…and finds that it’s not really a local priority. “We have other issues that are far more compelling,” says visitors bureau president Rick Hughes. And little wonder: Kansas City is a low-density, sprawling, suburban city without a solid downtown residential core. Most people would have to drive to rail stations to use the system. Kansas City compares unfavorably with many other big cities with airport rail (either currently operating or planned): San Francisco, Seattle, New York, and Washington. All of these cities are dense, and airport rail includes not only tourists and business travelers but also residents getting to and from airports. (I love the Metro connection to Washington’s Reagan National Airport.)
Even though I’ve castigated the Washington Post for trying to manipulate Washingtonians into feeling inferior for not having a rail link to Dulles Airport, I actually think rapid rail to Dulles would be a really good idea. When airport rail is pursued for tangible and real benefits — and not because “people see it as a sign of a major league city,” as KC’s transportation authority chief says — it’s a worthwhile investment.
But will it work in Kansas City? Think again.