Johnson County Commissioners should approve funding for a new RideKC service from downtown Kansas City and Kansas City, Kan., to employment hubs in Olathe, Edgerton and Gardner.
The commission is expected to consider the proposal Thursday. If approved, it would provide $300,000 for bus service to the southwest part of the county along Interstate 35.
The service would connect people from the urban core with employers such as BNSF Railway’s intermodal facility, Logistics Park Kansas City, New Century AirCenter and Amazon.
Routes would be timed to meet most jobs shifts, including on Saturdays.
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The service is part of the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority’s Smart Move 3.0 plan, which promotes efficient, high-volume transit service connected to mobility hubs.
Riders could move easily from a bus to other types of transportation, such as a streetcar, bikes and ride-sharing services.
The first year would be used to build ridership to about 200 people, a realistic goal. And similar service could be extended to Independence and north of the Missouri River in coming years.
The approach is innovative and collaborative, as it should be.
KCATA is leading the charge with help from Johnson County Transit, Mid-America Regional Council, and the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.
Other entities, including the Full Employment Council and Johnson County-based Quality Placement Services, have played a role.
According to the Gardner-Edgerton Chamber of Commerce, the private sector supports the measure as well, which is encouraging.
As Johnson County Commissioner Michael Ashcraft pointed out, companies must promote the program with employees and offer bus passes and other incentives to make sure the service prevails.
KCATA president and CEO Robbie Makinen said this could be the start of a comprehensive transit system that the region lacks.
Expanded service in that area has been on the radar for years, but this is the first time corporate America has been at the center of the discussion, Makinen said. He added input from residents and workers has been invaluable as well.
Makinen is right when he says transit is the one thing that touches everyone. And it doesn’t work unless the private sector is an active participant.
Public transit in Kansas City has always been an afterthought. Transportation officials finally are trying to make it a priority. It’s about time.