Changes are likely coming for the main bus line connecting Independence and Kansas City, with the aim of improved and more frequent service, but on an altered route.

Currently the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority has a couple of MAX lines running north and south in the busiest corridors of Kansas City. Independence Mayor Eileen says she and Sugar Creek Mayor Mike Larson are working on converting the U.S. 24 route to that level of service.

That has lots of advantages: more frequent buses – every 10 minutes – that make fewer stops, so overall faster service. Also, riders would enjoy bus stop shelters – something woefully lacking in Independence – and even Wi-Fi.

All of that is designed to make the bus a more viable and more convenient choice for commuters.

“It’s about getting people to work, and it’s about getting ridership,” Weir said.

That route is from the Square to downtown Kansas City, running along Lexington Avenue and Winner Road much of the time. Officials are looking at keeping that, switching to Truman Road or switching to U.S. 24, still terminating near the Square, where it connects with IndeBus.

Truman and 24 each have advantages, Weir said, though she’s leaning toward 24, citing access to the Truman Library and William Chrisman High School, which could, for instance, mean access for adult education classes.

“The part that really excites me is the opportunity it gives us for transit-oriented development,” she said, though she noted challenges such as the general lack of sidewalks on 24. As transit planners will tell you, those seemingly little things add up and make a difference.

The city is addressing several of these issues, too. It’s about to extend IndeBus service a couple hours later into the evening. Also, when the voters re-approved the sales tax for streets, they created a new stream of money for curbs and sidewalks, starting in 2020. The mayor points out that the city has never funded that before. So I’d call that progress.

I had touched on metro transit issues in this space a couple weeks ago, even raising the highly theoretical idea that perhaps one day Eastern Jackson County could see the benefits of something like the streetcar line that has goosed investment and development in downtown Kansas City.

The mayor reached out in response, and it’s clear that she is looking beyond that.

“What we’re really thinking about is autonomous vehicles,” she told me this week.

She makes a fair point. By the time a streetcar or light rail were eventually built this far east, driving patterns would likely have shifted sharply. Shoot for what tomorrow looks like instead.

 

Quick hits

 

Lion’s Choice and its roast beef sandwiches are still headed for Independence sometime later this year. The company, based in St. Louis, said it plans to move a food truck to “the Independence area” starting this month, and it’s shooting for a September opening of its restaurant. That had been planned for the area near Menards on Little Blue Parkway, but the company says it hasn’t settled on a site just yet. … Blue Springs continues to tear it up in single-family home construction. The Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City says the lousy weather this spring slowed construction, which is down 6 percent metrowide through April, compared with 2017. But Blue Springs, having issued 195 permits to build single-family homes, is up 139 percent and still sits at No. 2 among all metro cities, behind No. 1 Kansas City, which continues to ride strong growth north of the river. Independence, with 66 permits and No. 8 in the metro area, also is up sharply. Grain Valley, with 32 permits, is up a notable 14 percent.

Jeff Fox is The Examiner’s editor. Reach him at 816-350-6365 or jeff.fox@examiner.net. He’s on Twitter at @FoxEJC and @Jeff_Fox.