Kansas City streetcars open with fanfare, huge crowds
Kansas City’s new downtown streetcar system is exceeding ridership expectations.
The Streetcar Authority reported Tuesday that the system carried 57,857 riders in its first full week, May 6-13. The streetcars run 2.2 miles from the River Market to Union Station.
The passenger numbers included 12,230 riders on opening day — Friday, May 6 — and 14,648 on Saturday, May 7, which was also part of grand opening celebrations.
During the first workweek, ridership ranged from 3,945 on Monday, May 9, to 6,975 on Friday, May 13. That exceeded the average projections of 2,700 per day.
“We knew people would ride it,” said Streetcar Authority spokeswoman Donna Mandelbaum. “But we didn’t realize the numbers would be that large.”
She noted that more than 10,000 people rode the streetcars on Saturday, May 14, a busy day with Rockfest, the ballet at the Kauffman Performing Arts Center and other events downtown.
The system is designed so wait times are generally 10 to 15 minutes, but some people waited longer than that Saturday. Mandelbaum said there’s a bit of a learning curve with people figuring out how to get on and off the streetcars in an orderly manner, especially when they are packed, so there have been some delays.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx will ride the Kansas City streetcars when he comes to town Friday for a Smart Cities Challenge meeting. Kansas City is one of seven cities nationwide that is vying for $50 million in funding to explore the transportation of the future.