Kansas City streetcar rolls out with impressive rider numbers

Streetcar top image

RideKC Streetcar had its inaugural run Friday, May 6 in downtown Kansas City surrounded by much fanfare and excitement. The grand opening ceremony before the first ride featured Tom Gerend, executive director of the Kansas City Streetcar Authority, and Mayor Sly James of Kansas City, Missouri, who both gave kudos to the many organizations and individuals who contributed to the project.

Streetcar carnival
Carnival rides in front of Union Station.
Hundreds lined up to ride the streetcar Friday at Union Station.
Hundreds lined up to ride the streetcar Friday at Union Station.

Back in 2010, MARC managed the Downtown Corridor Alternatives Analysis that eventually led to construction of the streetcar on Main Street as the locally preferred alternative, adopted by both the Kansas City, Missouri City Council and MARC.  The study was funded by a Federal Transit Administration grant and by the City of Kansas City, Missouri.

In October 2012, MARC approved $17.7 million in federal funding for the streetcar project — $16 million through the Surface Transportation Program to buy vehicles and $1.7 million from the Congestion Mitigation/Air Quality Program to build streetcar stations. We see this important milestone providing a critical link for the future of our regional transit system.

The streetcar festivities continued throughout the weekend, including carnival rides, fireworks, live music and food and drink specials at restaurants along the line. The Streetcar Authority reported more than 32,000 riders during the course of the weekend and estimates $1.7 billion in economic development has been completed or is in progress in the Transportation Development District since voters approved the streetcar project in 2012.

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