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Kansas City Bus Riders Are Both Excited And Worried About A High Tech Prospect MAX

Laura Ziegler
KCUR 89.8
The Prospect Max buses will be newer and run more frequently than the current KCATA busses.

In a week when the first concrete is being poured to extend Kansas City's MAX bus line from downtown to Prospect Avenue, the Kansas City Area Transit Authority (KCATA) met with residents to let them know when buildings might be blocked and where protected walkways will be.

At a public meeting Thursday night at 27th and Prospect, KCATA project manager Linda Clark said she also wants people to know the new MAX bus kiosks will be more than transit shelters. There will be real-time information about when buses are coming and about connecting routes.  There's a web-based portal that will allow community members to advertise events.

"If this community center were having an event, the kiosk out there on 27th and Prospect would tell you about the event. All you have to do is touch the icon," she said. 

But some customers were more interested in comprehensive bus coverage than digital amenities. 

Marcus Lewis, 41, picks up garbage for the city. He walks the last half mile or so of his commute to work and wondered why the Prospect MAX couldn't be extended from Truman Road to Independence Avenue.

Credit Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3
KCUR 89.3
Marcus Lewis would rather see a longer bus route than high tech frills at stops.

"I don't care about the WiFi and the high tech stuff," he said. "It would make a big difference if I could just ride the bus a bit farther, especially in the cold winter and hot summer."

Clark told Lewis that officials had heard this before and were considering various options. 

Clark said the MAX lines have had major economic development benefits. 

"We did Main MAX in 2006 and Troost MAX in 2011," she said. "Our hope and desire is for the 46 stations that compose Prospect MAX to transform the Prospect Corridor, clean up the corridor, bring jobs and get people feeling good about themselves and the corridor."

These aspirations are in line with those of bus rider Vicky Hawkins.

Earlier Thursday afternoon, Hawkins, 62, was waiting for the bus at 63rd and Prospect. She said it's frequently late and she's delighted the new Prospect MAX will run more frequently and, hopefully, more regularly. 

Credit Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3
KCUR 89.3
Vicki Hawkins hopes the Prospect Max will bring more amenities, like grocery stores to the area.

Hawkins said she rides the bus daily to shop for groceries, do laundry and pay her light bill. She's looking forward to whatever economic development comes to her area.

"Take away some of the liquor stores and put in some grocery stores," she says."

Brenda Thomas, a long-time community activist, was part of a recent KCATA committee to discuss how the Prospect Max could best serve residents.

She says she's pleased with what the transit authority has been doing and hopes transit officials and the city can make good on their promises.

"It's kind of like this. If you go down 75th Street going west, you get to Wornall, " she says. "There's a nice celebration of the neighborhood there, the Trolley Trail, a nice new crosswalk. The improvements are visible," she said. "There's no such thing anywhere along Prospect."

The Prospect MAX is scheduled to be finished by the end of 2019.

Laura Ziegler is a community engagement reporter and producer. You can reach her via email at lauraz@kcur.org or via twitter @laurazig.

I partner with communities to uncover the ignored or misrepresented stories by listening and letting communities help identify and shape a narrative. My work brings new voices, sounds, and an authentic sense of place to our coverage of the Kansas City region. My goal is to tell stories on the radio, online, on social media and through face to face conversations that enhance civic dialogue and provide solutions.
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