The launch of a pilot public transit plan by Johnson County government in conjunction with the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority is a step in the right direction. We applaud any efforts to solve the persistent challenges the county’s commuting public face everyday to get around.
For years, Johnson County has struggled to provide reliable public transportation for citizens. The problem is compounded by a deep driving culture and a public infrastructure system that favors the use of personal cars over public means.
We recently chronicled the challenges commuters on the 595 bus line from downtown Kansas City, Kan., to the Logistics Park in Edgerton face each day. One of the passengers in that story had to take a bus from Olathe to Kansas City Mo., hop onto another bus to Kansas City Kan., in order to get onto the 595. It took him three buses and close to three hours to get to a job in Gardner, less than ten miles from his house. That should not be an acceptable standard.
Under the new plan, the county has committed up to $250,000 to the pilot project and KCTA has made available three 12-passenger vans that can be summoned by commuters to their location using a mobile app.
The pilot program will initially cover only Shawnee, Overland Park and Lenexa, three of the county’s most populated areas.
While we acknowledge that the pilot is risky, and that it shouldn’t replace long-term investment in public transit infrastructure, our hope is that this creative pilot succeeds and is rolled out to the rest of the county soon.