KC Streetcar pays off big time for locals

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Saturday marks the first anniversary of the Kansas City Streetcar line. While weekends are by far the busiest time for the street car, locals say it's the day to day use that's saving them money.

"I use it almost every day," said KCMO resident James Wehmuller. "With the streetcar coming last May and the fact that I work downtown, it let us sell one of our cars."

After James and his wife got married last year they chose to live on Main Street knowing the streetcar would be coming soon.

"Anywhere else we were living that wasn't on the streetcar line would have required two cars," he said. "It just was really no contest. I did the math between property taxes, licensing, your auto loan payment, insurance, gasoline, that comes to a $10,000 raise basically."

"This has kind of been a goal that we wanted -- that we would help them realize that public transportation is a great choice," said Donna Mandelbaum, Communications Manager for KC Streetcar. "We have heard from those who live downtown, especially in the River Market area, that some of them are going down to a one car family especially if one of them works in this area. There is no need for them to have two vehicles."

The KC Streetcar has seen an average daily ridership of more than 5,000 people, nearly double what it had hoped for.

"We're actually approaching our 2 millionth ride, which is unbelievable," said Donna. "I think people are really embracing it as something to do downtown, we are seeing more faces downtown and more activities."

"I take it to the office, the grocery store, my gym, getting a hair cut, the post office," said James.

As more people discover the many uses of the line, KC Streetcar is looking to add more cars to its fleet.

"We are in the process of purchasing two more streetcars for this line alone," said Donna. "We have the funding to do that and now we have to go forth to the City Council to approve us purchasing those and then we can add more cars to this line."

The KC Streetcar is also hoping to expand the line.

"It was never meant to be just a downtown line," said Donna. "We are looking at studying future routes, not just one but two. One that would take us to Berkley Riverfront Park, we are actually studying that right now."

The other possible expansion would take the streetcar south to the Plaza and UMKC.

"It would be such an amazing asset for all of the students down there as well as all of the residents and people that work in mid-town, Westport, the Plaza and Brookside."

That plan will be put up for a vote.

"We will build it if people want it, if they would like to fund it the same way the downtown streetcar is," said Donna.

If you would like to celebrate the one year anniversary of the line you can head to Union Station tomorrow from 11 am to 2 pm for food, games and music.

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