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Kincannon proposes funding to initiate KAT bus stop upgrades
October 28, 2021

The City of Knoxville is jump-starting a systemic top-to-bottom upgrade of Knoxville Area Transit’s 1,100 bus stops.

The immediate $300,000 in “now” funding would be a significant first step, Mayor Indya Kincannon said. But she’s hoping the City seed money will leverage three times as much from the state Department of Transportation – boosting the total funding for new bus shelters to $1.2 million.

“The need is great,” Kincannon said. “We know that improving accessibility to bus stops and adding shelters increases transit ridership and improves the transit experience – that’s just common sense. But it’s also the right thing to do. People who rely on transit should have a safe, dry place to wait for their bus.”

KAT will continue its assessment of the stops on all routes, setting priorities by hearing from transit riders and looking at boarding data where investment will make the biggest impact, Director of Transit Isaac Thorne said.

Shelters are important, he said, but so are the concrete landing pads and sidewalk access to the shelters that make transit possible for people using wheelchairs or who have mobility issues. Each stop location is unique, with grading, right-of-way and other issues that require extensive analysis and design work, so the process takes time.

The public input process and the start of the upgrades and installation work for the shelters will begin in spring 2022.

“Once someone is on one of our buses, the experience is great, with clean vehicles, free WiFi and a helpful operator,” Thorne said. “So it’s really the on-street experience that we want to work on.

“This is so important for our customers to have safe, inviting bus stops. The City’s initial $300,000 allows us to start prioritizing stops and get more public input on where bus stop improvements should go.”

The new $300,000 to fund bus stop improvements is part of a $35 million budget amendment to the City’s operating and capital budgets. City Council approved it on the first of two readings at its Oct. 19, 2021 meeting. The second vote is scheduled for Council’s Nov. 2 meeting.

A detailed listing of the Mayor’s budget amendment proposal – mostly using American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds or money freed up by other federal assistance – can be found here:

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