INDEPENDENCE, Mo. – The next time you ride a bus in Independence, you’ll be able to surf the internet for free. The mayor announced Monday all buses in the IndeBus fleet are now equipped with Wi-Fi.
The city hopes the amenity attracts more riders (which will cut down on carbon emissions), narrows the digital divide, and helps people find a job.
The homepage of the Wi-Fi services takes users to the IndepWorks.com website. It connects job seekers with job openings and allows employers to recruit workers.
“We're really focusing on, in our economic development plan, connecting workers to jobs and employers to a skilled workforce,” Mayor Eileen Weir said. “We know this is a crisis in our country that employers have a very difficult time finding a skilled workforce and yet there are still people out there who are struggling to find adequate employment. We really believe this is a great economic development tool for us, it's a tremendous communication tool for us and really it connects with our ambition to be the greenest city in America.”
The city is also working to expand operating hours of the bus service and establish a rapid east-to-west connector between Independence and Kansas City.
“There is a ton going for public transportation, but we have a long way to go. Not only in Independence, but in our region. I think every mayor you talk to in the Kansas City metropolitan area understands we need a better transportation system to get people to work, to get people to school, and to improve our tourism and our visitor attraction as well,” Weir said.
A city spokesperson said providing the Wi-Fi will cost Independence $10,000 the first year and $4,200 each subsequent year.