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It's happening: KC Streetcar officially rolls

Posted: 5:38 AM, May 06, 2016
Updated: 2016-05-06 23:19:20-04
Kansas City Streetcar celebrates grand opening

The Kansas City Streetcar celebrated its grand opening Friday and Saturday with a series of street parties and celebrations along the streetcar line.

WATCH: See Patrick Fazio's interview with the mayor in the video player above

PHOTOS: Kansas City Streetcar service begins downtown

The grand opening began 10 a.m. Friday. Celebrations included carnival rides, dining, shopping, arts and more on both Friday and Saturday.

Click here for a full schedule of grand opening activities.

 

 

By Friday night, more than 10,000 people had taken a ride on the streetcar, according to a spokesman.

PLAYLIST:  Our KC Streetcar soundtrack gets things rolling 

The city's newest form of transportation will come with some safety hazards for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists. 

Here are some tips on how to be safe around the KC Streetcar.

Steer clear of the wires
The streetcar wires carry 750 volts of direct current power to the track, and they stay on 24/7. Don't risk electrocuting yourself.

Use the crosswalks
The streetcar travels at 20 miles an hour, which means it takes 60 feet for it to come to a complete stop. Only cross the street when the sign says "walk."

Cyclists cross at a 90 degree angle
If you're on a bicycle, have the wheels hit the tracks head on. Use a 90 degree angle for wheelchairs, scooters, skateboards and strollers.

No distracted walking
If you text and walk, it's a good time to stop that habit. The streetcar is quiet, so look, listen and unplug before you cross the street.

The KC Streetcar had activities at:

  • Union Station
  • Crossroads
  • Power & Light
  • River Market
  • KC Public Library

RELATED |  Behind-the-scenes tour of KC Streetcar operations center

It's free to ride the streetcar's two-mile Union Station to River Market route. 

Hours of operation 

Monday - Thursday: 6 a.m. - 12 a.m. 

Friday: 6 a.m. - 2 a.m. 

Saturday: 7 a.m. - 2 a.m.  

Sunday: 7 a.m. - 10 p.m. 

Watch KC Streetcar Do's and Don'ts: What you can and cannot bring on the streetcar (If you cannot see the media player below, click here to watch.)  

Visit the KC Streetcar's website for more information. 

First people on the streetcar

Hundreds of people lined up to take part in the grand opening of the streetcar. The Now KC's Alyson Bruner talked with some of the very first people to get on board the streetcar, including Howard Callahan.

Howard Callahan was the first person in line to ride the Kansas Streetcar on its opening day.

"I got here around seven this morning to be the first person in line. I'm really excited to be a part of history," he said.

Watch the video below to hear from some of the first people in line:

People from all over the US go for a ride

Kansas City played host to people from all over the country, looking at how the streetcar opening went to model the way for their own cities. 41 Action News met people from Milwaukee and Cincinnati, both cities launching streetcars in the coming years.

Derek Bauman is a volunteer with the Cincinnati streetcar. He said, "We wanted to see basically how you did it and maybe take some lessons learned and go back to Cincinnati and have a great opening day celebration for our streetcar like Kansas City did today."

Cincy's streetcar will open in September. Bauman is hoping for the same party atmosphere First Friday's brought in KC.

Bauman said, "We're going to try to recreate that and we certainly had our notebooks out."

Businesses say streetcar on right track

From inside the Opera House Coffee and Food Emporium, Nathaniel Beam watched Kansas City’s first streetcar roll down the street.  

It’s an event he and others at the restaurant were excited to see unfold. Their business is steps away from the River Market North platform. 

“Already we have generated a lot of interest from having a platform here,” Beam said. “Just from the idea that people can come down here, just the beginning phases have already helped our businesses."

Businesses waiting to jump onboard

Other business managers along the route, like Kris Chen of Yoki, are skeptical of the new city transportation. 

“At the beginning of the construction, it definitely affected business a little because the roads were closed,” he said. “Right now it’s up and running and looks amazing, but we do not know what kind of crowds it will bring to the River Market area.” 

Businesses located a quarter mile in all directions from the streetcar route have to pay a streetcar tax - a 1 percent increase in sales tax. The money will help pay the bonds the city issued to help pay for the streetcar. 

Beam said he believes an increase in business will help offset the costs. Chen is a little more wary. 

“It’s a hit or miss opportunity, I would say,” Chen said. 

There’s also an additional property tax on businesses, homes, city-owned property and nonprofits within the area. 

Parking

To ensure a smooth ride and grand opening day, the city closed Main Street between 20th Street and Perishing Road on Friday and Saturday. The city also prohibited parking along Main Street from Perishing Road to Seventh Street. 

“Usually cars are always parked here, clearly they want all the focus to be on the streetcar, but it’s kind of crazy they did shut it down for that,” said Ty Fredrickson, who went downtown to see the streetcar in action. 

Even after Saturday, drivers will have to make adjustments when driving or parking near the streetcar. 

Signs are posted all over warning drivers about proper parking along the route. They warn that drivers must park inside the white lines or will risk getting a ticket or towed. 

Since enforcement began in January, the city has towed seven cars. In March, a Mercedes parked over the white line was actually hit by a streetcar going for a test run. 

“That’s kind of weird, you would think that they would want it as normal as possible,” said Fredrickson, just before he walked to his car parked on a side street. 

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