Kansas Citians Can Ride The New MAX Bus On Prospect For Free — For Now
The Prospect Avenue MAX bus line that begins running on Monday will charge no fares for the first three months. The $56 million system built with federal grants and local matching funds features faster, more comfortable buses with wifi, and heated concrete benches at the stops.
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said making the service available at no charge is a step toward zero fare transit city-wide.
“We want to ... remove the barriers to riding the bus, making it accessible, making it frequent, making it free,” said Lucas at a celebration Sunday for the new bus line.
The city is committed to making all city buses free, Lucas said, though it has yet to identify the roughly $8 million dollars annually to compensate for fares currently being collected. Lucas said he expects to start phasing out bus fares across the city this summer.
Frequent bus rider Mikel Allah said waving free bus service would be a big help to him.
“Every day I catch the bus from here to 18th and Prospect to go to class,” said Allah, standing at a bus stop at 31st and Prospect. “I was having to pay all the time and I don't have the money all the time.”
The Prospect MAX line runs from 75th and Prospect to downtown, chiefly along Prospect Avenue and 12th Street. Transit officials hope it will spark millions of dollars in economic development along the largely impoverished corridor, mirroring investment seen along the city’s first two ‘bus rapid transit’ lines on Main Street and Troost Avenue.
Frank Morris is a national NPR correspondent and senior editor at KCUR 89.3. You can reach him on Twitter @FrankNewsman.