The march toward a more streamlined regional public transit system took another positive step in recent days.
The JO system that serves Johnson County residents, and connects to other Kansas City metropolitan area bus lines, now offers a $1.50 fare per local ride. That’s a reduction on some routes, and the same price as before on others.
This is all part of the excellent strategy to have a one-price-fits-all for local routes on the region’s four major bus providers. Passengers will know it costs $1.50 for a regular ride on The JO, as well as on Kansas City Area Transportation Authority buses and on those that serve Independence and Wyandotte County.
Cynthia Baker, an ATA spokesman, noted that the price cut could help The JO attract more riders by removing long-standing confusion over fares by potential passengers.
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ATA board chairman Robbie Makinen said in an interview that the reduction of the fare — plus making ride charges the same across multiple systems — can help public transit “break down the wall” between Johnson County and Kansas City.
That’s an excellent point. The lack of regional public transit has been one of the biggest barriers to getting passengers to jobs on both sides of the state line.
People who live in Johnson County, for example, have commutes that are longer and more inconvenient than they should be when they work in downtown Kansas City.
And Kansas Citians seeking jobs in Johnson County’s flourishing fast-food and retail industries have equally tough commutes at times.
Officials from all of the metropolitan area’s public transit agencies must continue working on plans that would make it easier for more passengers to quickly and conveniently cross the state line in both directions.