By Kevin Collison
The Streetcar Authority and the city are planning to upgrade the North Loop stop at Seventh and Main, installing full shelters on both sides of the street in response to higher than anticipated demand.
The North Loop stop is near several residential buildings and parking lots that have become popular park-and-ride locations on weekends.
“We originally didn’t have shelters there because the projections were it would be a low rider stop,” said Donna Mandelbaum, spokeswoman of the KC Streetcar. “But it’s been popular with residents and its something riders have been asking for.”
The new North Loop shelters are expected to be installed this fall. A contract has not been selected, but they’re being designed by HDR and fabricated by Dimensional Innovations, the firm that’s built other streetcar stations.
Mandelbaum said the new shelters will be similar to those at 12th and Main.
She said a factor driving ridership at that location is the presence of several large parking lots owned by Tower Properties. The city negotiated an agreement with Tower to allow those lots to be used by streetcar riders on weekends.
In a related development, the Streetcar Authority reported it had its highest weekly ridership to date during the first week of this month.
Almost 79,000 people rode the downtown streetcar that week, which included the popular First Fridays event in the Crossroads Art District.
This July’s First Friday also set a record for daily ridership with 19,181 rides that day. It broke the previous record set on May 6, 2017 by nearly 2,000 riders.
“The public response has been amazing,” Tom Gerend, executive director of the Streetcar Authority, said in a statement.
“Our service is consistently carrying thousands of passengers a day and has helped redefine the downtown Kansas City experience for residents, employees and visitors.”
The summer months tend to be the busiest for ridership, with the previous months of July being the highest months for ridership.
July 2016 was the highest monthly ridership to date with 233,683 rides, followed by July 2017 with 230,925 rides for the month, according to a release from the Authority.
The Streetcar Authority is now pursing a plan to extend the line south from downtown on Main Street to the University of Missouri-Kansass City. Voters living in the Transportation Development District recently approved local funding for the project.
The Streetcar Authority is expected to announce soon how tracks would be aligned on the route, either the center of Main or the outside lanes. The agency also plans to seek $100 million in federal funding for the project.
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