Kansas City Public Transport: Your Guide to Getting Around

April 12, 2021

Kansas City is known for its fountains, jazz, barbecue, and friendly people. This bustling city is a highlight of the midwest. Whether you’re visiting or moving to Kansas City, you’re probably starting to get excited about all there is to see and do.

However, as you’re making plans, you might run into this important question – How do you get around?

With a population of over 450,000 people spread over many different districts and counties, the type of transportation you use is going to depend a lot on where you’re going.

Don’t worry, whether you want to head to the Nelson Atkins, or downtown to the Power & Light District, we’ve got you covered with this Kansas City public transport guide.

Take the Bus

The buses, along with the city bikes and streetcars, are a part of RideKC. Using any one of these transportation options is easy with a RideKC pass or by using the app.

Bus rides are extremely affordable at only $1.50 depending on which route you take. The bus operates in the Kansas City metropolitan area and can take you just about anywhere you need to go. With a reach that extends into Waldo, this is the better option if you plan on exploring outside of the downtown area.

Kansas City might have a small-town feel, but it’s still a big city. That means that parking can often take a while, especially in high traffic areas. Even if you have a car, it can often be quicker to take the bus when you aren’t traveling long distances.
For example, if you want to get from downtown to the Country Club Plaza, take the Main MAX bus for a straight shot down Main Street. The MAX bus service arrives every 10-15 minutes and operates every day including holidays.

Remember to plan your routes ahead of time so you can get where you need to go in a timely manner. Check out the RideKC website for routes and schedules or plan your trip using the app.

Lastly, if you don’t want to sit in traffic during your bus ride, try to avoid rush hour trips that occur at around 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday or take one of the other transport options during this time, like the streetcar.

Ride the Streetcar

If you plan on primarily staying in the downtown area, the streetcar will be your best friend. This easy, hop-on-hop-off method of seeing the sights is free for everyone. Although it spans just two miles, the number of attractions situated near the streetcar makes this one of the best options for public transport in Kansas City.

With 16 stops along the tracks, you can hop off at any time and catch the next one in under 15 minutes.

Start your ride in Crown Center where you can walk to a vibrant shopping area, Union Station, and The National WWI Museum and Memorial. Try to plan your trip around one of the many festivals and exhibits held in this area throughout the year.

From there, take the streetcar up to the Crossroads District for a taste of Kansas City’s thriving artistic community.
This area is home to some of the best jazz clubs in the nation including the Green Lady Lounge. Be sure to check out the Crossroads District on the first Friday of the month for an endless supply of street music and food trucks.

From Crossroads, the streetcar zips through the Power & Light District, the go-to place for great food and drinks along with the biggest events held in the city. End your streetcar ride in the historic River Market District. Grab a coffee from one of the many local spots and take in the view of the Missouri River.

Don’t worry, even if you’re up late enjoying the nightlife, you may still be able to hop back on the streetcar with operating hours that extend until 1 a.m. all days except Sunday.

Go for a Bike Ride

Kansas City is an easily bikeable city with bike lanes located on most roads and scenic trails that extend through multiple districts. Rent a bike for the day for just $5 at any of the major electric bike hubs located around the city.

Kansas City is full of cyclers and drivers all over the city are accustomed to sharing the road. Just make sure you follow traffic guidelines and enjoy this active way to see the city and get some fresh air.

If you’re looking for a trail that can take you between two popular areas of KC, take a ride on the Trolley Track Trail. This tree-lined route will take you from the busy university center located near Volker Boulevard, all the way to the charming Brookside and Waldo.

Enjoy a ride through Loose Park located near the Country Club Plaza and make your way towards the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art in only 15 minutes. Although this method of transportation is weather-dependent, if you’re in Kansas City during a warm season, biking is the most refreshing way to get around.

Just download the Drop Mobility App to see where the closest electric bike is, and get riding!

Hop on a Scooter

If you’re not one for peddling, grab a scooter from the company ‘Bird’ and fly around the city. Make sure to stay off the sidewalks and be courteous to pedestrians while you zoom past. These scooters are extremely affordable for getting around. Just pay $1 to unlock them and ride around at only $0.15 cents per minute.

If you use the scooters regularly, consider purchasing a monthly or yearly membership through the app to save some money. Using electric scooters and bikes isn’t just a fun way to get around the city, it’s also environmentally friendly.

Additionally, it gives back to the community by offering compensation to “chargers” who can pick the scooters up, charge them from home, and drop them off at one of the many ports located around the city. Scooters can go up 15 miles per hour and offer an easy way to speed up your commute and save some energy.

Rent a Car

For more freedom to explore a wider area of Kansas City, consider renting a car. Most Kansas City residents get around by car especially if located outside of the city.

You can rent a car from a number of companies stationed at the Kansas City International Airport (MCI). Renting a car eliminates having to wait for a bus or streetcar and can often be the most efficient way to get around for longer trips.

If you’re moving to Kansas City, a car is most-likely a necessity and will open up the opportunity to explore all the nature and surrounding counties that aren’t accessible by public transportation.

Be sure to assess the parking situation if your heading to a crowded area. While it might be difficult to find a parking spot during busy hours, many businesses downtown validate parking for the central lots so you don’t have to pay!

Taxi Alternatives

When you’re just trying to get from point A to point B, using an app like Uber or Lyft might be the best option, especially if you’re traveling late at night or early in the morning.

Kansas City has operating taxi companies. However, the cheaper option is to use one of the ride apps. Keep in mind that prices will vary for these depending on demand. These ride apps don’t offer shared rides, however, so all rides will be private which means you can order them directly to your location.

Utilize Kansas City Public Transport for a Hassle-Free Way to Get Around

Navigating public transport in Kansas City is easy and efficient. This midwestern city will provide the charm of small-town America with the ease of big city transport. While a car might still be the best option if you’re going long distances, the Kansas City public transport will get you just about everywhere you need to go within the metropolitan area.

So whether you’re taking a trip to see the sights, or moving to a central location within the city, you can skip the cost of car maintenance and gas, and opt for the cost-effective, user-friendly busses, bikes, scooters, or streetcar.

If you’re planning a move to the city of fountains, check out our blog for tips on everything you need to know about moving to Kansas City and make the process easy by using one of our moving services to get you settled in.