Kansas City Looks At Hopping On Board With 'Microtransit'

Oct 29, 2015

Credit bridj.com

Kansas City soon could be home to something called microtransit.

The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority is negotiating with Bridj, which offers a popup bus service.

Bridj is the bus version of Uber or Lyft. Customers sign up and can use an app to book a bus ride and be picked up within a five-minute walk. Unlike Uber or Lyft, you’re riding a small bus with 10 or so other people.

KCATA CEO Joe Reardon says it another way to connect people to jobs.

“It really starts to deliver mass transit in a way that’s oriented more towards what you’re requesting and less towards you having to go to a particular line or place to use the system,” says Reardon.

The company currently is in Boston and Washington, but doesn’t partner with those transit agencies. KCATA is negotiating with Bridj to do a one-year pilot project. Reardon says it would be the first public-private partnership of its kind.

The Kansas City agency also announced it will lower fares on ten Johnson County bus lines, bringing them in line with other fares in the RideKC system. Reardon says this will make it not only more affordable for passengers but easier for them, too.

“We want to make sure that we are looking at fares in a way that users aren’t having to decode what fare needs to be paid depending on what part of the city or region that they are in,” says Reardon.

KCATA also plans to offer free bus rides to passengers with disabilities starting next year.  Reardon says they’re following the lead of other cities. The agency projects the change will help cut costs on its paratransit service while giving people another option for getting where they need to go.

Maria Carter is KCUR's news director.