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After delay, first streetcar for new Kansas City downtown line expected to arrive in October


KANSAS CITY, Missouri — Kansas City officials say the supplier of streetcars for the city's new downtown line is promising a new delivery date.

The cars originally were supposed arrive in the city by June, but the manufacturer pushed the delivery date back and told city officials that they could arrive as late as December, The Kansas City Star (http://bit.ly/1hJtWOm) reported.

CAF USA now says the first of four cars will be delivered by Oct. 29, said Deputy Public Works Director Ralph Davis, adding that he was pleased with that progress.

But he told the City Council on Thursday that he's still not satisfied with CAF USA's proposed delivery dates for the other three vehicles, which he declined to specify, and said that he'll keep pushing them to accelerate the pace.

Some city officials are concerned the streetcars won't arrive in time for use by the thousands of people who attend the Big 12 conference basketball tournament in March. The city must conduct months of testing before the streetcars can be used by the public, and was hoping to get the cars by late September to allow time for the testing.

Davis said he doesn't know when the system might be ready for public use. He emphasized that his top priority is having a safe system rather than meeting an artificial start date.

"The actual start of operation is the hardest question to answer because it has the most variables," he said. "There's a lot of wildcards."

Mayor Sly James said he remains optimistic the city can open its two-mile downtown streetcar line to the public in time for the Big 12.

"It's really just an opportunity to get it going off with a bang," James said, noting it would be a huge boon to downtown merchants and restaurants that have been coping with streetcar construction for more than a year.

Streetcar Authority Executive Director Tom Gerend said CAF USA knows the city isn't happy about the delivery delay overall and that the company is working hard to rectify the situation.

A message seeking comment from CAF USA spokeswoman was left by the newspaper.

Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com

This story has been corrected to show the first of four cars to arrive in October, not all four fours.

Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com

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