Dec 11, 2019

Kansas City votes to make its bus system free

Expand chart
Reproduced from ValuePenguin; Chart: Axios Visuals

Kansas City, Missouri, is set to be the largest city in the country to offer free bus rides to all of its citizens.

The big picture: Kansas City is effectively a guinea pig, as other cities wait to see how the free bus ride system will play out.

  • Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas told Axios that Seattle has reached out to him to see how they will be implementing the free bus ride system.

Why it matters: "I think this is only the beginning for the next step in good transportation equity," Lucas said.

  • For working people, saving "$1,500 or $2,000 a year on bus fare makes a difference when you make $8" an hour, Lucas said.
  • He also says it will increase access to jobs.

The state of play: The base bus fare in Kansas City is currently $1.50 and a regular bus pass costs it is $50 a month.

  • Students, veterans and residents receiving domestic abuse services already ride for free.
  • A monthly pass accounts for 3.5% of a commuter's median income, which is $17,190, based on data from ValuePenguin.

By the numbers: The entire cost to make the bus system free is about $12 million annually, and the city will have to front $8 million, per NPR. In a city with a $1.7 billion budget, Lucas said enough cost-saving initiatives should make free bus fares possible.

  • Lucas said it costs the city $2 million a year to collect bus fares and maintain the system, so that money can now go toward the free fares.
  • Kansas City has a free streetcar system in some neighborhoods that's built up a healthy reserve fund, so $2 million that goes to the streetcar system will now be redirected to free busing.
  • Lucas told local TV station FOX4 that the city already spends $58 million a year on its bus system.
  • The city manager is tasked with finding the remaining funds needed for the free buses in the city's 2020 budget.

What's next: Lucas hopes the buses will be completely free for all residents by June 2020.

Worth noting: Other places have free bus fare for residents, but it's mainly in college towns as a service for students and university employees such as Chapel Hill, North Carolina, or Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

3 mins ago - Technology

Cisco, Sony postpone events amid continued protests

Screenshot: Axios (via YouTube)

Cisco said Monday night that it is postponing the online version of Cisco Live, its major customer event, amid the ongoing protests that have followed the killing of George Floyd.

Why it matters: Cisco joins Sony, Electronic Arts and Google in delaying tech events planned for this week.

9 mins ago - Technology

Twitter suspends fake antifa account tied to white nationalists

Twitter said Monday that it has suspended an account named "ANTIFA_US" which it says was tied to the white nationalist group Identity Evropa. Over the weekend, the account had called for violence and its posts had widely circulated online.

Why it matters: It's the latest example of social media being used to exploit and sharpen the very real divisions in American society. It's also the latest example of Twitter more aggressively rooting out false information on its platform.

Updated 24 mins ago - Politics & Policy

The latest: George Floyd protests nationwide

Police officers wearing riot gear push back demonstrators outside of the White House on Monday. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people continued for a seventh day across the U.S., with President Trump threatening on Monday to deploy the military if the unrest continues.

The latest: Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser criticized federal police in a tweet Monday night for using munitions earlier in the day "on peaceful protestors in front of the White House, an act that will make the job of (DC Police Department) officers more difficult." "Shameful!" she added as she urged residents to go home and stay safe.