One block into my first KC streetcar ride, I was thinking, “I like this.”
Two blocks down the road, I was thinking we’ve got to extend this to the Plaza. That’s a gimmee. That’ll turn this starter line into something beneficial to tens of thousands of more Kansas Citians.
My reaction happened that quickly. There wasn’t any hesitation. My wife and I got onboard on a rainy Sunday night at Union Station and off we went, feeling like we were really in a big city.
Here’s what I liked:
- It’s faster than I thought it would be. Maybe it was all the warnings that the streetcar would move along even slower than cars. This isn’t an issue. It scoots along just fine — so fast, in fact, that I found myself looking out past the driver in wonder at how the embedded tracks were maintaining their grip on the cars.
- It’s safe. Police officers were aboard both going and coming.
- I loved the views of the city you get when you’re not tied down behind the wheel of a car and have the luxury to look around. Heading south as we left the River Market afforded an impressive view of our skyline as we crossed the Interstate. KC, we look pretty good.
- Approaching a stop, there’s the announcement from that voice that you’re approaching the Power and Light District or the River Market. That moment sounded exactly like what you’re hear in Chicago or New York.
- It’s free. How long that will last, I have no idea. But for now, it doesn’t cost a nickle. That’s somethin’.
One question: Riding it up and down Main, I wondered why planners didn’t design a five- or six-block wide loop for the cars to run on. Extending the line to the east — say to Oak Street — might’ve made sense instead of riding both ways on Main.
Still, I’m a big fan. All this sound hoaky? I don’t care. After 30 years in this town, it was a moment, another sign that KC is moving.
Let’s have the conversation about cost of expansion and how we’re going to pay for it and metrics and the need to focus on basic services another day. Right now, let’s give ourselves a big thumb’s up.
We just did something cool.