streetcar

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.

The Kansas City, Mo., city council votes Thursday afternoon on on ordinance that would keep a reserve fund for streetcar system expansion planning. 

It is part of plans for spending more than $8 million left over from the $10 million it borrowed to jump-start a streetcar system expansion that voters rejected.

The ordinance would devote most of the unspent bond money to already planned projects including a community center tornado shelter and Bartle Hall roof repairs.

Rethinking How To Assess Public Transit Needs

Oct 14, 2014
Ian Fisher / Flickr Creative Commons

Gridlock on the freeway, orange construction cones everywhere, and congestion. Traffic problems abound and cities are scrambling to improve their public transportation. On this edition of Up to Date, Steve Kraske talks with Jarrett Walker, a public transit consultant, about how cities assess their transportation needs. Mr. Walker discusses the importance of improving existing infrastructure and building on it, as well as highlighting the difficulties posed by a sprawling metro area. 

Guest:

The bills are totaled up on what the city of Kansas City, Mo., spent on the voter-rejected Phase 2 of the downtown streetcar system. 

The city council approved contracts with two engineering firms, HDR and Burns and McDonnell, for route planning, studies of construction obstacles and communication with the public.

In total, the two contracts came to about $8.1 million.

Streetcar Project Director Ralph Davis says spending stopped with the defeat of the streetcar expansion at the polls.

Kansas City Streetcar Authority

The Kansas City Streetcar Authority has released the name and branding for the city's new downtown streetcar line.

Created by Willoughby Design, Inc., the package approved by the Authority on Thursday includes a name, icon, color palette and other branding elements.

The transit system's now-official name — KC Streetcar — is "simple, intuitive and universal, giving Kansas City a place among the best transit systems in the world, ” says Tom Trabon, chair of the Streetcar Authority Board.

HDR / City of Kansas City

Not long after Kansas City's proposal to add street car lines along Independence Avenue and Linwood Boulevard went down to defeat in Tuesday’s election, Kansas City Mayor Sly James was in front of microphones expressing his disappointment.

The mayor reiterated those concerns the morning after the election. “Things are not going to get better unless we do something different,” he said in an interview with KCUR.

Rama / Wikimedia Commons

Yesterday's voting results provided some interesting outcomes. A relatively-unknown challenger gave incumbent Sam Brownback a run for his money. The proposed expansion of the Kansas City streetcar tax district supported by Mayor Sly James was voted down.

Today on Up To Date, Steve Kraske talks with with Political Pundits Burdett Loomis and Dave Helling to divine the messages voters were sending about the candidates and issues on state and local ballots.  Then Mayor James joins Steve for his thoughts on the future of the streetcar in Kansas City.

Guests:

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