KC is close to buying 4 streetcars

05/15/2014 2:33 PM

05/15/2014 2:33 PM

After many years of talk, study and controversy, Kansas City is finally on the verge of ordering four shiny new streetcars to run on the downtown starter line.

The City Council’s transportation and infrastructure committee approved the $18 million purchase unanimously on Thursday.

Now if the full council approves it next week, as expected, delivery time should be about 18 months.

No, they don’t exactly churn them out like Buicks. It takes time to build modern streetcars, especially with so many other cities putting in or adding to their streetcar systems.

However, the vehicles are expected to arrive in plenty of time for the 2015 completion of the track system that will run along Main Street from the River Market to Union Station.

The model name of the 145-passenger vehicles doesn’t exactly skip off the tongue. But officials say passengers will like riding on the URBOS 3 Platform Vehicle, built by in Elmira, N.Y., by CAF USA Inc.

There will be no climbing up and in, as one does when entering a bus. The unit’s floors will be level with the platforms, which is also a plus for people in wheelchairs.

The purchase price came in within the system’s $20 million budget for vehicles. Officials said that by piggybacking their order on top of one put in by Cincinnati, they got a good deal and faster service than they might have had if Kansas City went out to bid on its own.

Total cost of the starter line is expected to top $100 million, paid for with federal funds and money raised from sales taxes and property assessments in the downtown streetcar district.

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