The Kansas City Streetcar Authority has received the final go ahead to order two additional streetcars that are expected to be delivered in summer 2019.
The decision to purchase two more streetcars at a cost of $4.9 million each was endorsed by the Kansas City Council Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Thursday. It comes at a time when the streetcar’s current fleet of four streetcars is running far beyond the original anticipated capacity.
“We’re far exceeding our ridership forecast,” said Tom Gerend, executive director of the Streetcar Authority. “They’re carrying twice what was anticipated and sometime four times as many.”
The downtown streetcar line celebrated its first anniversary in early May and attracted 2 million riders its first year.
Gerund said the system is performing well financially, with a fully funded reserve and an additional $7 million in its account. The downtown streetcar line is funded by a special Transportation Development District that levies an additional one cent sales tax and special property tax levy with its boundaries.
“The sales tax in the district grew by 58 percent between 2014 and 2016 vs 16 percent citywide,” Gerend noted.
On most days, the Streetcar Authority runs three cars, keeping the fourth in reserve. Because of the stronger than anticipated demand, Gerend said it was necessary to order the additional two cars to assure the system remained dependable and keep up with the anticipated demand.
“The unfortunate news is it’s a two-year time frame to get the cars delivered.”
The Streetcar Authority also is considering extending the existing downtown line to the Berkley Riverfront Park. And there is a vote underway to expand the transportation district to extend the streetcar line south on Main Street to the University of Missouri Kansas City.