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Join the discussion: Does a free public transit system sound like a pipe dream? Kansas City is doing it.

Kansas City, MO 09/06/22 Michael Brennan (cq), 74, (left, in red) heads home after grocery shopping. The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) (cq) bus is free to all riders. (Photo by Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff) 01BOSfreebusPG 01BOSfreebusPG2Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It takes exactly 43 minutes and 43 seconds for the Main Max bus to complete its full route, squeaking and squelching and rattling from its first stop near the Missouri River to a strip mall 8 miles south.

Climb aboard early on this sun-sweaty Tuesday afternoon and you can watch wilting riders taking their seats, clad in scrubs, return-to-office-ready polos, and many, many Chiefs jerseys. Talk to some of them and you’ll be reminded that public transit woes are a universal frustration. Since Kansas City made all routes free at the start of the pandemic, riders here report using the bus more — but some still have their gripes.


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Emma Platoff can be reached at emma.platoff@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emmaplatoff. Diti Kohli can be reached at diti.kohli@globe.com.Follow her on Twitter @ditikohli_.