The Kansas City Streetcar Authority has finally signed a five-year, $15.8 million contract with St. Joseph-based Herzog Transit Services to run the new downtown streetcar system.
The authority has been negotiating the contract for more than a year. Herzog Transit Services was first selected as the preferred streetcar operator in 2014, beating out RDMT, another leading rail contractor.
Herzog Transit Services will hire vehicle operators and other new employees. Job descriptions are coming soon.
The contract signals the transition from streetcar construction, which has filled downtown’s streets with holes and orange cones for more than a year, to testing and operations of the new 2.2-mile system, which will run from the River Market to near Union Station.
Herzog Contracting Corp., also part of the St. Joseph firm, handled the streetcar construction, along with California-based Stacy and Witbeck.
City officials expect the first of four streetcars to arrive at the end of this month, and at least three vehicles will require extensive testing before they can start to carry passengers. The city hopes the system can be up and running by spring 2016.
The fixed-price operations and maintenance agreement include startup activities as well as operations and maintenance. The first year’s base cost is pegged at $2.57 million, with gradual annual increases to $3.26 million in the fifth year, contingent on meeting certain performance standards.
Herzog Transit Services operates 12 other rail-based passenger projects in the U.S., including vintage streetcars at the Port of Los Angeles, but this will be its first experience running modern streetcars.
A director of operations, a director of safety and security, and a director of maintenance have already been hired and are on the job.
The company expects to hire 14 vehicle operators, two supervisors and at least three maintenance technicians, said Streetcar Authority spokeswoman Donna Mandelbaum. Job descriptions and other information should be available in a few weeks at www.kcstreetcar.org.