New Jack City: JoCo’s New Bus Shelters—Uh, WHY?

mtc_renderI’ve been noticing all those modern, new bus shelters popping up in Johnson County

Transit Stops, I guess, if you want to be politically correct. Flashy, new covered bus stops for The Jo, including a spiffy new terminal at 5251 Johnson Drive in traffic ticket-hungry Mission.

It doesn’t get any better…or does it?

With high transportation costs and serious consideration of pouring millions into a new KCI terminal, greater Kansas City—and especially Johnson County—still suffer from transportation blues.

Not so in surrounding Denver, St. Louis, Dallas, Minneapolis or other comparable markets that have long since successfully dealt with transportation improvements.

These new covered shelters, complete with bus route info and electronic schedules, look great alright, but I’ve yet to spot a SINGLE person waiting in one of them. And I pass these transit stops–especially on Metcalf and in downtown Overland Park—all the time.

Sorry, my mistake.busman1-300x224

I did see ONE person laying down on a bus bench inside one of the new shelters at 75th and Metcalf the other day. He seemed to have several stuffed trash bags with him and appeared to be homeless.

In Johnson County? No way, you say.

Getting where and when you want to go by bus from the golden getto—or within—still takes time and patience. The king size JoCo busses I see in my neck of the woods are usually nearly empty carrying maybe one to three passengers.

Wouldn’t smaller vehicles suffice? Maybe even save money?

I know they’re in the fleet and could be implemented more efficiently during slow times of the day.

Which brings me to my major beef with Johnson County transit.

When I first moved to Johnson County, we had just ONE metro bus system serving the entire area: Kansas City, Wyandotte County and Johnson County. Getting around the metro was much easier back then. But that all changed in the early 80’s when Johnson County disassociated itself from KC’s bus system.

rosana_shelterSo why the collapse?

Was it a squabble over routes and money? I’ve always heard it was money.

Whatever the real reason, imagine if the cost of the new transit stops could have instead been applied to a TRUE area transportation system. Light rail then REALLY would’ve made sense.
berlin_wall_ksBut I’m a dreamer. I’ll probably never live to see top notch public transportation throughout this metroplex.

But wait…..

I also never thought I’d see the fall of the Berlin Wall.

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21 Responses to New Jack City: JoCo’s New Bus Shelters—Uh, WHY?

  1. Fresh says:

    “With high transportation costs and serious consideration of pouring millions into a new KCI terminal, greater Kansas City—and especially Johnson County—still suffer from transportation blues.”

    I get the gist of your post except for one thing. Johnson County doesn’t give two shits about what is going on with KCI.

    • jack p. says:

      Hate to disagree with you, Fresh. But have you ever paid attention to the license plates on the cars in the various parking lots at MCI? I would venture to guess that a high number—probably more than 50%—are Johnson County plates.
      And we DO give “two shits” as you so elegantly put it as to what happens at the airport.

  2. paulwilsonkc says:

    Being a fan of mass transit, trains for the most part, and having a soild working knowledge of the L in Chicago, MARTA in Atlanta, trains/subways in DC. NY and even the STL’s version, I thought for grins and giggles one day I’d look at the JO’s schedule and routes.
    First, I couldnt figure out how to even get where I might want to go, and second, you could walk there faster given the drop off and pick up times. Most of all, it was just incredibly difficult to figure out.
    This isn’t a bus friendly metro and theres not a chance I’m giving up my car along with control of where Im going and when Im going to get there for the sake of any level of being GREEN, which I am not in the first place..
    It works really well getting a segment of our population to work, where you’d expect the jobs to be. There are two call centers I know of and a Federal facility out around Bannister that you dont want to be standing there when the bus drops off, you’ll get trampled under foot.
    Hmmm, that would make a great name for a band.

    • Irishguy says:

      “There are two call centers I know of and a Federal facility out around Bannister that you dont want to be standing there when the bus drops off, you’ll get trampled under foot.”

      Huh? Are you saying the bus system there is failing because it’s too crowded? You ever ride a New York subway? Or Chicago’s El. Or D.C.’s Metro? Or St. Louis’ Metrolink? You think there is a reason they call it MASS transit?

      Now as for your fear of getting “trampled under foot at the Bannister Fed center stop, not true. I have had several occasions to take the Troost Max from the Firestone in front of Home Depot on Bannister, where I drop off one of the cars for service, to downtown. Yeah, sometimes the bus is packed, but isn’t that a good thing? And I have never, ever encountered any situation in which anybody got even closed to being “trampled.”

      By the way, described that “certain segment of the population” for me, will you? Might having to share a bus with that “certain segment” be your real concern?

  3. harley says:

    saw those on Metcalf…but their destination was a technical school at
    435 and Metcalf.
    why and how didthese things get built. The walkways are nice to and
    from the shelters…they’renice shelters but which republican allowed
    these to bebuilt …….seriously….how much money did they throw
    away on this deal when the Johnson county housing department is
    broke…dead broke…busted putting families on the street homeless?

  4. the dude says:

    The Golden Ghetto is getting prepared for the next exodus- they want all the section 8 and welfare people to move from the east side!! Just paving the way to steal something else from across the state line.

  5. Super Dave says:

    Jack I agree with you 100% it a huge joke. Mass transportation will never work around here because face it most people to damn lazy to even walk two blocks let alone maybe 5 blocks that’s just isn’t going to happen. In my case I would have to be at the first bus stop one hour and 55 minutes before I have to be at work. Now mind you this stop is located just 8.8 miles from where I work to then go to the next stop which is located 2.5 miles from where I work and as close as I can get but guess what most of that 2.5 miles I need to walk has no sidewalks. So in the end how can mass transportation help me by added close to 5 hours to my work day and requires me to walk no less than 5 miles a day in all kinds of weather along Shawnee Mission Parkway to save driving 16 miles a day….no thanks.

    • Irishguy says:

      Dave, I sympathize, while recognizing that in a city as sprawled out as KC, it’s impossible to design a bus system that serves everybody’s needs perfectly.

      I’m at the opposite end of the spectrum, living in the middle of KC. My bus stop is about eight blocks from my front door, a healthy morning and evening walk. The bus runs every 30 minutes and takes me two blocks from the downtown office.

      It’s about a 35-minute ride to work, compared to 2o minutes if I drove. I use that time to read while I plug my (cheap) Mp3 into my ears, and I can read a book in two weeks. Not only that, but I also arrive in a better mood, not fighting traffic or the phenomenon of driving downtown which is a lot like driving in Johnson County. You drive one block at a time to the next red light.

      Now on top of that, a monthly Metro pass costs $50, compared to nearly $80 for the Jo. $50 would barely cover the cost of the gas to drive back and forth from downtown every day, not to mention wear and tear on the car and tires.

      Not only that, but with two kids of driving age, my car sits in our driveway instead of a downtown parking garage all day. Using the bus has saved the expense of buying a third car so the kids can get to their summer jobs, or just hang out with friends.

      But try prying suburbanites out of their cars. I once campaigned to sign our place up for the Metro’s employer pass discount, where you get $10 off the price of a monthly pass, and it can be taken out of your paycheck before taxes.

      The human resources department was all for it. They actually would save money since it was a before-taxes deduction that they didn’t have to pay payroll taxes on.

      So I offered to show people their routes using the Metro’s trip planner. The Johnson County residents were hopeless causes for the reason you mention. The system there is terrible and extremely inconvenient. Can’t blame them, because a bus system ain’t “build it and they will come”. You put routes where they are used at times when they are used.

      Same was true for the people in Liberty, Lee’s Summit and Blue Springs outer burbs. Few routes, and twice the price.

      But for the people living closer in the Northland, Southland, Grandview? No way. Some of them had park and rides a mile from their front doors, and would save at least half the money they are spending on gas alone, driving by themselves to work. No way.

      You figure out the reason.

  6. chuck says:

    Bus Drivers in Detroit went on strike because they were getting their azzes kicked so much.

    Potland is putting plexi glass in between the drivers and passengers.

    Even in Montreal, they just get freaking brutalized.

  7. chuck says:

    This one is really nuts, the guy runs on the bus and just starts going crazy!

    I just don’t understand, this is so nuts!

  8. chuck says:

    Ok, this bus driver has just HAD IT!! He beats the crap out of his passenger for asking him too many questions.

    I’ve had a couple of customers I wanted to do this to, but NOT just for asking questions.

  9. Jimbo OPKS says:

    From the JOCO website below, it looks like Uncle Sugar was handing out money for bus stops and JOCO just couldn’t say no.

    Johnson County Transit currently has several ongoing construction projects that will improve access to transit and the experience of riding The JO:

    The new Mission Transit Center is under construction at 5251 Johnson Drive. This facility will serve as JCT’s primary transfer center (replacing 6000 Lamar). This project is part of the Kansas City Regional TIGER Award that is funding transit, bicycle, and pedestrian infrastructure improvements throughout the region.
    New Connex transit stations along Metcalf Avenue in Overland Park and along Martway and Johnson Drive in Mission. This project is also funded by TIGER and includes sidewalks, trails, and traffic signal improvements. Station locations include Rosana Square (119th Street), Metcalf South (95th Street), and Downtown Overland Park (80th & Marty). Route 556/856 – Metcalf-Plaza and Route 664 – Metcalf Downtown will serve these new facilities.
    Five popular Park & Ride lots in Overland Park and Olathe will have new transit stations for passengers of Routes 661, 670, 673. These improvements are funded by a grant from the Federal Transit Administration.

  10. harley says:

    the only positive thing isthat these construction projects bring in tons of
    tax revenue….create jobs…and these stupid projects bring in about
    1.25 in taxes for every dollar spent on the project…but can’t they find
    something better to do with this money…like fixa bridge or fix Metcalf…
    or do something that’s going to be a good project for the future…
    this is absurd…

  11. Snappietom says:

    As of this writing, I am sitting in a hotel lobby doing some work on my laptop and reading these comments. My flight from Atlanta back to Kansas City is in four hours.
    The distance from Perimeter Center to the airport would be roughly Overland Park to KCI. The hotel shuttle will take me to the MARTA station free. I buy a BREEZE card for $2.50 cents and in 40 mins, no traffic but about 10 stops I’m at the airport.
    Pretty good deal. I would rather turn this receipt in on my expense report to the company rather than a $75.00 taxi + tip. By the way, all types of people were riding the MARTA when I used it Sunday night on my in. Fact is, we need sometime of rail service in Kansas City. We have got to quit saying no to everything that moves are city forward.
    PS. And for the record, yes we need a new terminal. we are so outdated at KCI.
    PSS. By the way, it’s Johnson County Kansas, not freaking Beverly Hills, get over
    yourselves hayseeds.

  12. chuck says:

    This black man will NEVER get on MARTA.

  13. chuck says:

    Public transportation brings a risk of violence.

    It is what it is.

  14. Snappietom says:

    On my trip to the Airport on MARTA, it was 75% white people. Some going to the Braves game. others were on their way home and the rest going to the airport.

    Don’t trot out the violence card, that is a crock. Violence could happen anywhere, even
    jogging in a Johnson County park. There is a certain segment of older, ultra rightwingers that don’t want to pay for anything that is progressive. How sad.

  15. Raye says:

    Late to the party, but here at last. My husband rides the JO in from Olathe daily. He works by Crown Center and the bus is always full, both directions. The JO isn’t perfect but they work hard to meet the needs of a sprawling community. His company pays 60% of the cost for his monthly pass and I drop him at the bus stop on my way to work. It’s not a perfect system, but short of climate-controlled jet packs for all, nothing will be.

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