Nearly 60 years later, Kansas City streetcar is connecting downtown again

From 1870 to 1957 streetcars roamed Kansas City's streets. Now, there are only four KC streetcars but they're picking up where the old series left off.
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From 1870 to 1957 streetcars roamed Kansas City's streets. Now, there are only four KC streetcars but they're picking up where the old series left off.
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KC Streetcar

Kansas City Council votes to allow KC Streetcar Authority to purchase two new cars

By Lynn Horsley

lhorsley@kcstar.com

June 29, 2017 04:58 PM

The Kansas City Streetcar Authority has received city approval to purchase two more streetcar vehicles, which are needed because the four-vehicle fleet is getting a workout from high ridership.

The City Council authorized the purchase Thursday in a 12-1 vote, with Councilwoman Heather Hall the lone dissenter.

The authority will spend nearly $12 million in streetcar tax money to buy the CAF USA vehicles, using the same manufacturer as it did for the original fleet.

The authority has surplus funds from the transportation development district that will allow it to pay cash for the first vehicle, and the second will be bought through a lease-purchase agreement. The funds are not from general city tax dollars.

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The cars are custom-made and won’t be delivered for two years.

Streetcar Authority Executive Director Tom Gerend said the system will get along with four cars for the foreseeable future, but already knows it will need at least two more vehicles.

“This is really about planning for the future,” he said, adding that the system has consistently had higher ridership than anyone predicted since it started in May 2016.

The system, which runs from River Market to Union Station, currently operates at least three vehicles seven days per week and often has to put the fourth vehicle into service when crowds warrant it. The initial forecast was for about 2,700 rides per day, but the cars average about 5,000 rides per day, and register up to 15,000 rides on the busiest weekend days.

Lynn Horsley: 816-226-2058, @LynnHorsley