Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

The Kansas City Council unanimously voted Thursday to make public transit in the city free of charge. (Photo: Paul Sableman/Flickr/cc)

'Now Let's Do This Everywhere': Kansas City, Missouri Approves Free Public Transit for All

Measure championed as "visionary" way to reduce inequality and better serve everyone in the community.

Julia Conley

Lawmakers in Kansas City, Missouri took a "visionary step" on Thursday by unanimously voting to make public transportation in the city free of charge, setting the stage for it to be the first major U.S. city to have free public transit.

The Kansas City Council voted to direct the city manager to set aside $8 million to eliminate the $1.50 per ride fare that currently applies to the city's bus system.

Some frequent riders could save about $1,000 per year under the new plan, according to KCUR, the city's public radio station.

"It'd help me out a lot," college student Michael Mumford, who rides the city's buses at least once per day, told the station. "Put some change in my pocket…buy some books for class."

The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority also expressed approval, with CEO Robbie Makinen telling KCUR that residents will be able to put the money they save on transportation toward other necessities, boosting the economy.

The city still needs to work out details of the proposal, including how it will be funded and where that money will come from, according to local news station KSHB.

Supporters of the measure on social media pointed out that free public transit could have positive impacts on economic inequality, the city's efforts to fight the climate crisis, and mass incarceration—as other cities, like New York, are cracking down on public transit fare evasion.

Free public transit has been shown to drastically reduce automobile use and emissions elsewhere, such as in Tallinn, Estonia, wrote economic researcher Curtis Myers.

City council member Eric Bunch, who co-sponsored the measure, told the local press that he aims to help marginalized communities access the city.

"When we're talking about improving people's lives who are our most vulnerable citizens, I don't think there's any question that we need to find that money," Bunch said.

"I don't want to do it for any sort of national recognition, I want to do it because it's the right thing to do, I believe that people have a right to move about this city," he told KCUR.

The move did win national recognition, with lawmakers in other large cities praising the initiative and saying they aimed to push for similar programs for their constituents.

"Now let's do this everywhere," tweeted Matt Haugen, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America environmental steering committee.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

As Progressives Call for End to Blockade, Biden Announces More Sanctions Against Cuba

The move comes after Democratic leadership in the House blocked an amendment to roll back limits on how much money people in the United States can send to family on the island nation.

Jessica Corbett ·


Progressives Issue Dire Warning as House Bill to Extend Eviction Moratorium Dies

"If Congress does not act now, the fallout of the eviction crisis will undoubtedly set us backwards as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to ravish our communities, needlessly contributing to more death and destruction."

Brett Wilkins ·


Citing Donziger Case, Dems Raise Alarm About Use of Private Prosecutors in Federal Court

Private prosecutions of criminal contempt charges, said a pair of senators, "are highly unusual and can raise concerning questions of fundamental fairness in our criminal justice system."

Jessica Corbett ·


'About Damn Time': DOJ Says Treasury Department Must Give Trump's Tax Returns to Congress

"This case is now bigger even than Donald Trump's crimes. Neither the courts, nor the machinery of our government, exist to bodyguard a corrupt private citizen from transparency."

Jake Johnson ·


'Just Say That the Election Was Corrupt,' Trump Told DOJ in December

"It was a failed coup. Call it what it was. It didn't work! But they sure as hell tried."

Kenny Stancil ·