The free bus service is expected to cost around $8 million and has been pitched as a major help to low-income residents who rely on transit to commute to work.
Kansas City is to become the first major US metropolitan area to offer no-cost public transportation, following a unanimous vote by the city council.
The resolution directs the city manager to set aside funding to cover fares starting next year and “make fixed-route public transportation fare-free within the city,” according to a report from local TV station KSHB.
The city’s light rail (streetcar) service is already free with the aim of boosting economic activity by increasing downtown mobility options and improving resident and visitor access to jobs and services.
According to 435 Kansas City’s Magazine, the free bus service is expected to cost around $8 million and has been pitched as a major help to low-income residents who rely on transit to commute to work.
“This is going to improve the lives of so many and help fuel the local economy.”
New mayor, Quinton Lucas, spearheaded the plan with the support of city opinion leaders including the Kansas City Star newspaper’s editorial board, notes 435 magazine.
After the vote, Lucas commended the "monumental" step.
He tweeted: “The city council just took a monumental, unanimous step toward #ZeroFareTransit – setting Kansas City up to soon become the first major metropolitan city with free public bus service.”
Other supporters include district councilman Eric Bunch, who co-sponsored the initiative with Lucas.
“When we’re talking about improving people’s lives who are our most vulnerable citizens, I don’t think there’s any question that we need to find that money,” Bunch told KSHB.
“That’s not a ton of money and it’s money that we as a city, if we want to prioritise public transportation, it’s something that we can find.”
The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority also praised the measure. In a tweet, the authority said: “This is going to improve the lives of so many and help fuel the local economy.”
Since its introduction in 2016, the city’s 2.2-mile downtown light rail system has, reportedly, helped deliver more than $2 billion in property value growth.
The light rail system has logged than five million passenger trips in 2.5 years of service – twice the original ridership forecasts.
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