It sounds like a great idea, but in its first two years the IndeBus just hasn’t worked.

It sounds like a great idea, but in its first two years the IndeBus just hasn’t worked.

Only 21 riders hopped aboard during the first four weeks of service during this holiday season, getting around among the shopping areas near Interstate 70 and Missouri 291.

That’s right – 21. It works out to $1,361 per rider. When the number was painfully low last year – 48 riders – it could at least be chalked up to a slow start in a program’s first year. But this year’s figures are disheartening.

For one thing, we really wonder if many shoppers – or the merchants who also stand to benefit – are aware of the free service. That needs to be addressed if the service is maintained.

Any changes have to go through some hoops. For one thing, the taxpayers have already laid money on the table for this service in the form of the extra-half cent sales tax they pay when they shop in a “community improvement district” that includes most of the businesses in that part of town. The agreement that set up that district, in conjunction with building the Independence Events Center, requires the holiday bus service.

That can be changed, but it takes times and requires a public review and debate. That $28,600 needs to go somewhere to the public’s benefit.

As we say, the idea would seem to make sense. Instead of a bunch of five- and 10-minute drives from Independence Center to the Eastland Center to Independence Commons to Hartman Heritage to Bolger Square – you could almost walk if you weren’t weighed down with merchandise and we weren’t so wedded to our cars – just hop on a small bus. But shoppers have other ideas. The city needs to either find a way to raise the program’s profile and make it work – or just try something else. Individual sleighs equipped with reindeer and driver would be cheaper.