In the wake of rising US fuel prices, the KC Streetcar (Kansas City, MO) has reported that patronage is almost back to pre-pandemic levels, with a major uplift recorded since March. In a similar trend, the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) is also registering a 74% increase in weekday bus passengers with a 15% boost in journeys in May compared to same period in 2021.
Both streetcar and bus services are free to ride and a surge in summer activities in the city’s downtown has seen particularly busy periods at the weekends. Four of the system’s six CAF Urbos trams now operate on Fridays and Saturdays – normally this is three – with an average of 10 000 trips on Saturdays.
The KC Streetcar opened in May 2016, covering 3.5km (2.2 miles) along Main Street from the River Market to Union Station/Crown Center and a loop around the City Market. Carrying almost ten million riders in six years, since construction was approved in 2012 around USD4bn in development has been seen along the route.
On 6 April work began on a 5.6km (3.5-mile) extension which will connect the current southern terminus at Union Station to the University of Missouri – Kansas City (UMKC). This USD351m project is being overseen by a joint partnership of the city, the KC Streetcar Authority and the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority and is expected to open in 2025.
A further six CAF Urbos trams were ordered in 2021; this order was extended to eight earlier this year.