Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

Pull into the Arrowhead Stadium parking lot for a Kansas City Chiefs game and what do you notice? Besides the plume of smoke from the barbeque grills, you can’t miss the sea of red. Not only do fans wear the colors, more tailgate vehicles display them.

And, in recent years, more old school buses are converted into party buses. 

As time ran short before the Chiefs pre-season opener against Seattle on Aug. 13, Dallas Kidd and his co-workers used 30 cans of spray paint to transform a small, old yellow school bus into a party vehicle for Chiefs games.

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

After months (some would say decades) of anticipation, Kansas City will once again have a downtown streetcar line. It opens Friday. You may have heard the buzz and the hype. You might have read about the delays and labor disputes. But now, really, all you care about is this question: when can I ride it? 

What would you do with $50 million?

Kansas City Chief Innovation officer Bob Bennett would incorporate autonomous vehicles into public transportation, enable your car to connect with other vehicles, and create a “smart” Prospect bus line that’s Wi-Fi enabled and can sense what’s going on around it.

Courtesy of KCATA

Kansas Citians will soon be able to request on-demand rides to stops not on the regional bus system.

The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority announced Thursday it will launch a new shuttle service called Ride KC: Bridj in March.

“We want to be a transit authority, not just a bus company,” says KCATA President and CEO Robbie Makinen. “What that means is offering options and connections. Connect the dots.”

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

Every Tuesday and Friday, about a dozen seniors from the Santa Fe Towers Apartments in Overland Park eagerly drop quarters into the fare box of the 812 Flex route bus. 

Many of the passengers are old hats when it comes to public transit. They've got their fare ready well before they get on the bus, and some pull along wheeled baskets to tote around the groceries they'll get from Hy-Vee.

One of the riders on a recent Tuesday was a woman named Carolyn, who asked that only her first name be used. She's used buses to get around Johnson County for the past 7 years.

Cody Newill / KCUR

Around two dozen community members joined Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) officials and Kansas City Councilman Jermaine Reed on a tour of Prospect Avenue Wednesday to give feedback on the proposed Prospect MAX bus line.

The $54 million project is currently in its early development phase while the Federal Transit Administration mulls over the ATA's application for federal funds. The ATA asked for $30 million, and the city just passed a resolution pledging matching funds of $12.4 million. 

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

The Federal Transit Administration has given first-round approval to a big overhaul of Kansas City's Prospect Avenue bus line.

The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority has been working for several years to turn the route into a MAX line like the Main Street and Troost Avenue routes.

The Transit Administration's approval means the project can now move into its development phase, and the KCATA can start trying to secure federal funding to help offset the estimated $54 million price tag.

Johnson County

University of Missouri-Kansas City students with a valid student ID can now ride Johnson County's bus lines for free.

The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority expanded the service as part of its new focus on regional transportation since former Kansas City, Kansas Mayor Joe Reardon was hired as president.

Suzanne Hogan, KCUR

The Missouri River plays an important part in Kansas City's history. But for many people today, it's an obstacle that divides our city. We look into how to cross the river if you don't have a car, and discuss what "The Northland" means.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Johnson County's "JO" bus line is now managed by the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, effective Feb. 1. The consolidation effort has been in the works for more than a year.

Jameson Auten of the KCATA says that the merger isn't a total takeover, but just a managerial shift. 

"Johnson County remains in control of policy decisions, but the KCATA is able to provide recommendations on how to better coordinate services," Auten says. "This arrangement does provide cost savings to Johnson County."

Stephen Rees/Flickr-CC

Public transit is often touted as a better alternative to personal vehicles, but safety concerns have recently plagued the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority buses, after a stabbing and a shooting left a bus driver and passengers seriously injured.

In the second part of Wednesday's Up to Date, we talked with Cynthia Baker, KCATA's director of marketing, about the recent incidents and what the transit authority plans to do to keep buses safe.

Kansas City Buses Will Say Goodbye To Diesel

Apr 26, 2013

The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority , or ATA, is phasing itself out of the diesel bus business.

KC Bus Service Struggles Financially

Mar 7, 2013
Stephen Rees / flickr

Representatives of the passengers and management of Kansas City's bus service told the city finance committee yesterday that the system is struggling and dipping into its reserves to stay running.

Area Transportation Authority general manager Mark Huffer said diverting transit tax money for streets and streetcars is taking its toll.