Because Kansas City’s core spreads out over four counties and the greater Kansas City area encompasses 18 counties, driving is the best option in order to see as much of Kansas City as possible. Only one of five U.S. cities connected by three interstates, Kansas City’s wealth of highway access makes getting to outlying areas a (relatively) quick drive.
The average commute time is 20.7 minutes; if possible, avoid major interstates and highways during the week’s morning (7:30 to 9 a.m.) and evening (4:30 to 6 p.m.) rush hours.
I-435 forms one giant loop around the city; although it would take several hours to make the whole loop, staying on I-435 will eventually get you where you need to go. I-70 is the major east–west thoroughfare that connects Kansas City’s main county, Jackson, with its Kansas counterpart, Wyandotte, and also leads to two of the suggested day trips: Rocheport to the east and Lawrence to the west. I-35 is the bridge between the Northland and Johnson County, and these three highways, in addition to I-670, I-29, U.S. 71, U.S. 24, U.S. 40, and U.S. 169, form a multi-highway loop that encircles downtown before branching out in various directions.
Although city leaders are working to add more bike paths and lanes, most bicyclists agree that Kansas City is not a terribly bike-friendly city. Bicycling through downtown, Westport, and the Plaza offers great views of the city, but navigating traffic and city buses can be difficult.
If you’re eager to experience a road ride while you’re in Kansas City, get in touch with one of several bicycling clubs including Kansas City Bike Club, Earth Riders, and Johnson County Bike Club for information about group rides and other bicycling-related events.
For trail rides, try the Mid-America Regional Council’s MetroGreen, an interconnected system of public and private greenways and trails that winds over 1,144 miles throughout the metropolitan area. MetroGreen is a modern take on Kansas City’s parks and boulevard system that began in the early 1900s and “identifies more than 75 separate corridors that will form a regional network to connect many of the area’s most valuable natural assets,” according to MARC. Visit their website (www.marc.org/metrogreen) to download a PDF map of the complete MetroGreen trail system.
For the most part, taxis are prevalent throughout downtown, Midtown, Westport, and the Plaza. Sporadically located taxi stands are an ideal place to hail a cab, especially Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings. Your hotel concierge will be happy to arrange taxi transportation, or if you’d prefer to make your own reservation, call any of the following cab companies and a car will meet you within 10 to 20 minutes, depending on call volume. Try Yellow Cab of Kansas City (1300 Lydia Ave., 816/471-5000, www.kctg.com), Atlas Cab Company (303 Broadway Ave., 816/421-2999), or Crosstown Cab Company (1001 Spruce Ave., 816/241-6500).
An ongoing debate swirls around Kansas City’s public transportation and, in some opinions, lack thereof. Light rail is consistently a hot-button issue, with proposals that tout a light rail line from the Kansas City Zoo to the Northland. The debilitating expense of, and planning flaws related to, the light rail continue to prevent any forward movement, although local champions are reluctant to give up the fight.
The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority operates several bus lines that run throughout the metro area on more than 70 routes. If you’re riding through downtown, Midtown, Westport, and the Plaza, look for Metro stations or opt to use the Park & Ride Metro Center (3rd and Grand Sts.) in the City Market, from which you can access several bus routes. KCATA also operates MAX, the city’s first bus rapid-transit system that uses fewer stops in order to guarantee faster arrival times. MAX serves downtown, Crown Center, Midtown, and the Plaza, and the glass stations are easily recognizable.
Exact change is required for both the Metro and MAX bus services, although bus tickets can be purchased online. The regular bus fare is $1.50. Visitors can also purchase a three-day pass for $10 that’s good for unlimited rides on three consecutive days. Visit www.kcata.org for a complete set of route maps, schedules, updated fares, and pertinent rider bulletins.
Kansas City International Airport offers curbside terminal assistance, including wheelchair reservations, that are arranged through the airline. KCI buses that provide shuttle service to and from the various parking lots are equipped with wheelchair lifts and kneeling capability, and all high-traffic areas of KCI can be accessed by elevators, located near the escalators. KCI also offers TTY at all pay phone locations, Braille signage, and visual paging monitors with taxi and security alert information.
All KCATA Metro buses are equipped with wheelchair lifts or low-floor ramps. Service animals are permitted on buses, and priority seating is available at the front of the bus. Disabled persons also qualify for reduced bus fare with either a Metro Reduced Farecard or a reduced fare monthly pass. For information, call 816/221-0660.
For disabled passengers who cannot ride wheelchair-accessible buses, KCATA offers comparable paratransit that provides door-to-door service with vans or cabs. To qualify, the passenger must be certified as ADA Eligible. For more information and to schedule a ride, call Share-A-Fare in Kansas City at 816/346-0810. In Wyandotte County, including Kansas City, Kansas, contact Dial-A-Ride at 913/573-8351.
© Katy Ryan from Moon Kansas City, 1st Edition