Missouri’s Public Transportation System

Missouri’s public transportation network consists of the following highway-based systems and light rail programs:


For purposes of funding, the FTA classifies urban systems as being those which serve areas having urbanized populations of 50,000 or more. In Missouri, there are seven urban areas in this class which have local transit systems: St. Louis · Kansas City · Springfield · Columbia · St. Joseph · Jefferson City · Joplin
Passengers using these urban systems are transported mainly on buses operating on fixed routes and fixed schedules however, most of these systems also offer specialized services for elderly and disabled persons who cannot effectively use their regular buses.

The State’s nonurban areas (rural areas and small towns and cities of less than 50,000 population) are served by numerous public transportation systems. There are two regional systems: OATS, Inc., which serves 85 counties, and the Southeast Missouri Transportation System, Inc. (SMTS), which serves 20 counties. There are also nine county-wide systems. In addition, there are 19 towns / cities and not-for-profit organizations, and two university systems, that offer some form of enhanced transportation service, whether it be in the form of city buses, taxi coupon programs, or intercity bus assistance. Public transportation is available in all nonurban areas of the state though it may be limited in days and hours of service.


Transportation services for the elderly and disabled are available in all of the State’s 114 counties and in the independent city of St. Louis. Much of the service for the elderly and disabled are provided by the single-county and multi-county systems, such as OATS and SMTS. Additionally elderly and disabled services are provided by most of the urban and small urban area transit systems. For example, Bi-State in St. Louis and the Metro system in Kansas City both have lift-equipped buses in regular route service, as well as door-to-door service provided by specially equipped vans.

Transportation assistance is provided as part of ongoing human service programs offered by state and local agencies throughout Missouri. Clients, often because of financial limitations or physical disability need transportation assistance. Assistance can be in the form of cash reimbursements, by contracting with public or private providers (e.g. taxicab companies), or by agency-operated transportation services.

Taxicab service is available in cities and rural areas throughout the State, operated by private companies or individual owners/drivers. Fleet sizes vary from one or two vehicles to several hundred. Most communities with populations of 5,000 or more, and many with smaller populations, have taxicab service. In general, urban districts have better taxicab service than do rural areas. Companies usually prefer to serve relatively small geographic areas that are densely populated, since this is the most productive and profitable type of operation. Most companies will respond to requests from rural areas. However, in such cases the fares are relatively high and response time is substantially longer than typically experienced in urban areas.


St. Louis: The St. Louis system, called Metro Link, consists of an 18-mile line that connects Lambert Airport with downtown St. Louis and then across the Mississippi River to East St. Louis, Illinois. The 18-mile corridor has 18 stations serving a number of major centers.
Kansas City: The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority is developing plans to implement Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in the high density travel corridor previously identified as the preferred initial route for a regional Light Rail system. The route extends from Kansas City’s Missouri River waterfront area called the River Market, through downtown to the Country Club Plaza. Some existing major bus routes operating along this corridor would be consolidated under the plan, providing less complicated but more convenient bus service. BRT will feature new, advanced design buses with a unique paint scheme for ease of identification, traffic signal priority, special BRT station stops with real time schedule information, and other amenities. The initial BRT route is estimated to cost in the range of $25 to $40 million. It is slated to begin operation in late 2004 or early 2005.


Two universities in Missouri receive FTA funding assistance to provide campus transportation service. Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau receives Section 5311 federal funds. Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield receives both Section 5307 and 5309 federal funds to provide shuttle bus service to transport students, faculty, staff and the general public around the school campuses.