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Full Speed Ahead For KCATA As Leader Departs For Chamber Of Commerce

Laura Ziegler

Joe Reardon is leaving the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, less than a year after he took the regional bus service’s top job.

The former Kansas City, Kansas, mayor is headed to the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, where he’ll replace Jim Heeter, who is retiring.

“The Chamber of Commerce is very, very lucky,” said Robbie Makinen, chairman of the KCATA Board of Commissioners. “I would think all that does is raise the transit volume for us. The partnerships we’re going to have together are going to be even better.”

Makinen will succeed Reardon as interim president and CEO, building on what's been a big year for the bus system. In February, KCATA took over management of the JO in Johnson County and added IndeBus in Independence over the summer. KCATA was already partnering with the Unified Government.

“My passion for transit as a way for this region to continue to grow and flourish economically and by way of quality of life remains strong,” Reardon said at Wednesday’s regularly-scheduled board meeting.

The commissioners then tackled an agenda indicative of KCATA’s ambitious goals for 2016.

They approved a contract with T-Mobile to provide free public Wi-Fi on KCATA buses. They also approved an agreement to standardize bus fares across the region at $1.50 per trip.

There were then updates on two major projects, the Prospect Avenue MAX and a transit-oriented development at 3rd and Grand.

“The largest item in the capital budget you just approved is Prospect MAX,” KCATA’s Dick Jarrold said, “over the next five years.”

The commissioners authorized beginning contract negotiations with HNTB, an engineering firm.

And there was an update on the Rock Island Corridor as KCATA and Jackson County work out a purchase agreement with Union Pacific. Jackson County has created a department to work with KCATA on the project, which could be the eventual backbone of a regional transit system.

“They will be the folks who will take the first phone calls on how are we going to get the grass cut on the corridor come springtime?” KCATA’s Dennis Hays said.

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

Elle Moxley covered education for KCUR.
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