The City of Independence today announced that it has successfully worked with the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) to request $10 million in transit funding to help supplement lost revenues from sales tax, passenger fares and local support during COVID-19. This $10 million is from the CARES Act funds awarded to the Kansas City region and these funds will be used to supplement bus services in Johnson County, the Unified Government of Kansas City and Independence.
“Public transportation is an essential service in our community and is vital for our workforce, students and visitors, and I was determined not to allow it to lapse,” Independence Mayor Eileen Weir said. “Whether you use the bus service or not, you rely on someone who does. Independence has been a leader in transit in our region, and thanks to the strong relationships we have formed with the KCATA over the years, we were able to reach an agreement at this critical time. We are now charged with getting to work immediately to sustain and expand our public transit beyond 2021.”
The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority Board of Commissioners unanimously approved these funds which will allocate $1.6 million to the City of Independence for transit on May 27. These funds were made available through the federal CARES Act and will allow preservation of the fixed route transit system (IndeBus) through Fiscal Year 2020-21.
“RideKC Independence is a critical part of an integrated transit system,” said Robbie Makinen, CEO of KCATA. “No one understands the need to connect the citizens of Independence to the region better than Mayor Weir. I’m so glad we could work together to provide choices for people who want to use transit to get around the region.”
The next step is amending the submitted budget to reflect restoration of this service, which will occur at the June 1 City Council meeting. As announced during the May 11 Proposed Budget presentation from City Manager Zach Walker, bus services in Independence are subsidized by the General Fund at a cost of approximately $900,000 a year. The allocated CARES Act funds will help fill this gap for the 2020-2021 Fiscal Year. The Independence City Council will approve the Proposed Fiscal Year 2020-2021 Budget on June 15.