Missouri Minute: KC eliminates bus fares; St. Louis Loop Trolley sets closing date

Good morning, MBA readers,

National media was abuzz this weekend over the Kansas City Council’s decision to eliminate public bus fares in the city. The unanimous decision has been lauded for its potential to curb greenhouse gas emissions and end fare-evasion arrests. It also comes at an interesting time as other cities, like Portland, Oregon, move in the opposite direction: Portland is instead cracking down on its fare evaders, even going so far as to launch an ultimately unsuccessful ad campaign shaming the practice. While proponents of eliminating fares celebrate Kansas City’s decision, the City Council still has to decide on how to fund fare-free transit. The city currently brings in roughly $8 million a year in bus fares, but as noted by Jalopnik, the real cost of fare-free buses will likely exceed that as more people are incentivized to use the system. Scroll down to read more on this and other business issues from around the state.


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St. Louis Loop Trolley sets closing date
The Loop Trolley Co. will shut down Dec. 29 due to financial problems, followed by a “transitionary period to establish next steps” for the streetcar system. The board of Bi-State Development will discuss the streetcar in a closed meeting Tuesday, as some speculate the prospect of a takeover. (St. Louis Business Journal)

UAW to close Hazelwood-based regional office
The United Auto Workers is disbanding its 17-state Region 5, which is at the center of a federal union corruption investigation. It is not yet clear how the regional reorganization will take place. (The Detroit News)

NASB taps former H&R Block exec as CIO
Grandview-based North American Savings Bank has hired Tim Franchett, former vice president of technology services at H&R Block, as its new CIO. After leaving H&R Block in July 2018, Franchett spent five months doing consulting work at GEHA earlier this year. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Intrust Bank names new KC market president
The Wichita, Kansas-based bank has named Commercial Market Manager Kurt Fischer to replace Julius Madas as market president when he retires in April. Madas, who held the position since 2014, first joined the bank 14 years ago to lead its commercial lending efforts in the Kansas City market. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Lambert privatization group faces lawsuit over closed meetings, records
The Government Accountability Project has sued the city of St. Louis, alleging the Airport Advisory Working Group knowingly violated the state’s records law in at least eight instances. The lawsuit hopes to open closed-door meetings and release documents related to the potential privatization of St. Louis Lambert International Airport. A city official said state laws allow governments to keep confidential documents related to real estate and negotiating contracts until those agreements are either approved or terminated. (St. Louis Public Radio)

Canopy Biosciences makes second 2019 acquisition
The St. Louis biotech startup has purchased Core Diagnostics, a California-based laboratory company that has raised about $12 million in funding, for an undisclosed amount. Canopy provides gene editing and gene expression products and services. (St. Louis Business Journal)


Go figure

85 cents

That’s how much Missouri’s minimum wage will increase next month, to a new level of $9.45 per hour. The bump is part of a plan approved by Missouri voters last year to raise the state’s wage floor to $12 per hour by 2023. Missouri was one of 20 states to implement new minimum wage requirements in 2019, the Associated Press reports.


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That’s what the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority tweeted after the Kansas City Council voted unanimously last week to eliminate bus fares. Currently, bus fare is $1.50 per ride or $50 a month. It’s estimated that the KCATA makes roughly $8 million a year from bus fares, KSHB reports. The council still needs to iron out the details of the proposal, including how the fare-free system will be funded.


Hello, my name is

eHawk Solutions

St. Louis County has tapped this Lee’s Summit-based company to provide a smartphone app that tracks people accused of crimes, St. Louis Public Radio reports. The app would help monitor people who are awaiting a court date, or those who have been convicted of a crime but do not need to be incarcerated. County officials said the app could replace cumbersome bail in some cases. The six-month pilot program, set to launch in January, could be the biggest of its kind in the country, according to eHawk. The company will provide the program for free during this time.


Word to the wise

“Recognized environmental condition”

A designation for areas with a presence or likely presence of hazardous substances or petroleum products. It’s also the latest factor that has come up for consideration in the debate around the potential privatization of St. Louis Lambert International Airport, St. Louis Public Radio reports. According to an environmental consultant, the airport has large areas around it that are “available for redevelopment” but also carry environmental risks. These areas include an industrial area previously used by Boeing and the Air National Guard. The consultant said those parties are responsible for remediating the areas they used while the airport is responsible for others before the land could be repurposed for commercial purposes. Airport Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge said the report gives the companies vying to lease the airport a clear idea of what they’re getting into as they think about redevelopment in the area.


It’s been a pleasure doing business with you this morning.


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