Catch a ride to Arrowhead? A sorry bus stop almost wins a contest — highlighting the ignominy of taking public transportation to the game.
Chiefs fans will pay $40 at Arrowhead Stadium’s tollbooths this season — $10 more than last year’s price. Defending the increase, team officials have noted that parking passes bought online cost $30 and should save time at the gates as well.
Taking the bus to games is an option, but it’s not as easy as it used to be. After the 2008 season, the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority and Johnson County Transit canceled their game-day express routes.
Two KCATA routes — Nos. 28 and 47 — graze Truman Sports Complex along their normal routes. In 2014, the KCATA extended the hours of the 47 route. The buses run only once an hour after 6 p.m., but it’s at least feasible to attend a night game and not have to hire a taxi or summon Uber on the back end.
But saying that it’s possible to take public transportation to Truman Sports Complex is not to call the experience convenient. Or pleasurable. Or safe.
A bus stop near Kauffman Stadium recently “advanced” to the finals of a contest to find the “Sorriest Bus Stop in America.” The tournament was sponsored by a news site that covers transportation and livable communities, Streetsblog, which invited readers to submit “forlorn bus stops to call attention to the daily indignities and dangers that bus riders have to put up with.”
Brian Curran, a 30-year-old IT professional who lives in Boston, nominated a bus stop near Kauffman Stadium after visiting Kansas City last summer. Curran described the stop to Streetsblog as “very poorly lit and next to impossible to find after a game.” He was also appalled by the lack of crosswalks. “They clearly didn’t really think about anybody taking public transportation to attend anything that’s happening at the stadium,” he tells The Pitch.
Officials at the KCATA acknowledge that the bus stops near the stadiums are deficient. “The real challenge is the pedestrian environment, i.e. sidewalks,” KCATA spokeswoman Cindy Baker says in an e-mail. “Even a better bus stop (which there should be, agreed) needs the support of pedestrian access.”
Baker says the KCATA has had discussions with the city about building sidewalks at the sports complex, but there are no immediate plans. Sean Demory, a spokesman for the city’s public works department, says the city applied last year for federal funding to improve pedestrian access at transit stops. The request was not funded.
Jackson County owns the land on the stadium side of the Blue Ridge Cutoff. In 2006, the county, the Chiefs and the Royals agreed to new leases that asked taxpayers to provide $475 million for stadium renovations. The county officials who worked on the deal did not think to make sidewalks and other pedestrian-minded improvements part of the bargain, however. As a result, people who take public transportation to the games have experiences like the one Curran described.
The teams, meanwhile, make money off each car and truck that passes through the tollgates. The teams pay a small portion of the parking revenue — $4.51 on each vehicle at Chiefs games, 65 cents on each vehicle at Royals games — to the county’s trustee. The money flows back to teams through a fund set up for the maintenance management of their respective stadiums.
As for the sorriest-bus-stop tournament, Kansas City’s entry met a bus stop in Silver Spring, Maryland, in the finals. Streetsblog’s readers decided that the Silver Spring stop — described as a “tiny refuge next to a state highway with no crossing to protect pedestrians from speeding traffic” — was the easy winner.
As sports fans like to say, there’s always next year.
UPDATE: The story originally stated the Jackson County Sports Complex Authority collected the parking user fees. It was revised with a more precise description of the flow of the money, which totaled $1.2 million in 2015.