KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City officials hope to add more streetcars to meet high demand from the public.
The streetcar system is nearing its 1 millionth ride. The Kansas City Streetcar Authority voted Thursday to develop a financing plan to add two more streetcars to the four-vehicle fleet, The Kansas City Star reported (http://j.mp/2dyjQTf). The new cars, which likely wouldn’t arrive until 2019, can cost about $3.5 million to $5 million each.
Streetcar Authority member Russ Johnson said the downtown streetcar route was expected to average about 2,700 rides per day, but instead has averaged about 6,000 daily rides since it opened May 6. Ridership on Saturdays often exceeds 10,000 rides.
The Streetcar Authority also said Thursday they’ll conduct a study about extending the starter route north to Riverfront Park.
The streetcar is free to ride. Other cities have started out with a free system and still didn’t have ridership numbers near Kansas City’s.
Kansas City Streetcar Authority executive director Tom Gerend said the system originally had expected to mark its millionth ride next May. But it now expects to hit that mark sometime in October.
Streetcar Authority spokeswoman Donna Mandelbaum said they can generally predict the day when it may occur and are starting to organize a celebration pegged to that timeframe.
While demand will likely drop during the winter, Gerend and Johnson said they expect it to grow as more apartment units and hotels open near the route.
The system can afford to purchase new vehicles. Revenues now well exceed expenses, Gerend said. The budget through April 30 showed sales taxes within the streetcar taxing district came in $1 million over the $4.4 million projection. And total revenues, including property tax assessments, parking assessments and city payments, reached $11.1 million. The system has a $7 million surplus.
Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com