OLATHE, Kan. — Johnson County will soon end a contract with a regional transit authority to bring bus management services in-house.

On Thursday, the Johnson County Board of Commissioners (BOCC) voted 7-0 to end an interlocal agreement with the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA). 

In 2014 the BOCC entered into an interlocal agreement with KCATA to manage the county’s transit services. 

The county currently pays KCATA roughly $584,000 annually for the management of three third-party contracts with First Transit for fixed route, paratransit and dispatching services. KCATA also oversees a contract with WHC Inc., for micro transit and taxi services and EcoLane for administration services.

Now, the county will withdraw from that agreement to have the county public works department handle day-to-day transit operations. Commissioner Janeé Hanzlick said the change will allow the county to better manage the upcoming launch of several transit pilot programs. 

“This is a way to strengthen Johnson County’s opportunity to have a successful pilot project,” Hanzlick said. 

Last November the BOCC approved more than $15million in new transit pilot programs, including paratransit and micro transit services. 

“These pilot programs will inform the county how to best adapt for the future of public transportation in Johnson County,” County Manager Penny Postoak Ferguson said.

“We believe that direct oversight of these pilots, our existing services and our third-party contracts will be of the utmost importance as these programs are implemented. Over the last few years, we have benefited from the enhanced regional collaboration for transit services, and with these changes the valuable regional collaboration will continue.”

The county plans to establish the Johnson County Transit division within the Public Works Department by August 1. The county would then create five new full-time positions to support transit services going forward. The new positions would be funded by money currently allocated for the KCATA contract. 

The county currently owns the transit fleet and contracts with First Transit and WHC to operate the bus service. Budget Director Scott Neufeld estimates the program has roughly 125 drivers, including about 45 full-time employees.  

Commissioners say bus services will remain the same for riders and Johnson County Transit will remain part of the regional RideKC brand.