Midtown part of pilot national microtransit service to get people to work and jobs


Midtown, Hospital Hill, and the University of Kansas Medical Center will be among the first areas in the country to test a new way of getting around – microtransit.

These areas are included in a new pilot program called Ride KC: Bridj announced today by the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA), Bridj, and the Ford Motor Company. They say the program will use a network of locally built Ford Transit vans to provide a new way to access areas of Kansas City that are rich in jobs and housing.

“Today, we are bringing another transit option to the region with the introduction of microtransit,” said Robbie Makinen, KCATA president and CEO. “By combining the intelligence of Bridj technology with capable and flexible Ford Transit vehicles, we are creating a seamless and borderless transportation network for our residents that is easy to use, comfortable and affordable.”

The one-year pilot program starting in March also will include downtown Kansas City, the near east and west sides, Crown Center, and the Historic 18th and Vine Jazz district. Additional routes may be added if there is rider demand.

Bridj uses data to determine where riders want to go and how to get them there most efficiently. Riders within the Bridj service areas can use a mobile app to request on-demand shuttle service.

“Only 18 percent of jobs in the Kansas City region are accessible within 90 minutes when using existing mass transit options,” said Bridj’s CEO Matt George, citing figures from the Brookings Institute, said in a new release.

“Modernizing urban infrastructure will be the single greatest technology challenge of our time, and this pilot is part of the solution by significantly extending the current capabilities of Kansas City’s mass transit system,” he said.

The KCATA says the service will augment its existing service and also get people from work or home to other transit connections. Pickup locations may be existing bus stops or bike-share stations.

“Bridj will be an empowering tool that will offer one more option to make it easier for people to get around,” said KCATA’s Makinen. “KCATA is a place where bus, bike, streetcar and rapid transit come together to create a seamless and borderless transportation network that’s easy and friendly to use. Bridj will be a valuable addition to Kansas City’s mix of transportation options.”

Bridj also operates in Boston and Washington, D.C., but the partnership in Kansas City is unique in two ways: it is the first time Bridj has partnered with a transit agency and the first time it is working with the Ford Motor Company to provide locally-built shuttle vans.

The Ten Ford Transit passenger vans using the Ford Smart Mobility will be built at Kansas City Assembly Plant and will make up the network of shuttles in the pilot program.

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