Community Impact of Zero Fare Transit – The KCATA Story

In March 2020, KCATA implemented zero fare. This change has led to a positive change in perception of City leadership while enabling individuals to utilize money that would have been spent on transit to other essentials such as groceries, medicine, and rent. The program is showing positive improvements in the quality of life for area bus riders.

The UMKC Center for Economic Information (CEI) conducted a survey in July and August of 2021 for the Urban League of Kansas City (ULKC). The purpose of the survey was to collect data to contribute to the publication of an analysis of the effects on quality-of-life of Zero Fare. A total of 1,686 surveys were collected during this process. The vast majority of respondents were very satisfied with the Zero Fare program, reporting that it has led to a considerable improvement in their quality-of-life.

The surveyed riders were overwhelmingly working class with a majority having an individual yearly income of less than $20,000. Most riders reported that they did not have access to a working car, and the majority do not have a valid driver’s license, highlighting the importance of public transportation for Kansas City’s working-class.

A number of quality-of-life and demographic questions were asked. All questions received exceptionally high combined agreement (Strongly Agree + Agree) ranging from 79.24% for the lowest, to 91.99% for the highest. A sampling of the questions are below:

“The ability to ride the bus free has…”

  • allowed me to shop for food or other essentials more often. (91.99%)
  • increased my use of the bus. (89.80%)
  • helped me to get or keep employment. (81.97%)
  • allowed me to see my doctor or other healthcare provider easier or more often. (88.49%)
  • made me feel that Kansas City leaders are concerned about my needs. (86.24%)

The entire State of Black Kansas City report can be found here: State of Black KC | A Leading Report on Race &White Supremacy — ulkc