KCATA bus ridership up

busIn Kansas City, as nationwide, more people are using public transit.

Ridership was 15.8 million for Kansas City Area Transportation Authority buses last year – the third highest in the last two decades.

Danny O’Connor of the ATA reported the numbers Thursday to the mayor and city manager.

They mesh with a recent nationwide report that Americans took 10.7 billion rides on public transportation last year, the highest yearly ridership number in 57 years.

Since 1995, public transit ridership in the nation is up 37.2 percent, the American Public Transportation Association reported.

On Thursday, O’Conner said that since 2010, the ATA bus ridership has increased by 9.6 percent per passengers per hour – “fuller buses and more riders.”

They now run 60 routes with 42 of them going downtown, he said.

They are working with other area bus operations to make buses more convenient, easier to use and more direct, he said.

Priorities include planning for a new Prospect Max bus that could be created if voters approve a streetcar expansion plan and it gets federal funding, he reported.

The ATA is also planning new bus routes and other changes for downtown, with new transit centers at 3rd and Grand, the East Village and the west Central Business District, he said.

They would focus on key north-south routes along Grand Avenue and east-west routes along 12th street, he said.

All that would cost $15-$20 million, he said, but it would allow for shuttles from Quality Hill and other improvements.

Mayor Sly James also heard a report that the 2-mile downtown streetcar system is on time and under budget, still scheduled to open in winter of 2015.

“It looks like it will be possible to live downtown without owning a car, which would be nice,” James said.

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