Photo credit: People of Cowtown
Last week, Think Big Coworking hosted Jenny O’Brien from the Mid-America Regional Council for our monthly Member Happy Hour. We had a great turnout and many members and guests were able to hear Jenny speak about RideShare KC and explore the multitude of options Kansas City offers for commuting to and from work. After the event, we asked Jenny some questions to learn more about RideShare KC.
Q: What are all the options available now and in the immediate future for Think Big Coworking members when it comes to public/mass/alternative transit?
A: Kansas City is experiencing a sea change in the way people get around the city. In the past, the only options were a private car or public bus. But now there is a burgeoning ecosystem of options that together make it easier than ever to leave your car at home. Here are the choices available right now for Think Big Coworking members:
- The new Kansas City Streetcar runs every 10-15 minutes from the River Market to Union Station. Hop on at the Kauffman Center stop on Main Street at 16th. Streetcar is free.
- RideKC bus service has many routes serving downtown. Use the trip planner at ridekc.org to see bus options and schedules and purchase transit passes.
- Carpooling is a great way to travel, especially if you are driving long distances. Find carpool partners and more at ridesharekc.org. This regional ridematching website has over a thousand active users.
- Bike to work and find trails and paths on MARC’s Regional Trails and Bikeways map. Or rent a bike for a short ride from Kansas City B-Cycle.
- Get peace of mind when you use alternative transportation – sign up for MARC’s Guaranteed Ride Home program for a free emergency taxi ride home up to twice a year.
- See these and more publicly available options at marc.org/KCTripOptions.
Q: Other than the obvious environmental and economic advantages, what is the real impact of these alternatives on the entrepreneurial community in the metro area? Do they help bridge some gaps?
A: One major advantage of alternative transportation, especially transit and carpooling, is the ability to recapture productive time that would otherwise be spent behind the wheel. For example, all metro buses are now equipped with Wi-Fi, so travel time can also be work time.
Additionally, Companies that encourage alternatives can significantly reduce their parking needs, and a burgeoning ecosystem of transportation options in the downtown can help a growing company attract those young urban professionals who may prefer not to own a car.
Q: What is the big plan? What are the most exciting things coming to the area in terms of alternative ways of commuting?
A: One exciting new arrival is the fleet of Zipcars coming soon to the downtown area. Zipcar members can reserve a car for short term rentals – a good choice for middle of the day business trips. Research shows that one Zipcar can take the place of up to thirteen private vehicles, which makes it even easier to reduce the number of cars in the heart of downtown.
Also coming in 2017 is the RideKC transit app which will allow users to plan a trip using different modes of travel like bus and bikeshare, and pay for the trip within the app. A tracking function will show real time arrival information so you can see if you have time for one more email before your bus arrives.
The astonishing popularity and success of the streetcar has paved the way for the next leg. Plans are under way to extend the line south to Westport, the Plaza and the UMKC campus.
Q: What is the current role of the MARC around these, and what will it be in the future?
A: Mid-America Regional Council provides transportation planning and other services that cross state, county and city boundaries. The Mid-America Regional Council RideShare program helps workers find alternatives to a drive-alone commute in order to protect our air quality and reduce congestion. We are always happy to help Think Big members understand their options, plan their alternative commutes, find commute partners, and more.
In addition, every summer, RideShare sponsors the Green Commute Challenge where teams compete to win prizes by logging their alternative transportation trips. During the 2016 Challenge which ended August 31, 44 teams logged over 45,000 trips and together reduced driving by nearly 600,000 miles! See our collective impact:
Q: Finally, what did you think of Think Big Coworking and of the people you met here yesterday?
A: It was a real pleasure to visit Think Big at the Happy Hour last Thursday. The space is gorgeous and I found the member community to be the most engaged and interested audience I have spoken to yet. They seemed genuinely curious about alternatives to driving and willing to try something new –not surprising for a crowd of entrepreneurs and innovators. I even had a few conversations about the potential for innovation in transportation – a field which is experiencing major disruption right now and ripe for change.
Thanks so much for inviting me to join your Happy Hour! See you on the road.
Questions? Call RideShare at 816.842.7433 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.