In 2018, Health Forward Foundation was approached by Kansas City Area Transit Authority (KCATA) to assist in convening health and social service nonprofit organizations to discuss transportation.
As a result, KCATA hosted two roundtable discussions at Health Forward’s office. In attendance were representatives from KCATA, as well as several past and present Health Forward Foundation grantees that coordinate the high use of public transportation via the purchasing of one-ride, one-day bus passes for their respective consumers.
Robbie Makinen, the president/CEO of KCATA, facilitated the meetings. During these discussions, representatives from area nonprofits shared current practices used to address transportation needs of consumers, as well as the ongoing transportation challenges they and their consumers experience.
Mr. Makinen then introduced his vision of “moving to zero” – offering free public bus transportation to all and the concept of creating opportunities for KCATA and those organizations in attendance to partner in finding mobility solutions.
KCATA and organizations in attendance proposed a pilot program that would include an annual bus pass structure (replacing one-ride, one-day passes) that is accessible by the consumers of those organizations.
On Aug. 1, many of those organizations will represent the first cohort of KCATA’s RideKC Opportunity Pass. Cost reduction for organizations, improved health care access for consumers, and program expansion are the immediate goals of RideKC Opportunity Pass, with the long-term goal of creating a sustainable public transit structure that allows for reduced or free public transportation for the underserved.
KCATA will hold a kick-off event at 10 a.m. on July 26, 2019, to announce RideKC Opportunity Pass. The event will take place at Kauffman Center, in the Kansas City Room, and Mayor-Elect Lucas will participate, along with several safety net providers.
Health Forward values being a thought partner to address issues that impact health; this includes working with and convening community partners to creatively find solutions to complex issues such as access to quality health care.
We value our partnership with KCATA and admire the agency’s tenacity to initiate and further conversations about transportation barriers. KCATA has demonstrated the ability to think creatively and collectively to find solutions to complex, but all-too-familiar challenges to those most in need.
Because of KCATA and the breadth of important and committed organizations in our community, we are optimistic these collaborations and conversations will ultimately lead to better health outcomes for our communities.