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Happy Birthday, MAX!

Date:July 23, 2015
Happy Birthday, MAX!

This week we celebrate 10 years of MAX in Kansas City.

You probably know that KCATA has two MAX lines – the Main Street MAX Orange Line and the Troost MAX Green Line.  You also probably know that the agency is hoping to bring its third MAX line to Prospect Avenue. 

But do you know the origin of the area’s first Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line? After voters rejected a light rail proposal in 2001, the KCATA regrouped. We moved forward with a new type of transit that could bridge the gap between regular bus transit and fixed-route transit, such as light rail or a streetcar.

We recognized the need for more, higher quality transit in key corridors. BRT was being built and planned in a few American cities, and its flexibility and potential lower cost made it a good fit for Kansas City. 

Working hard to secure federal and local funding, KCATA planned for the first BRT line to run from City Market, downtown, through Crown Center and midtown, and into the Plaza.  Select trips would continue past UMKC, and into Brookside and Waldo. While this would be a bus, it wouldn’t be your mother’s Metro. No, it was going to be different. We wanted to make it quicker, so we took out extra stops, placing stops approximately every four blocks instead every block. During rush hour, the route would have designated bus-only lanes through the Plaza and Midtown. And using state-of-the art GPS technology, every MAX station would have real-time information to let riders know how many minutes they would need to wait before MAX would arrive.

The unique MAX identity and features were attractive to people who had never ridden the bus and to tourists. The simplicity of the Orange Line attracted new riders.  There are many ways to measure the success of MAX, but perhaps the most telling is more riders: the corridor served by Main St. MAX has experienced a 50% increase in ridership within a few years of launch, and that level has been sustained.

It’s been a wild ride for MAX over the last 10 years. We’ve had transit agencies and engineers from all over the country visit MAX. On the success of real-time information for MAX, we’ve expanded it to our entire fleet. We introduced WIFI for all MAX vehicles.  We’ve launched a second MAX line, and are developing a third. 

Riders finish their trip at 3rd & Grand on June 24, 2005.

The first trip on Main Street MAX arrives at the Waldo station.