This spring, Kansas City will be introducing a streetcar system, with railed vehicles that circulate throughout the metro area. Since 2011, the Kansas City Streetcar Authority (KCSA), the company providing, getting the funding and constructing the streetcar, has been aiming to reintroduce a more modern, efficient version.
“We wanted to implement this for the citizens that live downtown,” KCSA communications manager Donna Mandelbaum said. “They wanted a way for all of the people in downtown to be able to be closer.”
Unlike buses, the streetcar will be circulating the same route in the city. However, it is not in place for people to do things such as commute to work. The car is set in place for anyone, but the rails are only in downtown.
Students throughout the community, who can and cannot drive, are also interested in using the car for getting through downtown, considering it is free.
“I think it will benefit people who can’t drive like myself,” sophomore Ava Backer said. “I think it’s going to also draw a lot more attention to downtown KC, because it’s kind of a novelty thing that we don’t see very often.”
The main route of the track goes through Main Street, but other destinations include the River Market area, Crown Center, Union Station, the Crossroads and the Power and Light District.
“Main Street is the spine of the city,” Mandelbaum said. “With all of the shops and restaurants on Main Street, downtown is sure to get even more publicity.”
Over the past two years, 1.3 billion dollars have been invested into the construction of the streetcar. The number of people riding is predicted to be higher than anticipated due to the rides being free, increasing the number of people downtown.
Chief Information Officer Dennis Ehrich of the Servie Management Group, a customer satisfaction firm, believes that the car will attract people to the shops and restaurants located on the route, but not necessarily SMG.
“[The car] is going to help local business by having the workers in downtown dine in the river market and crossroads community,” Ehrich said. “Retailers will also benefit due to improved access to the customer.”
The ultimate goal of the streetcar is not for economic flourishment. The car’s purpose serves as a way to unite the people of downtown and in the community in a more helpful manner.