Sharon Parker uses the bus to get around town. She says she walks an hour to her bus stop and has to leave her house at 10 a.m. to get to work at 2 p.m. Parker says that even though she leaves that early, often the bus is late, making her late to work. 

Parker joined fellow bus riders, concerned citizens, and dozens of young activists with Sunrise Movement KC who gathered Sept 21 on the steps of Kansas City Hall for a rally.

The group demands substantial investments toward a modern, frequent, green, safe, and reliable public bus system for the city. The Sunrise Movement KC organizers are pushing for a robust bus network that not only expands economic opportunities but also addresses the pressing issue of emissions that affect climate change.

At the rally, the group released a list of six demands, which they say are based on the lived experiences of their leaders and extensive conversations with other bus riders. The group is pressuring city hall to institute their “Better Buses for KC” demands by 2025.

The Demands

  • Accessibility: Every Kansas City resident should live within a ten-minute walk of a fast, frequent, and reliable bus line.
  • Timeliness: Buses must run on a tight schedule, arriving every 15 minutes without fail.
  • Good Jobs: A unionized workforce should staff public mass transit.
  • Zero Fare: A commitment to free public transit into the foreseeable future.
  • Green Transit: Electrification of the entire bus fleet.
  • Safe and Comfortable Stops: All bus stops should be clean, accessible, and provide protection from the elements, featuring sidewalks, benches, and real-time transit information.

Anthony Cunningham, a Sunrise Movement KC leader who relies on public transit, emphasized the urgency of these demands. 

“We must ensure that all of this talk leads to action and continual investment that will benefit our citizens, our poor and working-class communities all across the city for generations to come, and not lead to some temporary playground for tourists and the World Cup,” said Cunningham.

These demands come at a critical time, as the city’s Climate Protection & Resiliency Plan has identified automobile and transit emissions as the leading contributors to pollution in Kansas City. Sunrise Movement KC says the intentional investment in a more convenient and accessible bus system represents the most effective and cost-efficient means to rapidly reduce emissions. The group also points to studies showing that reliable public transit significantly enhances access to jobs, healthcare, food, and other essential services, benefiting everyone.

Adin Alem, another leader from Sunrise Movement KC, highlighted the collective interest in an improved bus system.

“Everyone has a stake in a dignified bus system,” says Alem. “When more people use our buses, our city becomes safer, more just, and more livable. That is why we are here today demanding our city give the people Better Buses for KC.”

About Sunrise Movement KC 

Sunrise Movement KC identifies as a multi-racial, cross-class, anti-racist movement of young Kansas Citians dedicated to addressing the climate crisis. They aim to build people’s power through direct action, local policies, mutual aid, and community relationships. Their ultimate goal is to achieve a just transition for Kansas City that ends reliance on fossil fuels and dismantles systems of racial capitalism. For more information about Sunrise Movement KC, visit their website.

Prior to joining The Community Voice, he worked as a reporter & calendar editor with The Pitch, writing instructor with The Kansas City Public Library, and as a contributing food writer for Kansas...