County approves pilots to expand transit options

An older woman in on a scooter boards a transit system bus.

The Board of County Commissioners has approved several pilot programs that are expected to improve public transportation service in Johnson County.

“The board has established strategic priorities for transit, which include creating a transit system that is accessible, effective and efficient; is regionally coordinated; and connects housing, workforce and jobs,” said Chairman Ed Eilert.

The pilots address fixed routes, commuter express, micro transit and paratransit services in Johnson County.

The BOCC authorized the use of the federal transit funding. The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority serves as the region’s direct recipient of this transit-specific funding and manages the funds on behalf of the regional partners, according to federal formula guidelines, which include an allocation of $18.2 million to Johnson County Transit.

The pilot programs include:

  • Streamlined commuter express service (prioritize the use of existing park and ride locations, reduce travel time and create a new commuter express route).
  • Fixed route improvements (increased mid-day service levels, a new local route on the 87th street corridor, the introduction of the first-ever Saturday fixed route service for four existing routes).
  • New complimentary paratransit service in support of vulnerable populations.
  • Micro transit program expansion (expanded service area with multizone structure, introduction of Sunday service for micro transit and adjustment of fares for the micro transit service.

“These changes will improve the quality and level of service of transit in the county and make public transportation in Johnson County a more viable mode of travel for residents by offering more frequent, reliable service,” said Josh Powers, business liaison, Johnson County Planning, Housing and Community Development.

Each pilot program will be continually evaluated on its impact and efficacy, with particular attention paid to key performance indicators, such as ridership, cost per ride and percentage of on-time trips provided, as well as additional performance metrics, such as increases in access to employment centers, educational opportunities and health care services.

The pilots will get underway during the second quarter of 2022.