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

Pelosi on state of coronavirus stimulus talks: "It's a chasm"

Democrats and the Trump administration remain "miles apart" on negotiations over a coronavirus stimulus deal, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on Wednesday.

Driving the news, via Axios' Dion Rabouin: Congress' failure to renew enhanced unemployment measures for millions of Americans at the end of July is already affecting consumer spending patterns, holding down retail purchases and foot traffic, economists at Deutsche Bank say.

Updated 24 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of noon ET: 20,391,697 — Total deaths: 744,211— Total recoveries: 12,625,076Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 a.m. ET: 5,161,612 — Total deaths: 164,690 — Total recoveries: 1,714,960 — Total tests: 63,252,257Map.
  3. Business: U.S. already feeling effects of ending unemployment benefits — U.S. producer prices rose last month by the most since October 2018.
  4. Public health: America is flying blind on its coronavirus response.
  5. Education: Gallup: America's confidence in public school system jumps to highest level since 2004.
  6. World: Lebanon reports coronavirus record, UN warns Beirut blast may drive cases higher
54 mins ago - World

U.S. threatens to veto UN peacekeeping in Lebanon over Hezbollah concerns

Peacekeepers with Lebanese troops in southern Lebanon. Photo: Jalaa Marey/AFP via Getty

The Trump administration is threatening to veto a resolution to extend the UN's long-standing peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon if its mandate isn't changed, Israeli and U.S. officials tell me.

Why it matters: The U.S. is the main funder of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which has an annual budget of $250 million. The veto threat is a tactical move, and part of a broader effort to put pressure on Iran and its proxy in Lebanon, Hezbollah.