Above: KCATA President and CEO Robbie Makinen (center) is joined by KCATA Senior Vice President Dick Jarrold, Johnson County Commissioner Ron Shaffer, Mayor/CEO of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas, Mark Holland, and KCATA Board Chairman and Johnson County Commissioner Steve Klika.
Regional leaders came together Friday morning at the University of Kansas Medical Center to celebrate new transit service linking Johnson and Wyandotte counties.
A few dozen citizens, KU Med Center employees, government representatives and elected officials marked the start of the new service by tying a ribbon that symbolized the connection between the two counties.
“What this is all about is regional transportation. It’s regional access,” said Steve Klika, new chairman of the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority and a Johnson County Commissioner.
The new service extends the current 107-7th Street/Parallel route 3.5 miles south from 43rd Avenue and Booth Street near the medical center to the Mission Transit Center in Johnson County. It opens the door for Wyandotte County residents who want better bus service to reach thousands of jobs in Johnson County. And it gives more transportation options to Johnson County residents who might not want to drive to the medical center campus where parking is scarce.
Operating hourly each weekday, the expanded service will offer four roundtrips during the morning rush hour and four more in the afternoon between Mission and KU Med.
Until now, transit access to the medical center has been limited from the Kansas side of the state line. Currently, there are only two, one-way northbound trips in the morning to the medical center from Mission and two, one-way southbound trips in the afternoon.
Dick Jarrold, senior vice president of regional planning and development for the KCATA, said the new service fills an important regional gap in public transportation.
Before the new service, Jarrold explained, it could take an hour in some cases to get from KU Med Center to Johnson County. Now, it’s a 10-minute trip.
Freezing temperatures and overcast skies Friday morning underscored the importance of developing new public transportation options for the region, said Mark Holland, mayor and CEO of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County.
“This is a perfect day to have this kind of ribbon-cutting,” Holland said. “It reminds us that the people we’re serving ride the bus every single day. They don’t get to wait for the good weather to ride the bus. On the cold days, the rainy days, that’s why it’s so important we have sufficient bus service and shelters for people to use.”
Above: KCATA Chairman Steve Klika and KCK Mayor Mark Holland cheer the new Kansas connection.
The new service was a project jointly developed by Johnson County, Wyandotte County and the KCATA.
Leaders praised the new joint effort as a “textbook” example of the kind of partnerships that the KCATA wants to form as it tries to connect people to opportunity around the region.
Above: Outgoing CEO Joe Reardon stresses the role of partnerships.
“It’s all about partnerships,” said Joe Reardon, outgoing president and chief executive officer of the KCATA. “Without forging those great partnerships with the Unified Government, with Johnson County government and having a common vision of moving people to opportunity throughout Kansas City, what we’re doing today just would flat-out not happen at all.”
KCATA is looking forward to more opportunities to connect communities, and in turn connect people to the places they need to go.
Robbie Makinen, incoming president and CEO of KCATA, said “Today, we are one more step closer to realizing a truly regional transit system. And this is just the beginning."