' Robo Rabbits, dived into the Smart Moves challenge with a focus on one of Kansas City metro's most serious challenges: urban sprawl. Kansas City covers nearly 8,000 square miles, making it the fifteenth largest city though it is only the 29th most populated American city. Griffy K., a member of the team, reported that "being so spread out:

  • Eats up green space and farms
  • Increases long commutes – Kansas Citians currently take an average of more than ten car trips a day, and spend an average of 13.3 minutes per trip.
  • Aggravates air pollution – Cities that have large land masses compared to their populations, have more days of hazardous air pollution. There were 507 deaths attributable to air pollution in Kansas City in 1989 – a death rate of 38 per 100,000 people. Considering that the population now tops 2 million and air pollution has worsened, we estimate that deaths may now exceed 760 people per year.
  • Intensifies traffic jams and aggressive driving – Kansas City is rated the ninth worst city for aggressive driving deaths – 7.1 per 100,000 people.
  • Increases the cost of gasoline, road construction and maintenance – Projected growth is expected to cost Kansas City $8.7 billion in new road construction alone – not counting additional maintenance and travel costs."

To learn more about how Kansas Citians move around town, the Robo Rabbits conducted an online survey. Over 180 households responded. The results revealed:

  • 84% of Kansas Citians commute every day
    • 13% of those drive 1 to 5 miles each way
    • 23% of those drive 6 to 10 miles each way
    • 35% of those drive 11 to 20 miles each way
    • 29% of those drive 20+ miles each way
  • Only about 28% carpool – usually just once in a while
  • 53% would carpool regularly if they knew someone with whom they could share rides
  • Only 7% use public transportation
  • Those who don’t use public transportation say it’s because:
    • There aren’t any bus stops nearby (63%)
    • There are no routes between office and home (47%)
    • Bus travel would be too slow (30%)
    • The bus runs too infrequently (25%)
  • They would be more likely to use public transportation if:
    • Buses ran more frequently (65%)
    • There were more bus stops (46%)
    • They had more information on routes/schedules (40%)
    • It was safer (23%)
  • 63% of those who commute drive during the work day, mostly short distances to:
    • Go to lunch (66%)
    • Run errands (59%)
    • Attend meetings (54%)
  • 41% would use bikes for short trips around city centers if:
    • They were readily available
    • And, it would be safe to use them

The results of this survey inspired the Robo Rabbits to develop two concrete programs – one to move people more efficiently from the suburbs to city centers, and another to help people travel around the centers more economically. To learn more about their plan, click here.