Independence Transit Committee Recommends First Transit
Posted by Transit Action Network on December 22, 2011
In a move characterized as a “new integrated transit system,” the Independence City Council Transit Committee recommended First Transit to operate their intra-city (local) routes beginning Monday, July 2, 2012. KCATA would continue to operate inter-city routes. Final action by the full City Council is anticipated in January 2012.
The committee’s recommendation is to:
(1) contract with KCATA to continue certain current services including inter-city and commuter bus routes (Routes 24 and 24x), paratransit service (Share-A-Fare) for inter-city and eligible intra-city trips, grant filings and FTA reporting, and regional transit information center operations
(2) contract with First Transit to provide local fixed route and deviated fixed route service, paratransit service for intra-city trips, and senior transportation service (Dial-A-Ride). First Transit is the contract operator for Johnson County Transit.
Independence says its revised transit plan will provide a 40% increase in service area, 32 additional miles of routes, and a 30 percent increase in hours of operation. Local service will be provided using specially designed new buses, tentatively branded “IndeBus.” Waiting times between buses will increase on some routes due to extending the length of the route without adding additional buses.
Independence expects coordinated scheduling between the two systems to minimize waiting times. Fares will be the same for both systems and Independence expects to work out an agreement with KCATA so there will not be a fare impact on the riders using passes or transfers.
Still unresolved are some funding issues, including how much federal “formula” money Independence will receive as pass-through from the KCATA allocation. Independence will presumably qualify for federal funds related to routes operated by KCATA, but regulations related to employee protections under Section 13(c) of Federal Transit Law could make it difficult or even illegal to use federal formula funds for the Independence local routes (see previous article). This issue — how much federal money will be passed through to Independence — could significantly change the transit funding situation in Independence. Discussions and legal research are ongoing between and among Independence, KCATA, the FTA, the Amalgamated Transit Union, and MARC.
A publicity campaign is planned to start in April, including public meetings, route maps, publication in the Independence newsletter CityScene and information on City 7, the public access cable channel. Bus stop and schedule signs will be replaced and First Transit will work with the businesses in the new service areas for locating stops.
Although its total cost of transit service will rise slightly, Independence expects ridership to increase at least 15% with the increased route coverage. In addition, the City plans to seek grants to supplement money from its General Fund.