Trip Report: KC Transit

My recent trip to Kansas City involved a conference at a hotel which doesn’t have regular bus service, but can be reached by KCATA’s Metroflex. It’s a route-deviation service; you call 24 hours ahead and they drop you off at any point within the area served by the particular route. Unfortunately the Megabus terminal at 3rd and Grand is a distance from the 10th & Main Metroflex hub, but two or three KCATA routes make the connection even until fairly late at night.

Going to the conference hotel worked pretty well and I was dropped off right at the hotel entrance. Returning, the bus didn’t show on time, I called and was told that there was no record of my request but fortunately the bus was nearby and would be diverted. True enough, except that it drove around the hotel and didn’t come to the entrance. I ran after it, with luggage, managed to flag it down. Turns out that the small buses go to the hotel, but the big buses have to stay on the public street. I suppose locals learn to deal with this, just as Chicagoans learn that some of the announcements on the ‘L’ are incorrect because the operator pushed the wrong button, or the right button the wrong number of times, or was required to push the button even if it makes no sense.

Connecting back from Metroflex to Megabus, I got a brief ride on their version of BRT, known as MAX. Actually I had some trouble finding the Max stop, but downtown KC has lots of friendly homeless people and one of them showed me the way. The Max bus itself is something I’ve never seen, with low-floor bowling-alley seating on the right side and forward-facing seats on a raised platform on the left side of the bus.

KCATA doesn’t publish a system map, nor do they display one on their web site, but they were happy to mail me a more or less complete set of hardcopy schedules. Each schedule contains a map for that route, so it was possible to piece together how to get where I needed to go.