Streetcar will mean independence for some riders

Posted at 8:01 PM, Mar 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-10 10:33:20-05

Testing for the streetcar continued Wednesday in the downtown area.

Enjoying downtown Kansas City can be tough for Jeremy Hoffman and his family.

“When you have an adaptive vehicle, it doesn't fit everywhere, so a lot of the parking around downtown especially is not accessible,” Dianna Villigan, Hoffman’s mother, said.

But the 22-year-old from Smithville with cerebral palsy now has a new way of getting around due to the Kansas City Streetcar.

“There's been a lot of controversy, but for us it's a means of independence,” Villigan said.

On Wednesday a few people with disabilities were welcomed on the streetcar that was designed with them in mind.

“They roll right on and roll right off through the doors once you get on board the car, it's fully accessible,” Tom Gerend, executive director of Kansas City Streetcar Authority, said.

We rode along with the KC Streetcar as it made a test run today.

Posted by 41 Action News - KSHB-TV on Wednesday, March 9, 2016


The ride down the two miles of track is no doubt smooth. As you take in the sights along Main Street at about 15 mph, you can't avoid curious onlookers - both locals and those in town for the Big 12 tournament.

“We're doing some testing during the Big 12 but we're probably limited during the evenings because of all the activities that's happening,” Gerend said.

During Wednesday afternoon's test, a few stops were made allowing visually impaired and wheelchair users to get accustomed to the streetcar.

“Just options for folks like me to be able to get around and helps us break down barriers, it gives us more freedom,” Robbie Makinen, KCATA president and CEO, said.

Hoffman’s mother sees some room for improvement before it opens to the public.

“There were just a couple of tweaks that need to be made as far as time allowance, but at one given time you're never going to have this many wheelchairs probably, so I think it'll be fine,” Villigan said.

Testing on the streetcars will continue through grand opening weekend on May 6.




Andres Gutierrez can be reached at

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