KC Streetcar
A streetcar leaving Union Station, northbound
Overview
OwnerCity of Kansas City
LocaleKansas City, Missouri, USA
Transit typeStreetcar
Number of lines1[1]
Number of stations10 (9 proposed)[2]
Daily ridership5,700[3]
Annual ridership2,060,327
Websitekcstreetcar.org Edit this at Wikidata
Operation
Began operationMay 6, 2016[4]
Operator(s)Kansas City Streetcar Authority
CharacterStreet running
Number of vehicles6 CAF Urbos 3s[5]
Technical
System length2.2 mi (3.5 km)[6]
Track gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Electrification750 V overhead line

The KC Streetcar is a streetcar system in Downtown Kansas City, Missouri.[7] Construction began in May 2014.[8] The system opened for service on May 6, 2016. The KC Streetcar is free to ride, as it is funded by a Transportation development district.[9] As of October 2021, the streetcar has had 9.4 million riders since opening in 2016.[10] Extensions north to the waterfront and south to University of Missouri-Kansas City have been funded and will open in the mid-2020s.[11]

Route

The downtown streetcar runs along a 2.2-mile-long (3.5 km) route[6] between the River Market and Union Station, running through the central business district and the Crossroads, mostly along Main Street. It makes stops about every two blocks.[12] and has 10 designated stops along the route. Along the way it connects directly with Amtrak, local and commuter RideKC bus services (including a direct route to Kansas City International Airport) and several RideKC bike-share kiosks.

Proponents tout this initial linear segment as one of the simplest and straightest modern streetcar routes in the United States. All platforms offer level boarding and real-time arrival information.[13]

Stop In the area
City Market (5th/Walnut) River Market, City Market (south), Arabia Steamboat Museum
River Market North (3rd/Grand) River Market, City Market (northeast), Town of KS bridge, Ride KC 3rd and Grand MetroCenter
River Market West (Delaware) River Market, City Market Park
North Loop (7th/Main) Garment District
Library (9th/Main) Financial District, Library District, Central Library, Commerce Tower
MetroCenter (12th/Main) One Kansas City Place, Town Pavilion, City Center Square, Ride KC Bus and MAX transfer, Power & Light District (north end), Barney Allis Plaza
Power & Light (14th/Main) Power & Light District (south end), Kansas City Convention Center (north end), Municipal Auditorium, T-Mobile Center, Power & Light tower, One Light, Two Light (future)
Kauffman Center (16th/Main) Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, Kansas City Convention Center (south end), Crossroads Arts District, Lowe's Hotel
Crossroads (19th/Main) Crossroads Arts District, Freight House, Freight House Pedestrian Bridge
Union Station Amtrak, Crown Center, Penn Valley Park, Pershing Square, Washington Square Park, The Link, Liberty Memorial and National WW1 Museum, National Archives, Freight House Pedestrian Bridge (via The Link), Crown Center hotels

History

Development

A streetcar heading southbound on Main Street
A streetcar heading southbound on Main Street

After earlier efforts to create a metro- or citywide rail transit system failed at the ballot box, voters in downtown Kansas City approved funding for a two-mile streetcar line in December 2012.[14]

In December 2012, the city council awarded a contract to HDR, Inc. to complete a final design for the downtown streetcar line.[15] HDR had previously performed preliminary engineering work. In October 2013, the mayor announced that the system will use 100% low-floor Urbos 3 streetcars made by the American subsidiary of Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF) in Elmira Heights, New York.[16] Pre-construction work, utility-relocation work in preparation for the project, began in late 2013, and construction of the line began in May 2014.[8] Construction was completed in late 2015 and testing was performed from December 2015 to May 2016.[1][8]

The projected cost of the Downtown streetcar was $102 million.[17] The majority of funds came from Special Obligation Bonds of the City of Kansas City, Missouri totaling $64 million. Construction bonds and operating costs were repaid by a special assessment and 1% sales tax collected inside a transportation development district (TDD) approved by voters in 2012. Both levies are assessed only within the taxing district, which encompasses downtown neighborhoods along the streetcar route. Additional funding included a utility contribution and two federal grants totaling $17.1 million.[18] The project received another $20 million federal grant, through the TIGER program, in August 2013.[19] Passengers ride free of charge, as operating costs are covered by the TDD.[12] Total construction costs were $250,000 under budget[20] and operations costs started out under budget.[21]

The streetcars are numbered 801–806, following the numbering set up by the original Kansas City Public Service Company numbering system.[22] Car 801 arrived in Kansas City on November 2, 2015.[23] Testing began on November 6.[24] Cars 802 through 804 later arrived between December and April.

Opening

Operations on KC Streetcar began on May 6, 2016, at approximately 11 AM. The total opening Friday and Saturday ridership was over 27,000 riders,[25] with the trains traveling 650 miles.[26] The weekend celebration for the streetcars opening included music, a free carnival, fireworks and coordinated specials at businesses. Bus service and bike share service was free to correspond with the launch. Following the opening of the line, local officials stated the line had exceeded their expectations, with over 100,000 riders in the first two weeks, and a million riders after 5 months.[27][28]

Ridership

The line was originally projected to have a daily average ridership of just 2,700, with average yearly ridership levels around double this figure.[29] The streetcar is free to ride, and is funded by the local Transportation development district. Ridership is calculated by the use of automatic, anonymous passenger counters at each streetcar door - with manual checks to ensure accuracy.[30]

Following initial high ridership, two additional streetcars were ordered from CAF in June 2017 at a cost of $12 million.[31] Car 805 arrived on May 13, 2019,[32] and entered service on July 1, 2019.[33] Car 806 arrived on August 26, 2019.[34][35] The line celebrated 5 million riders in September 2018.[36] On July 5, 2019, the streetcar had its busiest one day ridership, with 15,559 riders.[30]

The COVID-19 pandemic heavily impacted the ridership of the streetcar, with less than a quarter of the number of average riders, and averaging just 2,148 daily riders in 2020.[37][38] In 2021, ridership levels returned, albeit lower than levels prior to the pandemic.[10]

KC Streetcar ridership
2016[39] 2017[40] 2018[29] 2019[41] 2020[42]
Ridership 1,399,153[a] 2,072,367 2,114,717 2,228,942 782,556
Average daily ridership 5,830[a] 5,645 5,794 6,107 2,148
Cumulative ridership 1,399,153 3,459,480 5,574,366 7,808,818 8,601,264

Expansion

Expansion planning began in 2014. Two studies covered one line north, crossing the Missouri River and eight lines heading east, west and south from downtown. A ballot item in August 2014 to add three new rail lines and an improved bus line failed at the ballot 40%–60%.[43] A grassroots effort to revisit expansion using the same legal structure as the starter line, is being funded by the private sector.[44] Two extensions - one south to University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) along Main Street, and one north to Berkley Riverfront Park - have been funded, and will open in the mid-2020s.[45][46] As with the original line, the extensions will be free to ride.

University of Missouri-Kansas City

In August 2017, voters approved the formation of a transportation development district (TDD) that would help to fund the extension of the streetcar south.[47] The line would be extended for 3.48 miles (5.60 km) south from Union Station towards the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), along Main Street. The extension is expected to cost around $227 million, and would open in around 2023.[48] In March 2019, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) rated the project a "medium high" in receiving $151.6 million in federal funding.[49] In December 2020, the FTA announced it had awarded the KC Streetcar $174 million for the extension south to UMKC, with remaining funding for the extension coming from the expanded TDD.[11][46] As part of the extension, 6 additional streetcars would be ordered from CAF, doubling the size of the fleet.[50] As of November 2021, the extension to UKMC is scheduled to open in 2025.[46]

Proposed stop In the area
27th & Main Crown Center, Penn Valley Park, Liberty Memorial and National WW1 Museum, Union Cemetery, Federal Reserve Bank
31st & Main Penn Valley Park, Metropolitan Community College, KCTV Tower, Linwood Square Shopping Center
Armour Blvd & Main Foreign Language Academy
39th & Main Westport, Westport High School, Gillham Park, Eagle Scout Memorial Fountain
43rd & Main Westport, Saint Luke's Hospital, Mill Creek Park
45th & Main Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City Art Institute
Cleaver Blvd & Main Country Club Plaza, Plaza Tennis Center, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Frank A. Theis Park, Mill Creek Park, Community Christian Church
51st and Brookside UMKC, National Museum of Toys and Miniatures, Trolley Track Trail

Berkley Riverfront Park

In August 2017, the KC Port Authority announced plans to extend the line north from the River Market toward the Missouri River. This proposed extension would run for 3/4 mile north to Berkley Riverfront Park and a proposed Kansas City NWSL stadium.[51][52] The extension would be funded by the KC Port Authority, as well as by federal TIGER funding.[53] One additional streetcar would be required for this additional service.[53] In December 2020, $14.2 million was awarded by the FTA towards the extension, with additional funding required from local sources such as Port KC.[54] In October 2021, the cost of the extension had risen by $5.5 million. Construction is estimated to begin in 2023, and opening in 2025.[45]

Future

In September 2021, the KC Streetcar Authority began work studying the potential of a northern extension of the line over the Missouri River to North Kansas City.[55] In October 2021, the KC Streetcar Authority and Kansas City Area Transportation Authority began work planning a future east–west transit line along 39th Street towards University of Kansas Medical Center and Kansas City, Kansas.[56][57]

Operating authority

Streetcar in River Market
Streetcar in River Market

The streetcar is operated by the Kansas City Streetcar Authority, a not-for-profit corporation that is funded by local taxes. The authority was incorporated in August 2012 after voters approved creation of the Kansas City Downtown Transportation Development District,[58] a special taxing district that funds construction and operation of a two-mile route through downtown Kansas City. Legal claims against the district and its taxation power were dismissed in August 2013.[59] The streetcar began construction in May 2014, was completed in fall 2015, and began carrying passengers in service on May 6, 2016.[1]

The Streetcar Authority's 13 directors, a mix of public officials, business people, and transit advocates, were appointed by the City Council and Port Authority in late 2012 and met for the first time as an officially sanctioned body in early 2013.[60] The authority's oversight of the streetcar's operation and maintenance is modeled on that of the Portland Streetcar. The city council has the power to appoint some of the authority's directors and retains ownership over the system.

Day-to-day operations and maintenance of the system is handled by Herzog Transit Services, under joint contract to the Streetcar Authority and the City of Kansas City. The contract was signed in October 2015.[61]

Economic development

Even prior to the opening of the line in 2016, new development was occurring along the route.[62] Analysis by HDR, Inc. stated that the downtown area along the route received $1.8 billion of development between 2013 and 2018, with a quarter of the investment publicly credited to the creation of the streetcar.[63]

In 2021, local businesses stated the proposed extension of the line south to UKMC has also spurred development in the area, with $413 million of private investment.[64][65] Some residents have been concerned that development along the route will lead to gentrification.[66]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c "Kansas City is on the MOVE with the KC Streetcar". KC Streetcar. Retrieved March 18, 2016.
  2. ^ "The KC Streetcar – FAQs". Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  3. ^ "KC Streetcar | Ridership". Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  4. ^ Horsley, Lynn (May 6, 2016). "After years of planning, setbacks, hard work, KC celebrates streetcar grand opening". The Kansas City Star. Retrieved May 7, 2016.
  5. ^ Alonzo, Austin (January 7, 2014). "KC will send three city staff members to Spain for streetcar workshops". Kansas City Business Journal. Bizjournals.com. Retrieved April 8, 2015.
  6. ^ a b "FAQS [- How long is the downtown streetcar route?]". KC Streetcar. Retrieved May 24, 2016.
  7. ^ "Streetcars Are Up To Date In Kansas City". Forbes. June 2013. Retrieved June 27, 2013. In December, Residents of Kansas City approved the construction of a two-mile, downtown streetcar line after a mail-in election.
  8. ^ a b c Horsley, Lynn (May 22, 2014). "KC Breaks Ground for Streetcars — and OKs Advance Spending on Expansion". Kansas City Star. Retrieved July 6, 2014.
  9. ^ "FAQS – KC Streetcar | Cost – Pet Information – Speed – Streetcar Stops". Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  10. ^ a b "Ride KC Streetcar Ridership & Performance October 2021" (PDF). Ride KC Streetcar. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  11. ^ a b "KC Streetcar extension officially receives $174M in federal funding". KSHB. January 8, 2021. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  12. ^ a b Hand, Gunnar (January 15, 2013). "Streetcar Renaissance". The Architect's Newspaper. Archpaper.com. Retrieved September 2, 2013.
  13. ^ "How to Ride". KC Streetcar.
  14. ^ Alonzo, Austin (December 12, 2012). "Kansas City voters approve streetcar plan". Kansas City Business Journal. Bizjournals.com. Retrieved September 2, 2013.
  15. ^ Alonzo, Austin (December 21, 2012). "Kansas City streetcar's first stop: Construction plans". Kansas City Business Journal. Bizjournals.com. Retrieved September 2, 2013.
  16. ^ Alonzo, Austin (October 4, 2013). "Spanish firm CAF will supply streetcars". Kansas City Business Journal. Bizjournals.com. Retrieved October 6, 2013.
  17. ^ Horsley, Lynn (July 2, 2015). "Kansas City streetcar costs are comparable to other cities". The Kansas City Star. Retrieved May 8, 2016.
  18. ^ Alonzo, Austin (May 22, 2013). "Kansas City streetcar seeks $20 million TIGER grant". Kansas City Business Journal. Bizjournals.com. Retrieved September 2, 2013.
  19. ^ Alonzo, Austin (August 30, 2013). "Kansas City wins $20M federal TIGER grant for streetcar". Kansas City Business Journal. Bizjournals.com. Retrieved September 2, 2013.
  20. ^ Hernandez, Chris [@CHernandezKCMO] (May 7, 2016). "Did we mention @kcstreetcar came in $250K UNDER budget? Thanks @KCMO Public Works for excellent management!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  21. ^ Johnson, Dale [@kclightrail] (March 31, 2016). ".@kcstreetcar operations is UNDER budget" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  22. ^ "FAQS – KC Streetcar | Cost – Pet Information – Speed – Streetcar Stops". Retrieved August 17, 2016.
  23. ^ Horsley, Lynn (November 2, 2015). "First KC streetcar vehicle rolls into town". The Kansas City Star. Retrieved November 16, 2015.
  24. ^ Horsley, Lynn (November 6, 2015). "Kansas City streetcar passes first test on downtown tracks". The Kansas City Star. Retrieved November 16, 2015.
  25. ^ KC Streetcar [@kcstreetcar] (May 8, 2016). "Opening wknd passenger numbers: more than 27,000 riders enjoyed the #kcstreetcar over 2 days" (Tweet). Retrieved May 8, 2016 – via Twitter.
  26. ^ KC Streetcar [@kcstreetcar] (May 8, 2016). "#kcstreetcar opening weekend fun fact: the fleet traveled nearly 650 miles over two days" (Tweet). Retrieved May 8, 2016 – via Twitter.
  27. ^ "City officials: Streetcar exceeds expectations". KSHB. May 20, 2016. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  28. ^ "KC Streetcar celebrates its 1 millionth ride". KSHB. October 13, 2016. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  29. ^ a b "Ride KC Streetcar Ridership and Performance December 2018" (PDF). Ride KC Streetcar. December 2018. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  30. ^ a b "KC Streetcar | Ridership". KC Streetcar. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  31. ^ Horsley, Lynn (April 13, 2017). "Kansas City streetcar director says new vehicles urgently needed". Kansas City Star. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  32. ^ "KC Streetcar 805". KC Streetcar. Archived from the original on September 12, 2019. Retrieved September 11, 2019.
  33. ^ "KC Streetcar adds 5th vehicle to the Downtown fleet". Downtown Council of Kansas City. July 3, 2019. Retrieved July 10, 2019.
  34. ^ "806 Rolls Into Town". KC Streetcar. Archived from the original on September 12, 2019. Retrieved September 11, 2019.
  35. ^ Video of car 806 being unloaded on Twitter, by KC Streetcar on August 26, 2019.
  36. ^ "Streetcar celebrates 5 million rides". KSHB. September 18, 2018. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  37. ^ "Ride KC Streetcar Ridership & Performance December 2020" (PDF). Ride KC Streetcar. December 2020. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  38. ^ "KC Streetcar reducing hours in response to COVID-19". KSHB. March 19, 2020. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  39. ^ "Ride KC Streetcar Ridership and Performance January 2017" (PDF). Ride KC Streetcar. January 2017. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  40. ^ "Ride KC Streetcar Ridership and Performance December 2017" (PDF). Ride KC Streetcar. December 2017. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  41. ^ "Ride KC Streetcar Ridership and Performance December 2019" (PDF). Ride KC Streetcar. December 2019. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  42. ^ "Ride KC Streetcar Ridership and Performance December 2020" (PDF). Ride KC Streetcar. December 2020. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  43. ^ Horsley, Lynn (August 5, 2014). "Kansas City streetcar plan stopped in its tracks". The Kansas City Star.
  44. ^ "Midtown/UMKC Streetcar Extension Resources – KCRTA". kcrta.org. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
  45. ^ a b "Price tag for KC Streetcar's Riverfront Extension climbs $5.5 million". KSHB. October 20, 2021. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  46. ^ a b c "KC Streetcar Extension: $174MM FFGA". Railway Age. December 10, 2020. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  47. ^ "Funds to support KC Streetcar expansion approved". KSHB. June 20, 2018. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  48. ^ "Voters approve new taxing district for Kansas City streetcar expansion". kansascity. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  49. ^ Collison, Kevin (March 26, 2019). "Kansas City Streetcar Extension Plan To UMKC Wins Key Support From Federal Agency". KCUR. Retrieved March 27, 2019.
  50. ^ "KC Streetcar fleet may soon double in size". KSHB. June 29, 2021. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  51. ^ "KC Streetcar Riverfront Extension moving forward". KSHB. March 23, 2021. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  52. ^ "Stadium for Kansas City NWSL to be built along Berkley Riverfront". KSHB. October 26, 2021. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  53. ^ a b "Kansas City Streetcar looking to expand service — this time rolling to the north". Kansas City Star. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  54. ^ "KC Streetcar receives funding to expand north to riverfront park". KSHB. September 10, 2020. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  55. ^ "With two extensions underway, KC streetcar eyes crossing Missouri River into North KC". Kansas City Star. September 6, 2021. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  56. ^ "KC Streetcar Eyes East-West Expansion". Railway Age. October 4, 2021. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  57. ^ "KC Streetcar to study east, west route along 39th Street". KSHB. October 1, 2021. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  58. ^ Bender, Jonathan (August 3, 2012). "Kansas City Streetcar Authority is up and running". The Pitch. Kansas City Pitch LLC. Retrieved March 27, 2014.
  59. ^ "Appeal from the Circuit Court of Jackson County The Honorable Peggy Stevens McGraw, Judge". The Missouri Court of Appeals Western District. August 7, 2013. Retrieved March 27, 2014.
  60. ^ Alonzo, Austin (January 2, 2013). "Streetcar Authority mulls options in first official meeting". Kansas City Business Journal. Bizjournals.com. Retrieved September 2, 2013.
  61. ^ DVV Media UK (October 9, 2015). "Herzog Transit Services signs Kansas City Streetcar operating contract". Railway Gazette International. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  62. ^ "More apartments spring up on KC Streetcar route". KSHB. May 2, 2016. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  63. ^ "Kansas City Streetcar | HDR". www.hdrinc.com. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  64. ^ "Midtown revitalization takes shape with businesses opening, streetcar expansion". KSHB. January 11, 2021. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  65. ^ Friestad, Thomas (October 21, 2021). "Streetcar sees $413M in private investment along southern extension route". Kansas City Business Journal. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  66. ^ Nozicka, Luke (September 21, 2021). "In a rapidly changing Midtown, some fear Streetcar expansion will price out neighbors". Kansas City Star. Retrieved December 3, 2021.

Notes

  1. ^ a b 2016 ridership figures start from May 6, 2016 when the line opened until December 31, 2016.

Route map: