Proposed bus route changes should make it more convenient to get around downtown while helping the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority provide better on-time service to riders.
Bus officials should focus on meeting those two goals over the next few years as part of a much-needed effort to provide better-connected public transportation in the region.
ATA officials last week unveiled some sensible-sounding upgrades for prime downtown transit corridors.
The ATA wants to operate more buses along selected roads, especially Grand Boulevard and 11th and 12th streets.
Riders should find it easier to know where to catch buses and where to connect to other systems, such as The Jo, which serves Johnson County.
Officials hope to place fewer but more useful bus stops along downtown streets. Passengers might have to walk an extra block or two, but the ATA could make that effort worthwhile by reducing delays and providing better on-time service. The change would help traffic move more smoothly because cars and trucks would not have to stop behind buses so frequently.
Also, the downtown bus changes could push more people to use the new two-mile downtown streetcar line that is expected to open in early 2016. It will run mostly along Main Street from the River Market to Union Station. It will be free to ride and will help residents, office workers and tourists more easily move around in the heart of the city.
The ATA’s plan eventually calls for selling land that now is home to a congested bus transportation hub at 10th and Main streets. That’s a reasonable option, especially if it can help the agency reap funds required to put part of this plan in place.
As downtown’s population continues to grow, especially with an explosion in rental units, more people will depend on public transportation.
The ATA needs to put in place a well-designed plan that will provide future passengers with efficient service.