streetcar

For the first time since 1957, streetcars are once again running in Kansas City, Mo.  Hear from KCUR reporters Laura Zeigler and Cody Newill, riders waiting to take a ride, and one federal official's thoughts on how Kansas City's streetcar plan could serve as a model for other metros. 

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City’s streetcar enjoyed a busy opening weekend, with more than 32,000 estimated passengers in the first two days, according to the Kansas City Streetcar Authority's Twitter account.

First-time riders were eager to share their experiences on social media:

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City's highly-anticipated streetcar opened last weekend, to great fanfare

But once the opening ceremony died down, business owners along the streetcar route returned to business as usual.

Soroush Rajabnik is the general manager of Burrito Bros. in the City Market. He says the weekend was slightly busier than normal, though he thinks it was due to a combination of the streetcar opening, families going out for Mother's Day and the nice weather.

Laura Ziegler KCUR 89-3

More than 300 people gathered downtown Friday to watch officials ranging from the mayor to the acting administrator of the Federal Transit Administration open Kansas City's new streetcar line.

Mayor Sly James acknowledged it had been a long and sometimes difficult process to secure the streetcar.

"This is our moment," the mayor said to the jubilant crowd. 

Acting Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration Carolyn Flowers said in an interview that Kansas City used the special Transportation Development District in a new way to its credit.  

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

After months (some would say decades) of anticipation, Kansas City will once again have a downtown streetcar line. It opens Friday. You may have heard the buzz and the hype. You might have read about the delays and labor disputes. But now, really, all you care about is this question: when can I ride it? 

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

After $102 million and more than five years of design, construction and testing, Kansas City is about to get a taste of streetcars again.

The 2.2 mile starter line marks the first time the city has brought back public rail transit since 1957, when the historic line was shuttered. For KC Streetcar Authority Executive Director Tom Gerend, the process has already been worth the effort.

Courtesy Photo, Steve Paul

In many ways, Kansas City is a different city than it was 30 years ago. But in some ways, it’s the same.

Take it from two people whose job has been to write about it for the last three decades or so.

Editorial page writers Barbara Shelly and Steve Paul recently took buyouts at The Kansas City Star after 32 and 41-year-careers at the paper, respectively.

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

After years of planning, construction and testing, Kansas City's streetcar line will open to the public on May 6.

The Kansas City Streetcar Authority and the city of Kansas City announced the launch Thursday morning. Chris Hernandez with the city's communications department says the plan is to make the opening into a party of sorts that will last through May 7.

Kansas City needs an effective public transportation system to build density, but maybe we need density to build said transportation system. As the streetcars prepare to debut next month, we discuss where this system is headed.

Guests:

  • Daniel Serda, InSite Planning, LLC
  • DuRon Netsell, Hyde Park resident
  • Bryan Stalder, Historic Northeast resident
Cody Newill / KCUR

Kansas City's downtown streetcar made its first powered run along its 2.2 mile route early Thursday.

KC Streetcar Authority workers tested visibility for streetcar operators and made sure the vehicle maintains contact with overhead electric lines.

Streetcar spokeswoman Meghan Jansen says maintenance crews would monitor the car and take notes as they go from the Singleton Yard maintenance facility south to Union Station and back.

Briana O'Higgins / KCUR 89.3

The Kansas City streetcar took its first ride through downtown Kansas City early Friday. After a series of delays, the first car arrived three days ago from the manufacturer in Elmira, New York.

A handful of streetcar construction workers, city officials and officials from the KC Streetcar Authority rode in the vehicle while others walked along side streetcar #801 as a massive tow truck pulled it through the River Market.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

The arrival on Monday morning of the city's first working streetcar in more than 50 years was overshadowed by the Royals' World Series victory. But dozens of residents, city officials, and transit leaders, gathered in the River Market to watch streetcar #801 roll onto the tracks.

"I don't think I could find anything to make me any happier, frankly," says Kansas City Mayor Sly James.

KCTRANSIT.com

The KC Streetcar Authority could prevent the city's downtown streetcar line from receiving any federal grant funds for operations, according to a report from the City Auditor's Office.

The report published Thursday says the Federal Transit Administration requires recipients of grants for transit operations to be "procured through a full and open competition." 

City of Kansas City. MO

The arrival of Kansas City’s first streetcar has been delayed – again.The manufacturer CAF USA, originally agreed to a summer delivery but later had to push it to this week.Now, it looks like it will be November before the first streetcar gets to Kansas City.

Streetcar Authority spokeswoman Donna Mandelbaum isn’t willing to call it a delay just yet.

“All in all, it’s just a few business days behind what we thought could be the delivery date,” says Mandelbaum.

Cody Newill / KCUR

The KC Streetcar Authority has almost completed its streetcar vehicle maintenance facility and will soon turn on power to streetcar cables to begin testing the line.

The facility, named after longtime transit advocate E. Crichton "Kite" Singleton, sits at 3rd Street and Holmes. Streetcar maintenance workers are expected to be hired in November and will take care of the streetcar vehicles in the building's maintenance bays.

Once the final touches are put together at the facility, more than 20 employees will work there.

City of Kansas City, Missouri

This week's promise that the first of Kansas City's four streetcars will be delivered by Oct. 29 improved the chances of having the starter line open as hoped for Big-12 Tournament crowds in March.

A delivery date moved back from June to December would have made a March start virtually impossible.

City Manager Troy Sculte, streetcar project director Ralph Davis and Streetcar Authority Executive Director Tom Gerend all vowed Thursday to do their best to meet the March start goal.  And all believed it is possible if everything goes right. 

As Kansas City continues to wait for its streetcars, Up To Date asks Executive Director of the Streetcar Authority Tom Gerend what is causing the delay and what we can expect when the cars finally do arrive. 

City of Kansas City. MO

Two city officials who went to Elmira, New York, to check on progress and attempt to speed up the process, if possible, have returned with better, if not definitely good news.  CAF U.S.A., the company custom-building four streetcars for Kansas City's starter line says the first car should be delivered by Oct. 29.

Earlier, CAF had alerted the city to the fact that delivery could be as late as December.  Because of DOT testing requirements, that would have made it unlikely Kansas City could have had a streetecar running in time for the Big 12 Tournament in March.

HDR / City of Kansas City

Kansas City could get more information on when its new streetcars will be delivered as early as Tuesday.

Tom Gerend, executive director of the Streetcar Authority and City Engineer Ralph Davis are in Elmira, New York at facilities of CAF U.S.A on what would be a routine progress visit – except the first streetcar was due in June. All four were supposed to be delivered by this month.

The Streetcar Authority Board meets on Thursday and Davis and Gerund hope to be able to report on whether the streetcar line can open in time for the Big-12 tournament as planned.

Courtesy photo / KCATA

Four months into his new job as president and CEO of the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, Joe Reardon has several things to brag about, and a few still on the to-do list.

The former mayor of Kansas City, Kansas, appreciates being able to focus on a single mission for a change.

“It's an exciting time, and the first four months have been great. We're singularly focused on connecting people ...  I'm loving every minute of it,” Reardon told Steve Kraske on Up To Date.

His charge is to connect multiple jurisdictions across the metro that have their own public transit system into a single, metro-wide system, under the brand, “Ride KC.”

“When we're out on a day-to-day basis, we don't pay attention to the jurisdictions. And this economy doesn't either, so were trying to develop a system that allows us to really answer to that call,” he said.

Willoughby Design, Inc.

The Kansas City streetcars could be very late arriving. And Mayor Sly James says that is becoming a “critical issue.”

City officials say they are having “very strong conversations” with CAF USA, the company building the streetcars after CAF USA notified the city that there could be a “significant delay” beyond the September delivery date for the first car. That date had already been moved back from June.

The city was hoping to have two cars tested and in operation for visitors to the Big 12 Tournament in March. 

HDR / City of Kansas City

Kansas City and Cincinnati are in it together. Their streetcars are being built by the same company as part of the same order – to be delivered next month – allowing both cities a year for required testing before initiating rider service in 2016.

But CAF USA, the company building the streetcars said earlier this month delivery could be late. Leading to speculation the grand opening schedules would have to be pushed back.

Kansas City officials had little to say except that they had put the pressure on CAF to deliver on time or close to it.

Cody Newill / KCUR

After a year of construction, crews have finally completed laying Kansas City's downtown streetcar tracks. 

More than 100 people showed up to the project's "River Market Rail Rally" Wednesday, which celebrated the streetcar's progress, as well as new artwork that will be showcased on two other stops in the River Market neighborhood near downtown.

Cody Newill / KCUR

For the mayor of Kansas City, life is not boring.

Fresh off a triumphant re-election campaign, Sly James is set to face a city council with nine new faces— something he says will be a challenge.

“It is difficult to integrate nine people onto a 12 person council,” James told Up To Date host Steve Kraske on Wednesday.

HDR, City of Kansas City

In less than a week, Kansas City, Missouri voters will go to the polls to decide on the makeup of their next City Council.

One of the most closely-competitive races is for the the Northland's 2nd District At-large seat now held by Ed Ford, who is not seeking re-election because of term limits.

Running for the 2nd District seat is Teresa Loar, former two-term City Council member and two-term member of the North Kansas City School Board, who says she has lived in the northland for almost 50 years.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

The Kansas City, Missouri, City Council elections are fast approaching, and several of the races look to be closely contested.

One of those is in the 4th district, where former Jackson County Executive Katheryn Shields is giving incumbent Jim Glover a spirited run.

Both Shields and Glover joined Up To Date host Steve Kraske at the KCUR studios to discuss some of the city's most pressing issues.

Cody Newill / KCUR

Kansas City's downtown streetcar line is on schedule for its tracks to be fully laid out by mid-summer, according to streetcar officials.

KC Streetcar spokeswoman Donna Mandelbaum says that construction is coming to a head just under a year after the city officially broke ground on the project.

"This summer we'll see the completion of track construction, we'll be finished up on the electrical systems and our station stop construction," Mandelbaum said. "We really are in the home stretch now."

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Kansas City Council has approved a $15 million agreement with San Francisco based Cisco Systems Inc., to turn a two mile stretch of the streetcar line into a "Smart City" network. 

The project calls for the creation of interactive digital kiosks that share information about events and city services with pedestrians.

Data about infrastructure and traffic will be detected by sensors and sent back to the city in real time.

HDR / City of Kansas City

In just over two months, Kansas Citians will take to the polls to elect 12 council members that will lead the city for the next four years.

Due to term-limits, half of the seats held by incumbents will be wide open, which means that if Mayor Sly James is re-elected, which looks likely, he will have a council very different from the one he enjoyed his first four years.

Patrick Quick / KCUR

Kansas City’s downtown is like an adolescent going through an awkward phase.

It’s part of growing up, and we’re excited about where things are headed, but the process is at turns uncomfortable and confusing.

File the parking situation  under “uncomfortable.” That was the basis for Thursday’s conversation on Central Standard.

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