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Monday, May 6, 2019, marks the KC Streetcar’s third anniversary, or birthday, in downtown Kansas City.
On May 6, 2016, the KC Streetcar system opened to much fanfare after five years of planning, design and construction. Since opening day, the KC Streetcar system completed 6,195,424 passenger trips and traveled 397,287 miles with a daily ridership average of 5,694. Streetcar ridership has increased every year since 2016. In 2017, ridership was 2,060,327, and in 2018 ridership was 2,108,586.
“The KC Streetcar is the most successful streetcar in the country,” said Mayor Sly James. “We worked with the public and private sectors to build it first and foremost for our residents and all the visitors who come to Kansas City. It will continue to be a catalyst for tourism and economic development for years to come.”
This year, the KC Streetcar has already completed more than 600,000 trips with January through March experiencing higher ridership numbers than the previous year. Ridership is important but so is safety and reliability. The KC Streetcar has an average on-time performance of 91.5 percent through 2018 and an employee safety record of 365 consecutive days injury free year-to-date.
“2019 has been a very busy year so far, even with the harsh weather conditions this winter and water-soaked spring,” said Tom Gerend, executive director of the KC Streetcar Authority. “The KC Streetcar has logged eleven straight months of year-over-year monthly ridership gains” said Gerend. “Riders are growing and now more than 52 percent of Kansas City residents have ridden the KC Streetcar in the past year. According to a recent citizen satisfaction survey, more than 82 percent of those riding the streetcar are satisfied or very satisfied with the service. This means we have a strong repeat rider audience, which is great news for our future and all of downtown.”
The KC Streetcar isn’t the only thing in downtown experiencing great numbers. Downtown Kansas City, Missouri, is on the rise in employment, residential, economic development, and visitor numbers. According to the Downtown Council, the downtown employment rate is 123,191 and the current downtown residential population is 28,191, that’s a 37% increase since 2013.
The downtown Transportation Development District (TDD), which is responsible for the funding of the ongoing operations and maintenance of the KC Streetcar, has seen tremendous growth since 2013. Since 2013, the TDD has seen more than $3 Billion in development with another $1.2 Billon planned for the future. Additionally, according to the Jackson County Assessor:
As recently reported by Visit KC, in 2018 Kanas City hosted nearly 300 conventions, which broke down to 366,607 convention attendees, 354,113 room nights and an $275 million in economic impact. They also estimate that the Kansas City region welcomed 25.2 million visitors, which included business travelers.
The KC Streetcar is utilized by tourists and visitors to Kansas City but according to a 2017 survey conducted by ETC, a majority of streetcar riders are Kansas City Metro residents and either work or live downtown:
“The KC Streetcar was the inspiration for our name, décor and theme,” said Kurt Oliver, owner of the new Streetcar Grille & Tavern set to open at 1580 Main Street. “We’ve seen the success other businesses have experienced on the streetcar route and we wanted to locate where we can grow our business alongside the growth of the KC Streetcar,” continued Oliver. Streetcar Grille & Tavern is estimated to open later this summer and is marketed as an upscale and family-friendly tavern.
The KC Streetcar Authority and the City of Kansas City, Missouri, continue to look towards the future with two extensions planned as well as growth for the current line. Two new streetcars are on order, with the first planned to be in Kansas City later this month. The addition of more streetcar vehicles is a direct response to rider demand and decrease wait times for streetcar passengers. Additionally, construction of two new shelters has begun at the North Loop streetcar stops at 7th & Main.
It takes a dedicated team to keep this fleet running seven days a week, 365 days a year. The KC Streetcar system is managed by the KC Streetcar Authority (KCSA) in partnership with the City of Kansas City, Missouri, the KC Area Transit Authority, and Herzog Transit (HTSI). HTSI is the contractor responsible for the daily operations and maintenance of the KC Streetcar system and employee 30 individuals as part of the KC Streetcar team.
KC Streetcar ridership is calculated by Automated Passenger Counters located over each door of each streetcar vehicle. Passengers are counted each time they board vehicles no matter how many vehicles they use to travel from their origin to their destination. More information about KC Streetcar ridership can be found on our website https://kcstreetcar.org/ridership.