MCC students are using the new student benefit called U-Pass so much that the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority expanded bus service in the Northland.
Starting this school year, all credit students enrolled at one of the five Metropolitan Community College campuses can use their student ID as a free RideKC bus pass. The U-Pass program is a partnership between MCC and KCATA.
The U-Pass program has seen student ridership blossom so much near the MCC-Maple Woods campus that KCATA added new evening routes.
Classes started Aug. 22. By October, MCC U-Pass rides were averaging 1,036 a day citywide. In total, since the beginning of the school year, MCC students have taken 60,408 free rides thanks to the U-Pass program.
As a result of the demand, KCATA in early October added three RideKC northbound trips and five southbound trips to the 38-Meadowbrook evening route, which runs from downtown through North Kansas City and Gladstone.
The expansion brought added service to the more than 4,600 students enrolled at MCC-Maple Woods.
“We are thrilled that the MCC partnership with KCATA continues to expand to serve the students at MCC-Maple Woods and citizens in the Northland,” said Shelley Temple Kneuvean, MCC’s vice chancellor for financial and administrative services.
“We are very excited about partnering with MCC to provide new transportation alternatives to students, especially at a time of the day when public transportation hasn’t been available,” said Robbie Makinen, president and chief executive officer of KCATA.
“Job success starts with school success, which is why this partnership is so important to the community,” Maniken added.
Toni Stillions is a freshman at MCC-Maple Woods. She said she enrolled in classes this year because of the new partnership.
“I don’t have a car,” Stillions said. “I could not attend college until this service was provided. I use the service every day, and now with the extra routes, I can stay on campus and study even longer and take the bus home at night.”
Stillions, who’s planning to earn a veterinary assistance certificate, said she doesn’t have Internet at home, so the extra hours on campus are helpful. She makes flash cards so she can study on the bus.
Zonara Nawaz is a sophomore working on her associate degree in biology at MCC-Maple Woods. She wants to continue on to medical school and hopes to be a psychiatrist, perhaps for a law enforcement agency.
Nawaz, who moved to Kansas City from Pakistan three years ago, lives close to the Plaza and says, “I do not feel comfortable driving, so i ride the bus.” Like Stillions, she too uses her travel time to study.
The unlimited bus service is a two-year pilot program and partnership between MCC and the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority that began in August 2016.
The U-Pass provides MCC credit students with free, unlimited access to all RideKC transit, including bus service operated by KCATA, Johnson County and Independence.
MCC has about 18,000 students a semester attending five campuses on the Missouri side of the Kansas City area, including the Northland, Independence and Lee’s Summit.