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."
KCATA regional planner Dick Jarrold says that a unified bus system should make transit more accessible across the metro area.
"It starts with things like the fare structure, so you have a pass that can be used on all of the systems," Jarrold says. "We have one regional trip planner, so if you want to plan a trip from Independence, Mo., to Johnson County, Kan., you can do that all electronically."
Auten says that having a single transportation organization creates opportunities to get more people riding buses, particularly disabled citizens.
"One of the areas that we've been looking at regionally is how we can provide transportation to those who may not be able to use the fixed-route service," Auten says. "Some may need paratransit, and we've been looking at opportunities to partner with other organizations that are providing service for these individuals."
Johnson County also remains in control of budgeting for the JO line.