MAXimum Sweetness

The name of a movie? Perhaps. Something Napoleon Dynamite might say? Possibly. The general way that my mind thinks about things? Assuredly. But today I'd rather use the phrase to explain my experience riding Kansas City's new Metro Area Express (Max). The Max is our new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line that runs from 3rd and Grand to the Plaza – with half of the buses running all the way out to Waldo.

Since this city has such a damned hard time in passing anything that would bring a in light rail system (and connect all the 'burbs together – wouldn't that be something?), the Max is a potential first step in that direction.

The buses are all completely new and are outfitted with GPS units, so that at certain stops, you know exactly (rather, approximately) how long it'll be before the bus arrives. But most signs point to the Max staying on schedule – since all buses are equipped with devices that make stop lights stay green longer. There's also "dedicated bus lanes" during rush hour, but they're nothing compared to the lanes in other cities. Now I'm just repeating what you can read on their site (see above link).

Today, being the first day of service, I decided to give the Max a try since I planned on taking it to work tomorrow. Surprisingly, there were about 10 patrons on the bus, heading South-bound from the City Market. It took 9 minutes to get to the Crossroads district, where I'll get off for work. But I continued on to the Plaza, just to see where all the stops are. 22 minutes after I got on the bus, I was at the Plaza and walking around. That's nice.

The buses were real clean, one would hope since they're brand new, and the drivers were psuedo-nice. The second bus I was on didn't seem 100% finished inside. There was only one route map, at the front, and there was no sweet-soundin' lady announcing all of the stops. Maybe there's some work to do. Also, I noticed that not all of the stops have been completed either, no biggie.

All in all, very neat. I felt like I was actually in a big(ger) city. And while I was riding, and looking at the route map, I could only think of what a good idea this is for tourists in any of the main sections of town. They can get a day pass for $3 and hit all the spots from River Market to the Plaza. And just think about when the new Entertainment District opens downtown. Sheesh.

On the bus, you can grab a Max schedule booklet. The back page of the booklet is dedicated to Fare Information. It's pretty easy to understand – $1 for a fare ($.50 for youth, Medicare Cardholders, senior citizens and disabled persons), $3 all day pass, and if you pay more than the fare costs you'll be issued a Metro Charge Card with the remainder of your overage carried as a balance. Pretty simple, eh?

But what about us who would like to get the Metro Monthly Swipe Pass? Here's what they have to say on the brochure:

Monthly Swipe Passes are sold at more than 30 locations. If your bus pass does not cover the full fare, you must pay the difference in cash.
  1. 30 locations? Awesome. Where?
  2. How much does it cost?
  3. What do you mean "if it doesn't cover the full fare?" IT'S A MONTHLY PASS! IT SHOULD COVER EVERY FARE!! FOR AN ENTIRE MONTH!!!

Baby steps, Seth... baby steps. At least there's the Max Pub Crawl this Friday!

+ original post date: July 24, 2005 04:07 PM
+ categories: KC


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That makes me so happy! Thanks for trying it out and reporting back to us. (And for the links!) We're headed in good directions...

+ author: wendy
+ posted: July 26, 2005 03:03 AM

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