U-Pass Program Wins Sustainability Award

Posted on: Dec 05, 2012

(Kansas City, Mo. – Dec. 5, 2012) The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) and the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) have recently been honored for their implementation of the U-Pass program, the first university transit pass in the region. The Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) has recognized KCATA and UMKC as part of the 2012 Sustainable Success Stories program.

UMKC students are able to ride The Metro and MAX with their student ID, in return for paying a universal student fee. Students have access to all 70 Metro routes, whether they are going to class or going out on the town. On-campus parking is a perennial student complaint, so the U-Pass offers an environmentally friendly, economical, easy way to get to campus. KCATA and UMKC have promoted the program through campus visits, student videos, social media, advertising and other outreach.

“U-Pass is popular with traditional and non-traditional students,” said KCATA General Manager Mark Huffer. “The positive experience that UMKC is enjoying is generating interest from other local colleges and universities. From creating a smaller environmental footprint to reducing the demand for on-campus parking, there are numerous benefits to this type of partnership.”

UMKC student ridership has contributed to growing Metro ridership. The program began in fall 2011, and Metro ridership for 2011 was up 5.7 percent. Ridership for the first half of 2012 is up 8.9 percent, in part due to new student riders. This program introduces transit to people at a time in their life when they are open to trying new things. In the 2011–2012 school year, the average weekday ridership was 730 students. To date, more than 3,000 unique students, and an estimated 1 in 7 students, has used the U-Pass.

Because the UMKC campus is centrally located and well served by transit, KCATA did not need to add extra routes to serve the students. The agency’s two MAX Bus Rapid Transit lines flank the east and west sides of the campus.

In an agreement approved by a student vote and by the University of Missouri Board of Curators, all students pay a fee that funds the U-Pass program and other campus transportation initiatives. This allows students to use their OneCard student ID as a bus pass by just swiping the ID through the fare box. In the 2011-2012 school year, $186,000 from student fees supported the program between UMKC and KCATA.

The annual Sustainable Success Stories awards from MARC highlight projects that that help create sustainable places and practices in the region. Sustainable places are vibrant, connected and green and incorporate reinvestment, transportation choices, housing choices, development in corridors and activity centers, design for healthier lifestyles, preservation of unique community characteristics, and resource conservation and energy efficiency.