KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Some bus passengers are frustrated with the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority after they say they were kicked off the bus and made to wait in the cold.
Carolyn Clay uses public transportation because she has seizures and doesn't want to risk getting behind the wheel.
“If I do drive, it's going to put my life and others in jeopardy,” the 55-year-old said.
One February morning she bought an all-day pass and hopped on the Prospect Max to go visit her niece. When the bus arrived at the 75th and Prospect transportation center, Clay said the operator told her she had to get off the bus so she could take a break.
Temperatures were near freezing.
“I had to wait on her to take her break on the warm bus while I was standing out in the cold,” Clay said.
Clay said she had to wait 10-15 minutes before she was allowed back on the bus.
“I felt like an animal,” she said.
Jameson Auten is the deputy CEO chief operating officer for KCATA. He said the agency's continuous riding policy, which went into place last November, was implemented for safety reasons, and it allows operators to refocus before continuing their route.
“When they do get to the end of the route, which is called their layover point, we do ask customers to get off the bus,” Auten explained. “If the operator is off the bus and people are on the bus, it’s exposed, and that's the same policy the streetcar uses as well.”
Auten said there are exceptions but only when temperatures are below 10 degrees in the winter and above 100 degrees in the summer. Essentially, when the KCATA offers its warming and cooling buses out in the community, operators should let passengers stay on board.
“We’re really just trying to build in some more safety into our system, focusing on passenger safety and also operator safety,” he said.
“It's dangerous to me,” Clay replied.
She’s mostly concerned that operators don't know the type of health conditions their riders have and how being out in the elements could affect them.
“They need to do something different versus putting people off the bus,” Clay said.
Auten said out of the 1,300 calls they've taken since November, less than 20 of them have been complaints about the continuous riding policy.