Independence, KCATA Approve New Agreement To Manage Independence Transit

Date:June 24, 2015

(Kansas City, Mo. – June 24, 2015) The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority’s Board of Commissioners on Wednesday approved a new agreement to manage transit services for the city of Independence.

The management contract, approved unanimously by the KCATA’s board, is another significant step toward building a seamless transit network that will connect people across the region to economic opportunity. Late last year, the KCATA entered into a similar agreement with Johnson County, the most populous county in Kansas.

Already approved by the Independence City Council, the new agreement will make it easier to use public transportation in the region. The contract’s key features include:

Independence riders with disabilities who depend on paratransit services would only need to make one phone call to get transportation. Making 1,900 monthly trips, paratransit riders currently have to keep track of two numbers, one for transit services within Independence, and another for the same services offered elsewhere across the Kansas City region.
Gaining eligibility for paratransit services will be easier because Independence riders will now only need to be certified once, regardless of where they’re traveling.
It will save Independence about $100,000 a year and free up city staff to devote more time to planning and development activities such as zoning, historic preservation, code enforcement and permitting.
Call centers will now be centralized. Under this proposal, IndeBus riders would call the KCATA’s Regional Call Center to get route, schedule and fare information, rather than community development staff. The call center already provides this type of information for Johnson County Transit, Unified Government Transit, and of course, The Metro. No jobs would be eliminated as the services are streamlined.
Independence will pay the KCATA $685,000 to manage the city’s transit services and ensure that they are well operated.
The new contract starts July 1.

The KCATA last provided bus service within the city of Independence in 2012. Independence now joins Johnson County in a regional effort to build an interconnected transit network connecting people to economic opportunity. Last December, the KCATA entered into a similar agreement with Johnson County to manage its transit contract. It was the first time in 30 years since Johnson County had been part of the KCATA’s system.

“This contract articulates a real win-win for the citizens of Independence as well as for the entire region,” said Joe Reardon, the KCATA’s president and chief executive officer.

KCATA Board Chairman Robbie Makinen praised Independence Mayor Eileen Weir and the Independence City Council for collaborating on the management agreement and recognizing the importance of a regional transit system.

“It is amazing how much each easier it will be for folks with special needs and seniors to get around the region once this goes into effect,” he said. “This is a really big deal.”

Also Wednesday, Melissa Bynum took a seat on the Board of Commissioners. Bynum was appointed to the board by Mayor Mark Holland of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kan. She replaces A.J.  Dusek, who passed away earlier this year.

Elected to the Unified Government’s Board of Commissioners in April, Bynum serves as the executive director of the Shepherd’s Center of Kansas City, Kan., which advocates for the aging. The former publisher of the Wyandotte West newspaper, Bynum has worked for various non-profit groups in Wyandotte County for more than 20 years.