KCMO begins on-demand ride service starting in Northland

A new ride service called Iris will provide semi-flexible pick-ups and drop-offs.

Photo of a wrapped Iris car

The new cars are wrapped and ready to go. | Photo via Kansas City

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In need of a lift? Kansas City leaders announced a new ride service called Iris, which will provide on-demand pick-ups and drop-offs through app-based technology.

“This is the future of transit,” City Manager Brian Platt said. “No more is it a fixed route that moves along a certain path at a certain time.”

The new technology has two big purposes:

  1. Better connect people to existing public transit (filling in coverage gaps)
  2. Provide flexible shuttle services to specific destinations

"[It’s] responsive and reactive,” Platt said. “It’s like Uber or Lyft or any kind of ride-share service you get now, except at a lower cost at a higher scale.”

KC_Lucas with Iris.jpg

Mayor Quinton Lucas called Iris “truly transformative in transit.”

Photo by KCtoday

The reason

Some KCMO residents don’t have easy transit options. Leaders discussed how transportation accessibility has been a major concern for Northlanders.

“Many of our neighborhoods, my own neighborhood, virtually has no bus services.” Deb Hermann, CEO of Northland Neighborhoods, Inc., said.

The rollout

Iris is live for residents north of the Missouri River as of March 15. Leaders plan to expand coverage south through the Plaza by April 27 (aka the NFL Draft). The goal is to encompass the whole city by the end of July.

Users will have 24-hour access to rides. Officials said pick-up and drop-off sites will never be more than a quarter-mile away.

The service can also provide new routes for specific events — think: festivals, sporting events, and the World Cup.

Screenshot of Iris in the App Store

Here’s what Iris looks like in the App Store (Android coming soon).

Screenshot by KCtoday

The details

Cost for riders:

  • From pick-up to transit hub | Free
  • From pick-up to other stop | $3
  • From one zone to another | $4
  • To destinations (KCI, Zona Rosa, etc.) | $10

Cost for the city: $8 million, annually

Drivers: Licensed zTrip employees will operate purple, branded Iris vehicles

Wait time: Maximum 20 minutes

Accessibility: Options for wheelchair lifts and bike storage

Precedent: Platt initiated a similar service in during his previous role in Jersey City, resulting in “incredible success.”