Wagswoofs – A Kansas City bus driver is raising concerns about the recent decision by KCATA to end free fares without implementing any changes. According to him, this decision poses a safety issue.
After having a conversation with the bus driver, FOX4 sought to gather the thoughts of the passengers. However, before initiating the discussion, an unexpected and chaotic incident took place at 12th and Charlotte on Thursday afternoon. As a result, the passengers hurriedly approached us with their opinions.
Buses in Kansas City have been offering free rides for everyone over the last four years. However, in certain cases, individuals who have caused disruptions may be prohibited from riding or requested to exit the bus.
The reason behind Ride KC Transit Authority’s decision to remove a man from a bus stop on Thursday afternoon remains uncertain. However, when the man refused to leave, a scuffle broke out. He swung at the security officer before being compelled back into the bus stop and brought down to the ground.
Passenger Precious McDowell expressed her concerns about the issues occurring on the bus due to its free fare policy. She emphasized that the presence of loitering individuals contributes to incidents that should not be happening.
KCATA driver Wendell Ferguson reached out to us to discuss the issues caused by what he refers to as “ride-a-rounders”.
Ferguson expressed his thoughts on the matter, acknowledging that while it may seem like a good idea to offer free fare, the reality of the situation is different. He emphasized the challenges faced by public transport workers who often encounter verbal abuse and physical assault while on duty.
Last week, the KCATA board was presented with a study on the financial implications of reintroducing bus fares. Interestingly, this study also shed light on the issue of loop riders, individuals who utilize the bus primarily for shelter or other non-transportation purposes.
According to the study, bus fares have the potential to generate an additional $5.8-$7.1 million in revenue. However, it is important to note that this increase in fares could also result in a decrease in ridership, ranging from 17% to 33%. This could have an impact on individuals like Antoinette Hill, who rely on public transportation for their daily commute.
“I have seizures, so being able to catch a bus or an Uber is how I get around,” Hill shared. “Having the option to ride the bus for free to get to work really makes a difference for me.”
Ferguson stated that despite facing verbal abuse, threats, and vandalism, there are still passengers who continue to use the bus for its intended purpose – to reach their destinations. These individuals are the reason Ferguson remains committed to her job, as they represent the true essence of public transportation.
After witnessing someone being taken away in handcuffs from the bus stop, McDowell firmly believes that the incidents occurring there are a direct result of the bus being free.
The cost of reinstating fares will also be a factor for KCATA’s board if they decide to resume the discussion.
According to the study, the majority of bus systems have transitioned from using cash to bus cards, unlike Kansas City’s previous payment method. This shift may require an initial investment ranging from $2.5 to $6 million.