Northeast bus route could be shortened by KCATA

By Paul Thompson
Northeast News
April 26, 2017
KANSAS CITY, Missouri – The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) is considering changes to more than 20 bus routes – including the 11 Northeast-Westside route.
The changes, designed to maximize KCATA resources, include a tentative proposal to eliminate the first westbound and eastbound trips of the 11 Northeast-Westside route on weekday mornings. KCATA officials say that the route has low ridership at those times, which results in a costly trip for the transit organization.
“You put four people on a bus, and that costs the city of Kansas City and you as a taxpayer over $100 a ride. There are smarter ways to do this,” said KCATA CEO Robbie Makinen. “What we need to do is to be efficient, but then also find ways to break down barriers so that people have more access.”
Importantly, Makinen is simultaneously promoting a new KCATA transit service that he hopes will pick up the slack when a bus route gets reduced. It’s called RideKC Freedom; an Uber-like ride-sharing system that will primarily provide vital paratransit services to disabled citizens throughout the city. Makinen said that in instances where bus routes have been scaled back, riders will be able to use their smart phones to enter in a code that will allow them to flag a RideKC Freedom vehicle for the cost of bus fare.
“If it’s a bus route that we’re putting Freedom in, the modes going to be the same. There will be a code that you put in. It’s going to be the same,” said Makinen. “Normally you’d get off the 11 and then you’d walk four blocks to get to your house. Now, you can get off the 11 here, get your RideKC Freedom trip, and it will probably take you right to your door.”
RideKC Freedom is set to launch on May 1, 2017. Makinen says that the service, like Uber, will run 24 hours a day, even on weekends and holidays. For disabled Kansas City residents eligible under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the regular cost of the service – during hours where KCATA bus route cuts haven’t been affected – will be $3 for the first eight miles within the typical service area, and $2 for every mile thereafter. The general public can also utilize the service for $10 for the first five miles, and $2 for every mile thereafter.
Chris Hollaman is a regular Northeast-Westside rider who reached out to the Northeast News with concerns about the alterations to the route. Hollaman expressed concern that he wouldn’t be eligible under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and that he could end up waiting for long stretches for a RideKC Freedom trip.
“My question is: what number will we have to call in to have them come pick us up, and then how long would we have to wait where we are,” said Hollaman.
Hollaman and others will get a chance to address their concerns during a public meeting held by KCATA on Wednesday, April 26 to discuss the proposed route changes, and how RideKC Freedom is expected to pick up the slack. The April 26 meeting will be held from 4:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. at the Bluford Branch of the Kansas City Public Library (3050 Prospect). Area residents like Hollaman are encouraged to attend and have their voices heard.
“You’re not going to ride public transit unless it’s easy, and the barriers aren’t in the way. It’s an education, and that’s on us,” said Makinen. “That’s what we need to do, is start educating the public. That’s what we’re going to start doing now.”

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