Kansas City Streetcar Ridership Up 2.6 Percent Last Year, Fed Shutdown May Delay Word on Expansion

The Kansas City Streetcar ridership was up nine months in 2018 vs 2017 resulting in a ridership increase of 2.6 percent in 2018 over the previous year. The streetcar attracted 2,114,886 rides last year compared to 2,060,327 in 2017. Overall, more than 5.5 million people have ridden the line since it opened in May 2016.

“The continued growth in ridership is what we hoped,” said Executive Director Tom Gerend. “It’s a reflection of all the activity downtown with new commercial and residential development.”

In early 2019, PortKC is expected to make an announce about how the planned extension of the streetcar line from the River Market to Berkley Riverfront Park and possibly the Isle of Capri casino could be funded and designed.

On a separate and smaller planned extension, the current government shutdown may delay the Streetcar Authority’s application status for $151 million in federal funding to extend the line to the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

“The current shutdown is concerning,” Gerend said.  “People at the department (Federal Transportation Agency) responsible for reviewing applications are not at work.

“We need people on the federal side of the project to move things forward.”

Gerend said the continuing solid performance of the existing streetcar line helps the authority make a better case for expanding. “It works well with our projections for the future,” he said. “We know we have strong demand and people have supported it since the beginning. With all the new cranes going, those are great signs that downtown is a healthy place and the streetcar will be in demand for years to come.”

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