Expansion plan for The JO could add traffic through Mission Transit Center

Evening bus service at the Mission Transit Center between Johnson Drive and Martway this week.
Evening bus service at the Mission Transit Center between Johnson Drive and Martway this week.

By Sophie Tulp, shawneemissionpost.com intern

A proposal to expand bus service in Johnson County could mean more traffic through the Mission Transit Center next year.

The additional bus service on The JO, if approved by the county, could come in the form of an expanded route from Wyandotte County that runs to the University of Kansas Hospital. A line that runs along 75th Street from Metcalf into Kansas City also could mean additional service across Prairie Village.

In February, the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority merged with Johnson County Transit, which operates The JO, for management efficiency and savings

Johnson County is just the latest addition to the KCATA, which is responsible for planning, constructing and operating transportation systems within seven counties between Kansas and Missouri, and has contracts with 12 communities including Kansas City, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo.

The Johnson County Transportation Council this month made a “Request for Additional Resources” to the county commissioners. If approved, it would expand service on route 107 from Wyandotte County to the Mission Transit Center, as well as expand the Metcalf/75th Street route into northeast Johnson County.

Currently, The JO operates 15 bus routes throughout Johnson County and the metro area, but primarily takes people to and from work in the downtown district, with limited service within the county. However, this expansion —  an increase in the number of trips and stops the route makes per day — could offer up to eight additional trips in the morning and evening into the Mission Transit center on Johnson Drive.

According to Alice Amrein, Director of Transportation for The JO, this particular route marked for expansion begins in Wyandotte and passes through The University of Kansas Hospital, allowing people easier access to work and health care.

In addition, route 575 along 75th Street and Metcalf would expand to offer “a couple” more trips in the morning and evening, Amrein says.

The 175 bus, a route that runs from Ward Parkway and goes down Metcalf south of 95th Street, could also get expanded morning hours. This bus currently stops its service in Johnson County at 9:30 a.m.

“[The proposal request is] to provide better connections, ease of transfer for mobility, employment and [access] to medical and education facilities,” Amrein said. “It is to provide expanded opportunities for people traveling in and out of Johnson County.”

“We think this is a good option to creating a grid system within Johnson County,” Amrein said.

Amrein says this expansion is just the beginning of an effort to create a more accessible public transportation grid that could someday make Johnson County part of a regional system.