Metropolitan Community College students will get a valuable new benefit when the fall semester starts in August: Their MCC student ID will double as an all-access RideKC bus pass — at no additional cost to the students.
The unlimited bus service is a two-year pilot program and a partnership between MCC and the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority. MCC’s Board of Trustees approved the program May 19; the KCATA Board of Commissioners approved it today (May 25).
The U-Pass, as it is known, will provide full-time and part-time MCC students, who are enrolled in courses for credit, with free, unlimited access to all RideKC transit, including bus service operated by KCATA, Johnson County and Independence. The U-Pass is not available to noncredit program students.
MCC has about 18,000 students a semester attending five campuses on the Missouri side of the Kansas City area, including the Northland, Independence and Lee’s Summit.
Shannon Johnson, an MCC-Penn Valley student, says U-Pass sounds good to her “because I spend between $25 and $50 a month buying a bus pass, and it gets a little hard because my mom pays for it. This would be a lot easier on the family.”
Johnson, who’s working on an associate degree in criminal justice, says there were days last fall when “if I didn’t have a bus pass I couldn’t get to class.”
MCC leaders view the transit program as one more way to support student success.
“We have many motivated students for whom transportation becomes a barrier to completing their studies at MCC,” says Kathrine Swanson, vice chancellor for student success and engagement. There are prospective students, too, who can’t attend college because of transportation challenges.
“MCC continues to seek ways to provide our students with the resources needed to get the most out of their educational experience,” Swanson says. “Sometimes the needed resources are beyond the traditional academic supports.”
Shelley Temple Kneuvean, vice chancellor for financial and administrative services, says the program is a win-win for both the College and the KCATA. It will ultimately “benefit the thousands of MCC students as they become riders of KCATA's transportation system,” she says.
“There is a strategic alignment between MCC's mission to ensure higher education is within the reach of all people and KCATA's mission to provide high-quality public transportation throughout the region,” Kneuvean says. “By providing unlimited access for our students to the region’s public transportation system, we are able to maximize this opportunity for all five of our campuses.”
“This partnership is an easy way to give MCC students access to the whole region through RideKC transit service,” says KCATA President/CEO Robbie Makinen. “We’re excited to connect college students to the entire region through quality, accessible transit. Students will be able to access not only their education, but also job opportunities and the city’s rich cultural life.”
All five MCC campuses are served by at least one RideKC route, with connections to routes all over the region. MCC-Penn Valley is served direct by five routes, and is within walking distance of the Main St. MAX.
A monthly RideKC pass costs $50 for local service or $95 for express service. But for commuters who switch from driving a car to taking a bus, the savings can be in the thousands of dollars a year.
RideKC offers more than 90 routes throughout the Kansas City region. Metropolitan Community College is working with KCATA to more closely align bus schedules with campus class schedules.