As the Kansas City region begins to slowly reopen, RideKC has created a tentative framework to restore service as the region weathers the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are also planning to incorporate key recommendations in the RideKC Next system redesign. Central to our plan is connecting people to opportunities, and ensuring access to jobs and services at hospitals, other medical care, pharmacies, grocery and food services, and other essential services.
The current situation in Kansas City – and the nation – is fluid and unpredictable. Changing guidelines for businesses and schools impact how we provide transit service in the community. Economic forecasts for transit funding, which are heavily reliant on sales taxes, will also have an effect.
KCATA has developed a four-phase plan for restoring service.
With this plan, we will be adjusting bus service between now and Spring 2021, with an ongoing focus on essential trips and services. The goal is to match service levels with actual and expected ridership, available staff, the need to maintain physical distancing on buses, as well as the need for frequent cleaning.
With those conditions in mind, here is RideKC’s current four-phase plan:
RideKC Next was developed with significant public input. RideKC Next focused on:
As COVID-19 reached the region, local leaders responded with a regional stay-at-home order to slow the spread of COVID and prevent deaths. RideKC ridership fell by about 50 percent as workers, students and others remained home and unemployment rose. Additionally, our ability to staff all routes was impacted by several factors: existing medical conditions of bus operators, suspected employee exposures to COVID-19 and subsequent isolation, and caregiver responsibilities for parents, children and other immediate family members.
RideKC adjusted routes on April 12 in response to the drop in ridership and the availability of operators and vehicles. The bus service we are currently providing is 47 percent of regular weekday service. Service in KCMO and much of KCK is using a modified Saturday schedule, with service ending by 9 p.m. Express routes in Missouri are providing one or two round trips per day. In Johnson County, express service has been reduced and some local service was reduced to hourly schedules. RideKC routes operated by Unified Government Transit and Independence are maintaining their schedules at this time, although Independence, Mo., is looking at changes to service due to budget issues.
Currently, fares are suspended on all RideKC buses. However, fares and front-door boarding could be reinstated in the coming months. RideKC will provide 30 days notice for customers to purchase fares through pass outlets, our online store or our official app, Transit.
As we move forward, we believe our phased service restoration will provide safe and reliable service for our current riders. We are continuing to evaluate ridership trends to make sure we are providing the right level of service. Your feedback throughout the coming year will be helpful. In addition to surveys, we are also continuing to monitor customer service complaints and compliments to pinpoint where boardings are limited due to distancing requirements. Your voice is important as we rebuild public transit in Kansas City. Please continue to provide feedback through surveys, our website, social media and the regional call center.
Thank you for your support, whether you are able to ride at this time or if you are waiting to return. We especially appreciate the kind words for our front-line employees who are getting the region’s workers to hospitals, offices, stores and more.
Please continue to check our website and social media channels for frequent updates and service status.