The downtown MAX rapid transit line is going straight this Sunday after 12 years in operation.
The Kansas City Transportation Authority is shifting the popular express bus line to a direct north-south route down Grand Boulevard from Crown Center to the River Market and is holding a celebration in Washington Square Park to inaugurate the new route.
“This is really a wonderful opportunity to bring the community together to celebrate an initiative that will improve transit for our customers,” Frank White III, the Authority’s chief marketing officer, said in a statement.
Food, games and prizes, including MAX-branded frisbees, will be part of the free family event Sunday at Washington Square Park from 2- to 4 p.m.
The MAX has been winding through the Crossroads and Central Business District.
“As our city changes, so must our bus routes,” Chuck Ferguson, the KCATA planning chief said in a statement when the change was first announced in late August.
“Moving Main Street Max reflects our efforts to better serve an evolving downtown. It will give our riders the type of superior service they expect from the area’s transit authority.”
The move means MAX service will be added to nine stops on Grand Boulevard. The KCATA will add shelters to Grand to accommodate the new MAX stops.
A KCATA survey conducted last summer showed riders overwhelmingly embraced plans for putting Main Street MAX on a straighter route through downtown, according to a press release. Of the nearly 600 riders surveyed, 72 percent supported moving MAX to Grand.
The shift means the Main Street MAX will no longer run on Wyandotte, Eighth, Ninth, 11th, 12th and Oak streets. The Main Street MAX route will remain the same south of Pershing and Grand to Waldo.
Starting Sunday, the route will be renamed Main MAX.
The authority said the move was made to better serve the growing downtown market and improve service reliability.
“Downtown’s population is exploding: new housing is flourishing, the central business district is bustling and there’s a new streetcar on Main,” the transportation authority noted in its release.
The authority stated MAX continues to be one of the metro area’s most popular routes, averaging 4,500 riders each weekday as it travels nine miles from Waldo through the Country Club Plaza into downtown.