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More than 32,000 ride Kansas City streetcars in first three days

Kansas City streetcars open with fanfare, huge crowds

Kansas Citians and people from around the metro area were on hand as Kansas City celebrated the KC Streetcar on Friday, May, 6, 2016, with a grand opening celebration at Union Station. City officials, including Mayor Sly James, were on hand to off
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Kansas Citians and people from around the metro area were on hand as Kansas City celebrated the KC Streetcar on Friday, May, 6, 2016, with a grand opening celebration at Union Station. City officials, including Mayor Sly James, were on hand to off

Ridership on Kansas City’s new streetcars blew away projections on the first weekend of operation with more than 32,000 passengers.

The Kansas City Streetcar Authority said ridership peaked Saturday with 14,650 people hopping on along the 2.2-mile route between the River Market and Union Station.

That was more than the 12,230 people who rode the streetcar on Friday, opening day. But because of festivities, the cars did not start carrying passengers until about 11 a.m. that day. Sunday ridership was 5,448, according to the Streetcar Authority.

But that was still more than twice the 2,700 average daily projected ridership once the novelty wears off.

Numbers for Monday, the first workday of streetcar operations, were not available.

Early Monday afternoon, however, Streetcar Authority spokeswoman Donna Mandelbaum reported “packed cars with people going to lunch. People are waiting at the platforms.”

The only glitch was an indicator light on a door that went out Saturday. The car was taken to the maintenance shop and was back in service in about half an hour.

Parking along the route on Main Street was not allowed for the first two days of operation but was permitted again beginning Sunday. Mandelbaum said she had no reports that any vehicles had to be towed for not being parked within the white line as required.

There also were no reports of disturbances or other problems among the riders.

Because ridership was so high on the first few days, the streetcars were making every stop, so the average wait time between cars may have been a few minutes longer than the projected 10 minutes. But as usage settles into a pattern, officials don’t expect the streetcars to make every stop.

The Streetcar Authority continued on Monday to have ambassadors on board to assist anyone who needed it, but there were no longer ambassadors assigned to the boarding platforms.

“It’s very self-managed at this point,” Mandelbaum said.

Go to kcstreetcar.org for more information.

Matt Campbell: 816-234-4902, @MattCampbellKC

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