City leaders display modern streetcar at Union Station, ask for feedback

KANSAS CITY, MIssouri - City leaders want your feedback on whether to bring a modern streetcar downtown. A vehicle will be on display at Union Station downtown Tuesday.

The modern streetcar would travel along a two mile stretch of downtown, including Union Station-Crown Center area, the Crossroads and the River Market area.

Supporters say a streetcar is smaller and less expensive than light rail.  It would also run on a track built into the street so it doesn't require a separate lane.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James will take the first tour at 6:45 a.m.  Then from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., the public is invited to check out the streetcar, possible routes and complete comment cards.

Instead of being funded by a city-wide tax, the streetcar would be funded by a sales or property tax in the downtown corridor.

The Transit Regional Alliance estimates the modern streetcar will cost between $80 and 100 million dollars.  A spokesperson says that's at least 10 million less than what the lightrail was projected to cost. 

The Mayor says he supports the proposal 100 percent.  If all goes according to plan, he says it could become a reality by May 2015.

"We have to start somewhere.  It will be in an area that attracts a lot of riders and attention.  Then I believe once we finish this two mile run, people will be clamouring to have it in other places and then we'll build from there," said Mayor James.

The modern streetcar wouldn't require city-wide approval like the lightrail.  Instead, the plan is to create a Transit Development District downtown. That district, and only that district, would vote on a sales or property tax to fund approximately half of the streetcar.  The goal is to get the other half from the Federal Transit Administration.

The Kansas City Regional Transit Alliance says Portland, Oregon has a modern streetcar system in place.  The city has seen approximately one billion dollars in growth along the streetcar route.

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