Board of County Commissioners approves proposal to improve transit access to jobs

The Johnson County Board of County Commissioners today voted to establish reverse commute service to southwest Johnson County and to expand jobs-focused paratransit service.

The reverse commute service builds on existing service to connect Logistics Park Kansas City at the BNSF intermodal facility in Edgerton, Kansas, with Kansas City, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri, with stops at New Century AirCenter.

“This plan aligns with the commission’s main priorities — improving access to the growing number of jobs across Johnson County, especially to the many new employers and opportunities in the Logistics Park at Edgerton and new employers in Gardner,” said Commission Chairman Ed Eilert. “We look forward to the potential partnerships this transit plan creates with area employers.”

The vote today authorizes the completion of a proposal approved in 2017 for the FY 2018 budget.

The new reverse commute service will include six morning trips, three from Kansas City, Missouri, and three from Kansas City, Kansas, with seven evening trips, four to Missouri and three to Kansas. The new service builds upon the existing 595 Gardner – OP Express route and maintains existing stops while offering new connections to Logistics Park Kansas City. Route and stop planning will be flexible in the early stages to respond to employer needs.

“Extensive collaboration between Johnson County, Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, Mid-America Regional Council, local governments and businesses resulted in innovative solutions for a growing need in our community,” said Interim County Manager Penny Postoak Ferguson. “This transit plan aims to meet the needs of daily commuters, providing access to job hubs and service lines to better accommodate workers.”

Expanded paratransit service will implement an ADA eligibility process and expand the RideKC Freedom On-Demand pilot, which offers mobile-app based, same-day service across the existing paratransit service area. The proposal will also expand a pilot jobs-access program initiated by Johnson County Mental Health for Developmental Supports clients, and fund a study of non-transit transportation services provided by Johnson County Mental Health, Developmental Supports and Corrections.

The transit proposal was submitted to the commission based on recommendations from Mid-America Regional Council’s “SmartMoves 3.0” long-range transportation plan, as well as results of a planning sustainable places (PSP) grant-funded study looking at jobs access transportation needs in southwest Johnson County.

The funds approved for the reverse commute service total $300,000 and funds for the expanded paratransit service total $200,000 and were included in the FY 2018 budget.

The SmartMoves 3.0 plan was completed in August 2017 and adopted by MARC in September 2017. The PSP study was completed in December 2017.

Johnson County Government contracts with the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority to provide regional transit services.

See article on Johnson County Government site.