Kansas City Southern Railroad has been in the news lately. That’s because the railroad ships to Mexico and its stock price has been going up and down with the Peso, and Donald Trump’s prospect of winning the presidency. But there’s another rail line in Kansas City making news.
The Kansas City Streetcar, which opened earlier this year, has been widely embraced and has blown ridership estimates off the pantograph. The system, which connects Union Station with River Market, is so crowded two more streetcars are on order. The trips are already fairly frequent, arriving every fifteen minutes or so. Ridership in this town that has gone decades without fixed transit is now one of the highest in the country.
In fact, the system beat yearly ridership projections in the first five months. A few days ago the system transported its millionth passenger. Since opening day, streetcar ridership has steadily increased with a daily average of 6,600 passengers. The previous projected daily ridership average was 2,700. The Kansas City Streetcar is free and ridership is calculated by Automated Passenger Counters located over each door of each streetcar.
The ride on the Kansas City Streetcar was particularly interesting to me. Vocal interests in Dallas are insisting a second downtown line be put underground at considerable cost. The downtown system in Kansas City is entirely at street level, something that likely contributes to the staggering ridership numbers.
The success has spawned an expansion, with future stops near Country Club Plaza, the Nelson-Atkins and the University of Missouri, Kansas City.