The KansasCity.com site reports that the initial very favorable reactions to the opening of the new streetcar line has many officials and citizens talking about expansion.
A group of midtown residents plan to announce their support for an expansion that would carry the new line from Union Station to Country Club Plaza and the University of Missouri-Kansas City. This plan is pbolstlered by the fact that the new line has generated positive effects such as higher than anticipated ridership and increased business at River Market restaurants, leading them to hire more employees.
Other groups are also advocatiing expansion, though some political leaders are concerned about streetcar funding requests adversely affecting other grant applications.
Weekend Service Increased
The KansasCity.com site reports that ridership is exceeding expectations on the new streetcar line.
After almost three weeks of service, Kansas City’s downtown streetcar ridership continues to surpass projections despite two service interruptions during the week.
The Streetcar Authority Board was told the system recorded 128,760 rider trips which averages out to more than 6,400 trips per day, according to figures provided Thursday to the Streetcar Authority board of directors. Weekdays have averaged 4,615 daily and weekends 9,110.
“The numbers have far exceeded where we thought we would start,” Tom Gerend, Streetcar Authority executive director, told the board. Estimates prior to operning were a daily average of 2,700 riders. Weekend and evening ridership is also higher leading the board to approve operating a third car on Sundays.
The board is also considering buying a fifth streetcar, though that could cost $3.2 million and take 18 months.
Streetcar Authority Executive Director Tom Gerend said “We’ve created a new social space in downtown,” Gerend said, noting that the vehicles are filled with diverse crowds that include downtown workers, residents and visitors.
"Unlike individuals driving alone in cars, the streetcars motivate people to talk to each other" said Susan Ford Robertson, board vice chairwoman. "As people stand in the cars or sit facing each other, they just naturally strike up conversations" she said.