Beginning May 1, 2017, the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA), in partnership with Transdev, will roll out an app-based public transit service called RideKC Freedom On-Demand. This one-year pilot enables customers to call on taxis any day, at any hour, to enjoy everything Kansas City has to offer.

“We can’t solve all of our transportation needs with a big 40-foot bus,” said Robbie Makinen, KCATA president/CEO. “That’s why KCATA is continuing to innovate and work collaboratively with the private sector to provide the best mobility solutions for the region, whether that’s a bus, a streetcar, a taxi or a bike.”

RideKC Freedom On-Demand is a new app-based transit option that begins with a strong core service for persons with disabilities and builds out to provide fast, affordable cab rides for everyone. Scheduling can be done when it’s convenient and does not have to be done a day in advance like the current paratransit system requires. Customers can pay with credit or debit cards in the app or in the vehicle, as well as cash in the vehicle, and they can even get change. There is a call-in option for those who do not use smartphones.

“RideKC Freedom is unique in that the service concept was created first to better serve persons with disabilities, and then build out for everyone,” said Makinen, who lost his sight nearly five years ago and became dependent on public transportation. “Traditionally, transit agencies create service for the masses and then try to figure out how to serve persons with disabilities. We have done the opposite here.”

RideKC Freedom On-Demand starts May 1 as a one-year pilot serving an area north of the river and an area south of the river. Customers must start their trip within the designated area to qualify for the ADA reduced fares. If their trip takes them out of the service area, they will pay regular a slightly higher fare on the return trip.

Customers can download the RideKC Freedom On-Demand app from the Google Play store or the Apple App Store. ADA customers have a personal paratransit number that identifies them as certified ADA customers so they are charged the lower ADA fare. All other customers using the app won’t have an authorization code, and will simply pay the required cab fare.

A single fare enables customers to bring three guests with them at no additional charge. As an added bonus: a portion of the regularly priced fares on non-ADA trips will be returned to KCATA by its taxi partner, Transdev, to reinvest in transit service.

ADA customers will pay just $3 for the first eight miles in the service areas and $2 for every mile after that. Non-ADA customers 65 years of age and older, will pay $5 for the first eight miles in the service areas and $2 for every mile after that. All general public customers will pay $10 for the first five miles and $2 for every mile after that, which is similar to other ride hailing services.