President Joe Biden praises Kansas City’s ‘zero fare’ transit system, electric buses

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President Joe Biden on Wednesday praised Kansas City’s decision to make its buses free and its goal of having an emissions-free fleet.

“Zero fare, zero emission ... Congressman, great idea,” Biden said to Missouri Rep. Emanuel Cleaver during a speech at the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority.

Kansas City eliminated bus fares for service from the KCATA last year, making it part of the city’s budget. A spokesman for Cleaver said the congressman has general worked with the KCATA to expand the program and is supportive of transiting to electric and zero-emission buses.

RideKC also added two 40-foot electric buses to its fleet earlier this year as part of the KCATA’s push to be “zero fare, zero emissions.”

As of June, of the 250 vehicles currently in the transportation authority’s fleet, two-thirds were operated by compressed natural gas. Seven years ago, the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority board passed a resolution to replace diesel vehicles with compressed natural gas buses in an effort to reduce emissions.

“Electric is the next step in that progression to clean transit vehicles,” Richard Jarrold, KCATA senior vice president, has previously said.

KCATA executive officer Robbie Makinen previously said the zero emissions and free bus fare create social equity by providing access to jobs, education, health care and housing.

“I think that’s the way to go, right? If we can get people out of their cars and ride public transit, but then do it in an efficient, safe, environmentally friendly way, why wouldn’t we do that?” Makinen said at a press conference in June.

The Star’s Farrah Mina and Katie Bernard contributed reporting

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