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Transportation

Why Kansas City’s Free Transit Experiment Matters

The Missouri city is the first major one in the U.S. to offer no-cost public transportation. Will a boost in subsidized mobility pay off with economic benefits?
Come on and take a free ride.
Come on and take a free ride.Orlin Wagner/AP

Kansas City, Missouri, made national headlines last week when its city council voted to make bus rides free, becoming the first major metropolis in the U.S. to provide no-fare public transit starting next year. The cost to the city will be $9 million, which is roughly what the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority brings in annually from the current $1.50 bus fares and $50 monthly passes.

The hope among lawmakers and transportation officials is that the city will recoup that expense, and more. By increasing mobility overall, KC is looking to boost economic activity. And proponents of the plan say that helping marginalized communities move around more easily will translate into deeper benefits.