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A Bus On Demand? KCATA Launches Microtransit Shuttle Service

Courtesy of KCATA
Ride KC: Bridj will launch next month with 10 locally-produced Ford Transit vans.

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.”

Bridj works a lot like Uber or Lyft, but instead of summoning a car, you’re getting on a bus. You plug in your destination, and a driver will pick you up within a short three- to five-minute walk from your location. You’ll share the ride with up to ten passengers for the same $1.50 fare you’d pay to ride any KCATA bus.

“Think for just a second about folks like myself with a disability, what that might be able to help with,” says Makinen, who is blind and relies on the public transit system he heads up to get to work. “I’m excited to see how we can plan and integrate this into our paratransit ATA service.”

One of Makinen’s goals is to make KCATA more accessible for passengers with disabilities, so they aren’t calling three numbers for sometimes disjointed paratransit services. He says everyone benefits from a more robust transit system.

“You may not use public transit, but you depend on people every day that do,” says Makinen.

Makinen also hopes the Bridj program will get more millennial passengers to use public transit. He says people who are used to using rideshare services should give Bridj a try if they’re in one of the neighborhoods the microtransit buses service.

The year-long pilot will focus on the areas surrounding Hospital Hill and KU Med. KCATA will start with a fleet of 10 locally-made Ford Transit vans. The first 10 one-way rides will be free.

Elle Moxley is a reporter for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.

Elle Moxley covered education for KCUR.
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