By Kevin Collison
The Kansas City streetcar celebrates its first birthday Saturday at Union Station and is expected to host its two-millionth rider either late today or tomorrow.
Supporters hope the success of the 2.2-mile starter line linking the River Market and Crown Center boosts the effort now underway to extend the line down Main Street to the University of Missouri at Kansas City.
“The success of the streetcar is apparent to everybody,” Matthew Webster, vice president of Ameritas, told the Downtown Council board Thursday morning.
“Ridership is ahead of estimates and development is booming along the line. We hope it transfers to voter support this time…our greatest challenge is getting the word out to people.”
The Kansas City Regional Transit Alliance is leading the campaign to persuade voters living along the planned Main Street expansion route to support the effort.
The deadline for people living within the proposed new Transportation Development District to vote on the plan is May 23. People within the current downtown streetcar TDD also can vote because it would be merged if the project moves forward.
Kansas City Councilwoman Jolie Justus told the board the TDD vote is challenging because participants must cast their ballot through a state-mandated process. The TDD election is being run by the 16th Circuit Court and ballots are available on its website.
Justus said canvassers have been hired to educate people living within the proposed TDD expansion boundaries about the project and if necessary, help them to cast their votes. A committee, Connect KC, has been established to help the effort.
“This is something we really need to do to keep this city moving forward,” Justus said. “You have until May 23, don’t let it sneak up on you. It’s quite a process.”
What’s being billed as a “Happy First Birthday KC Streetcar!” event will be held at the Union Station East Plaza this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Food trucks, birthday cake, art, clowns and a ‘truck-a-palooza’ exhibit for kids are planned.