Running from the River Market on the north end to Union Station and Crown Center on the south, the Kansas City (KC) Streetcar connects all the downtown neighborhoods with 16 platform stops and 2 miles of track. The KC Streetcar opened for service on May 6, 2016 to much fanfare. Five months after streetcar operations began, the KC Streetcar logged in its 1,000,000th ride, and ridership topped 2 million in 2017.
A recent ridership survey shows that KC residents are embracing this mode of transportation. Seventy-six percent of the riders are KC Metro residents. Thirty-eight percent of the riders are choosing to live Downtown with 43% using the streetcar to get to work. The KC Streetcar is also attracting riders who have a choice. Sixty-five percent of streetcar riders are choosing to ride even though they have a vehicle they could use.
These riders are spending money along the way. Fifty percent of the weekday riders are shopping dining or stopping in for some entertainment. Others are heading off to work. Thirty-eight percent of the riders are using the system to get to work.
As ridership continues to grow and economic benefits continue to rise, so does development. Since its service inception, Kansas City has seen $2.2B in active downtown development, 2,500 residential units under construction, 3,900 more planned, 1,000+ hotel rooms under construction, and 7 surface parking lots have been converted to mixed-use or are under construction.
A recent editorial by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Editorial Board stated that a transit system’s appearance, performance and accessibility are barometers of a community’s cordiality and sophistication, factors that big employers take into account in deciding to invest in one city or another. Looks like the KC Streetcar has put out the welcome mat for Kansas City and people are buying in.