Kansas City’s first streetcar to accept passengers in nearly 60 years left Union Station at 11am on Friday, May 6. Since then, the first week of ridership has exceeded expectations.
Feedback has been positive, reflecting good choices throughout the public-private partnership: modern vehicles, frequent service, a straightforward alignment, level boarding, and good connectivity to activity centers and other transportation modes.
Average daily ridership was estimated at 2,700 and every subsequent day has surpassed that. Clearly the decision to not charge a fare was a good one, even though crowded vehicles have slowed operations and required occasional use of the starter line’s only spare vehicle. There are already discussions about acquiring a fifth vehicle, since lead times are long. Lots of passengers are asking when service can be extended to the Plaza, even though a multi-line expansion plan was defeated in August 2014.
It’s not just about streetcar, either. Late night MAX service started May 13 to allow more access to downtown jobs and entertainment venues (two additional routes will run weekends until 2am starting in July). Bike share has seen some of its highest usage near the streetcar route. Restaurants have already reported brisker business, in addition to an opening weekend boost. Social media reports reference a spike in pedestrian traffic, as well as Kansas City finally feeling like a “city”. Coverage of Smart City investments along the line have boosted KC’s profile nationally.
Here are some key news articles about the streetcar since opening weekend:
- High hopes, lingering doubts on board for KC streetcar public grand opening (Kansas City Star)
- Kansas City Pins Hopes For Downtown On New Streetcar (KCUR)
- Podcast: The Streetcar Returns to Kansas City (American Planning Association)
- Five things I really like about the streetcar (Steve Kraske / Kansas City Star)
- The Stone Age Is Over. Kansas City Definitely Got The Memo (Huffington Post)
- Kansas City streetcar sneak peak of Cincy’s (Cincinnati Enquirer)
- U.S. Department of Transportation Celebrates Kansas City Streetcar Grand Opening (Federal Transit Administration)