Bus Riders Skeptical About New System in Independence

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KCATA bus, file photo

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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- New bus service is coming to Independence as the city takes over providing public transit for citizens. The city is promising more service, longer hours and more miles without an increase in rider fares.

Still, some riders have questions about how the new Independence bus will fit in with the metro ATA bus system. James Roy says it's not unusual to wait for up to an hour at the Independence Transit center for a bus to take him where he needs to go. Roy is willing to give the new bus a try.

"They need to run a lot more, besides every hour, less than an hour," he said. "If you gotta go somewhere and you're kinda in a hurry, you have to wait, or if you miss the bus you're taking you have to take the next one. "

A city committee studied bus service in Independence for about a year before determining that it could provide better service itself by contracting with a private firm instead of paying the ATA.

"We have worked really hard to find deficiencies in the system, less dead head time, so we can afford to provide enhancements to the rider," said Jennifer Clark.

Some riders have expressed concerns that the new bus system won't connect well with ATA buses in Kansas City.

"I'm skeptical, very skeptical," said Robert Treese. "Because ATA has done a great job. Why mess with it? but I guess Independence wants to have their own bus line. I just don't see it being as good as what KC has got."

The ATA will continue to provide service between Independence and Kansas City. Clark says Independence is monitoring connection concerns. Monthly passes purchased from either Independence or the ATA will be good on both transit systems to ease the transfer process.

Independence is paying $1.8 million for the first year of the Independence bus which is about the same as what Kansas City paid the ATA. Free rides on the new buses are being offered on Saturday, June 23 on all Independence routes.

The system is scheduled to start in July.

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