KC Streetcar earns rave reviews from national pub

The KC Streetcar received kudos from a national online magazine this week, as ridership continues to soar on the streets of Downtown KC.

The KC Streetcar received kudos from a national online magazine this week, as ridership continues to soar on the streets of Downtown KC.

The Downtown KC Streetcar is getting some love from a national online magazine.

Although streetcars have been popping up all over the nation during the last two decades, there’s one that stands out, according to Slate magazine.

Slate is a national, online magazine of news, politics, technology, and culture. It combines humor and insight in thoughtful analyses of current events and political news. The streetcar article appears under the headline:

Did an American city finally build a good streetcar?

Just when we were all set to consign the 21st-century American streetcar to the scrap heap, Kansas City comes along and injects a sliver of uncertainty into the debate.

Streetcars have been popping up all over the U.S. in the past couple decades, in cities like Salt Lake City, Tampa, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C. Critics say they’re badly designed as short spurs of track, with streetcars stuck in traffic, and shoddily managed, with poor service that discourages riders from the get-go.

The proof has been in the ridership. Salt Lake’s S-Line counted about 1,000 passengers per day along its two-mile route in 2015. Atlanta’s 2.7-mile streetcar was counting just 1,000 riders a day during the first months of 2016. In June, Tampa’s TECO line counted just 600 passengers a day!

And then there is the new streetcar route in Kansas City, Missouri, which is getting6,660 riders a day over the first three months of operation—and rising. Total ridership is 550,000 riders in just 84 days of operation. That’s an order of magnitude above its counterparts in Atlanta and Salt Lake City, and more than double ridership on the H Street Streetcar in D.C., which runs in a densely populated urban area.

Per mile, Kansas City ridership is double Phoenix’s exemplary, set-apart light rail, and on par with the Los Angeles Blue Line, one of the country’s most successful transit projects of the past few decades.

This is … surprising. Kansas City’s streetcar runs in traffic, so it can’t save riders any time over driving. It runs in a downtown whose residential population was just 20,000 at the time of the 2010 census. And—here’s the craziest part—there are more than 12,000 off-street parking spots within one block of its route. That doesn’t count on-street parking, or parking that might be two or three block away.

All that said: It’s been a runaway success.

Time to revisit the in-traffic streetcar as an effective way to move people around the city? Not just yet. The KC Streetcar is definitely benefiting from a novelty boost in a city that hasn’t had rail transit in half a century. The warm weather is also pumping up the numbers—June, July, and August were the best months for the Atlanta Streetcar last year, which peaked in July.

Finally, the KC Streetcar is free. Unlike Atlanta, which saw ridership drop when a $1 fare was implemented at the start of this year, KC has no plans to charge riders. But that makes it tough to compare with similar operations elsewhere, which must take in revenue at the farebox to support operating costs. (In a way, riders are paying for the streetcar anyway, via a 1 cent sales tax within the “Transit Development District” around the line. Property owners are also paying a small special assessment.)

Rail boosters in KC don’t want to wait and see if the starter line’s popularity holds—they’ve already got plans ready for a second phase. Best to strike while the rail is hot.

To comment directly with Slate, click here.

KC Streetcar offers opportunities for sponsorships

Mayor Sly James gives a thumbs-up to the KC Streetcar, which just topped 400,000 riders in its first nine weeks of operations.

Mayor Sly James gives a thumbs-up to the KC Streetcar, which just topped 400,000 riders in its first nine weeks of operations.

The Kansas City Streetcar is offering a new and unique marketing proposition – sponsorship of a Streetcar Stop or a Streetcar vehicle.

The Kansas City Streetcar Authority (KCSA) has issued a Request for Proposal to firms, organizations, companies and/or individuals who may be interested in sponsoring a station stop or a vehicle. Each interested party (Proposer) faces a deadline of 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 1 to contact the KCSA and develop a Streetcar Sponsorship Agreement.

“Streetcars do more than simply improve mobility,” said Donna Mandelbaum, marketing officer for the KC Streetcar. “In Kansas City, the entire community is looking to the Downtown Streetcar to fuel economic growth by promoting development, raising property values, attracting businesses and residents, and helping to redefine our city, streetcars benefit everyone.”

The Streetcar Authority offers a variety of options and programs for local businesses and corporate partners to take advantage of KC Streetcar’s integration into the city. The latest options features sponsorships, and the placement of sponsor logos and information.

For more information on the sponsorship program and the Aug. 1 deadline, visit KCStreetcar.org and visit the Sponsorship page.

Since opening day on May 6, nearly 400,000 people have ridden the streetcar, Mandelbaum said.  That’s an audience 400,000 or more people to be exposed to the sponsorship information.

 

Job #1: Keep parked vehicles off of streetcar right-of-way

One of the best lessons to learn during the testing phase of the KC Streetcar is how we – businesses, residents and visitors – need to work together to keep parked vehicles off of the streetcar right-of-way.

After all, one of the city’s new Track Access Rules for the KC Streetcar is to “Never park equipment or vehicles on the track.” This means no portion of the vehicle should touch the streetcar tracks or encroach beyond the white line that runs alongside the tracks.

And, this rule applies to all vehicles, including delivery, U.S. postal and emergency vehicles.

Here’s a fresh idea of how you can help. Be sure to communicate to every one of your employees and your delivery services – i.e., FedEx, UPS, caterers, etc., – to follow the new parking restrictions on the streetcar route OR to find alternative delivery options for bringing your goods into your workplaces.

Keeping parked vehicles (like the delivery truck in this photo) within the white lines along the streetcar route will allow the streetcar to advance through Downtown without delays. You can help communicate with delivery services to keep the streetcars running on time.

Keeping parked vehicles (like the delivery truck at the top of this photo) within the white lines along the streetcar route will allow the streetcar to advance through Downtown without delays. You can help communicate with delivery services to keep the streetcars running on time.

As per City Ordinance 150406, vehicles that park outside of the white lines and/or illegally double-park on the streetcar tracks will be subject to ticketing with fines up to $500, and possibly towing.

For more information about streetcar safety and the new rules of the road, visit kcstreetcar.org.

 

 

 

 

Streetcar overhead wires to go ‘HOT’ on Wednesday

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The KC Streetcar overhead wires are going HOT beginning Wednesday morning all along the streetcar route.

“This week marks another major milestone on the KC Streetcar project, as crews electrify the wires that will power the streetcar,” according to Donna Mandelbaum, streetcar communications manager.

“Once testing of the overhead, or catenary wires, begins, all wires are considered ‘hot’ and electrified at all times. The testing of the overhead wires also symbolizes the transfer of streetcar activity from construction to operations and testing.”

The KC Streetcar project includes more than 24,000 feet of both overhead and underground wire. These wires power the streetcar, carrying 750 volts of direct current power through them and into the track. This power, provided by Kansas City Power & Light, is supplied through 4 sub-stations that are strategically placed along the streetcar route.

Those locations include the Main Street Viaduct near Union Station; Truman Road South at Main Street; the 6th Street and Main Street overpass; and the Singleton Yard Vehicle Maintenance Facility located at 3rd Street and Holmes Road.

“This latest round of streetcar activity signifies the intense progress being made on this project as we prepare the infrastructure for the arrival of the first streetcar vehicle,” said Tom Gerend, executive director of the KC Streetcar Authority. “These wires are now electrified and considered extremely dangerous if touched. The public and surrounding properties should use caution when around these wires.”

Property owners/managers, developers, and contractors that perform construction, building maintenance or any exterior work along the streetcar route will now have to follow a new track access process, which is managed by the City of Kansas City’s permitting department. Track Access Training and a Track Access Permit are required prior to performing any work that is within four feet of the nearest streetcar track and within 10 feet of the overhead wires.

To apply for a Track Access Permit, applicants can call the City of Kansas City, MO., directly at 816-513-2760. To sign up for Track Access Training, interested parties can call the KC Streetcar Operations Team at 816-804-8882.

The Track Access Permit also applies to community organizations, businesses and neighborhood associations that may be working or hosting an event within four feet of the closest streetcar track and within 10 feet of the overhead wires. An example of this would be the erecting of a large tent, washing windows, or the hanging of banners/signage from a building or pedestrian light poles.

This Track Access process applies to all work or activities that may take place on: − Main Street from Union Station to the River Market − 5th Street from Delaware – Grand − Grand from 3rd Street – 5th Street − 3rd Street from Grand – Delaware − Delaware from 3rd Street – Independence Ave. As Kansas City prepares for the arrival of the first streetcar vehicle, the KC Streetcar Constructors are busy testing the track, facilities, power infrastructure and communication systems associated with the streetcar project.

These stand alone tests are being performed now prior to the arrival of the streetcar vehicle. Once the first streetcar vehicle arrives, integrated testing can begin.

For additional information, visit the KC Streetcar website or contact Mandelbaum at 816.627.2526/816.877.3219 or email at dmandelbaum@kcstreetcar.org.

‘Be Smart, Be Ready’: Streetcar safety campaign

The new Downtown streetcar starter route will begin its test phase as early as October, before the two-mile route becomes fully operational in early 2016.

The new Downtown streetcar starter route is expected to begin a test phase in October, a few months before the two-mile route becomes fully operational in early 2016.

 

Safety first! The Kansas City Streetcar Authority shared a sneak preview of its new streetcar safety campaign at its monthly board meeting on Thursday.

Bearing the theme of “Respect the Rail. Be Smart. Be Safe. Be Ready,” the campaign is designed to teach pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists to be alert to the new modern streetcar system. The two-mile, Downtown streetcar route will begin testing the new streetcar system as early as October.

The safety messaging and related imagery are informative, energetic and friendly, according to Tom Gerend, executive director of the KC Streetcar. The campaign is designed to speak to riders, potential riders and the surrounding community, as well as pedestrians, motorists and cyclists.

“The safety messages are clear, easy to understand and put a positive spin on safety,” Gerend said.

The Streetcar Safety Campaign will roll out in phases over the next several weeks and months, adding detail to the messages as well as including other forms such as scooters, wheelchairs and strollers.

To see more of the safety images and messages, follow the links below:

KC Streetcar Safety Campaign

KC Streetcar Safety Campaign Page 2

To learn more about the KC Streetcar, visit www.kcstreetcar.org.

City to review ‘Smart City’ plan on streetcar line

 

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Kansas City and its partners plan to spend more than $15 million during the next decade on a “smart city” project that is organized around the Downtown Streetcar line, The Kansas City Business Journal reported over the weekend.

City officials announced in May that Cisco Systems Inc. would make Kansas City its latest smart city, with the use of advanced technology to boost the efficiency of a range of services. On Thursday, Mayor Sly James introduced an ordinance authorizing City Manager Troy Schulte to enter into an agreement with the San Jose-based networking technology company, The Business Journal reported. The story continued:

The ordinance, which will be taken up by the City Council’s Finance, Governance & Ethics Committee on Wednesday, April 22, also authorizes Schulte and Finance Director Randall Landes to execute various agreements regarding the project and its financing.

An ordinance fact sheet prepared by city Chief Innovation Officer Ashley Hand indicates that Kansas City will spend $3.8 million on the project over the next decade and that the amount will be “matched and exceeded by nearly $12 million in private investment by Cisco … and its growing list of partners.”

The ordinance indicates the “Smart + Connected Communities” project will be organized around the city’s 2.2-mile Downtown Streetcar line and may include a public Wi-Fi network.

“This program will also bring new economic development by attracting technology start-ups from across the globe to test their concepts,” the document said.

The Smart + Connected Communities program will include installation of a public Wi-Fi network and “community kiosks” that will allow citizens to call upon city services or make digital transactions. City documents said New York City-based KCity Post plans to open a local office to manage content and maintain the kiosks. The plan also includes installation of “video as a sensor and smart lighting,” that will be integrated with street lighting and be used to “capture data as needed for any future smart city application.” The video component also may be used for monitoring the streetcar line.

The Business Journal continued:

The kiosks are slated to come online when the streetcar begins operating, likely sometime in 2016, according to Michael Grimaldi, a spokesman for the mayor. Construction correlated to the smart city project will begin two to three months after the ordinance is passed and contracts are finalized, he said.

A Living Lab component is a joint proposal by Cisco and Kansas City-based startup incubator Think Big Partners LLC. It will allow emerging network technology to be deployed, tested and validated in Kansas City.

“The Living Lab will create an opportunity for entrepreneurs to build high-growth companies, partner with large companies needing assistance and allow (Kansas City) the ability to reap the financial and social benefits while improving the quality of life and reducing long terms costs,” the document said. “While the smart city concept is not new, the proposal for the Living Lab creates an unique opportunity to make a significant, sustainable impact in this growing sector while benefiting our residents, businesses and visitors with better infrastructure.”

To read the complete story, click here.

 

Streetcar to operate on 10-minute schedule

The Kansas City Streetcar Authority (KCSA) Board of Directors approved the preliminary operating schedule for the KC Streetcar system at their October Board meeting on Thursday.

“The streetcar operations plan approved by the board on Thursday reinforces our commitment to provide high quality, frequent streetcar service to support downtown businesses, visitors, and residents”, said Tom Gerend, KCSA Executive Director.

The Downtown KC Streetcar will operate from Union Station to the River Market beginning in early next year.

The KC Streetcar will operate from Union Station to the River Market beginning early next year.

 

The KC Streetcar system will be operated seven days a week, with service running from:

  • 6 a.m. to midnight on Mondays through Thursdays
  • 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays;
  • 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturdays;
  • and 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays.

The service will be the most frequent transit service in the region with streetcars running every 10 minutes in the peak weekday periods Mondays through Fridays and every 12 to 18 minutes the remainder of the week. Detailed route schedules will be finalized at the conclusion of service and operations testing.

“This operating schedule keeps the promises made toDowntown voters paying into the streetcar TDD -frequent service so you don’t have to check a schedule, and late night runs on the weekends”, said David Johnson, KCSA Board member and Operations Committee Chair.

The KC Streetcar is a modern-streetcar system currently under construction in Downtown Kansas City, Missouri. The system will be free to ride and will feature real-time arrival signage, level-boarding, on-board bicycle accommodations, and enhanced transit stop shelters and signage. KC Streetcar is anticipated to open to the public in early 2016.

If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Tom Gerend, Executive Director of KC Streetcar Authority at 816-859-7040 or email at tgerend@kcstreetcar.org.

Streetcar app to promote retailers on the line

A new KC Streetcar app is Open for Business. The app is being launched today in an effort to support and promote retail businesses during the next year of construction along the Downtown streetcar route.

The KC Streetcar app is free and available for download onto Android (j.mp/kcstreetcarandroid) and Apple (j.mp/kcstreetcarios)smart phones and tablets. It features shops, restaurants, bars, attractions and other retail businesses on the streetcar line – from Union Station to the River Market.

Downtown-KC_Open-For-Business

Participating businesses, featuring a Downtown KC – Open for Business window stickers  on their front doors, are located on or adjacent to the streetcar route, along Main Street from Pershing Road to the River Market.

“The App features a loyalty rewards system,” said Mike Hurd, marketing director for the Downtown Council. “You earn points for checking in at retailers along the route. The points make you eligible to win a monthly prize, as well as a grand prize drawing.”

Spencer Fane Britt & Browne LLP, a Downtown law firm, has donated $5,000 to serve as the grand prize that will be awarded once the streetcar construction has been completed in about one year, Hurd explained. A minimum of 10,000 points over the next 12 months will be necessary to compete for the grand prize.

“We’re thrilled to be the sponsor of the Downtown Council’s grand prize reward,” said Spencer Fane’s Nate Orr. “This App is a fun and innovative way for us, as Downtown residents, to support and promote our neighbors, clients and friends, while we watch the future of Downtown Kansas City take shape.”

The App is the latest element of a new Open for Business campaign that is spearheaded by the Downtown Council and the KC Streetcar Constructors. The App was developed by Kansas City App Development Platform Moblico.

“We are sympathetic with the local businesses who deal with the daily construction and traffic impacts and we are committed to minimizing the impacts felt during the streetcar construction,” Hurd said. “Just as Main Street will remain open during construction, so will Downtown businesses.”

Retailers located on or adjacent to the route were invited to participate in the Open for Business – KC Streetcar App at no charge.

“Go ahead and download the App today,” Hurd said. “Then, you can get busy earning points while also helping the retailers stay strong during the months of streetcar construction this year and next.”

For more information, visit the KC Streetcar website at www.kcstreetcar.org.

 

Heads up! Construction along Delaware Street

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“D” is the word this week in and around the River Market.

One of the River Market’s most traveled streets, Delaware, will be closed off and on this week for streetcar-related construction.
Both the Delaware Street Bridge and Delaware Street from Independence to 5th Street will be impacted, beginning today.
The River Market and the City Market, as well as businesses along Delaware Street, will be open for business, so we encourage you to get out and support the shops, restaurants, retailers and other destinations.
Here is a quick summary of the construction work, courtesy of the Kansas City Streetcar Constructors (KCSC).
  • The bridge leading from the Central Business District to the River Market will be closed off and on as KCSC crews begin preparing the surface for the installation of streetcar track.
  • Southbound lanes will be closed today (Tuesday) and Wednesday
  • Northbound lanes will be closed Thursday and Friday
  • More information about detours is found in the Delaware Bridge attachment
Delaware Street — Independence to 5th Street (click here for a construction map):
  • There will be a 36-hour closure on Delaware, from Independence to 5th Street from 7 a.m. tomorrow (Wednesday) through 7 p.m. Thursday.
  • Crews will be installing a new water main, and this closure was determined to be the best way to minimize the duration of this piece of work and the disruption to area businesses and residents.
To keep up with the construction projects, visit the KCSC website.

Name, brand ID selected for KC Streetcar

The Kansas City Streetcar Authority has revealed the name and branding for the new Downtown streetcar line, selecting a classic look and feel that is immediately recognizable and achieves world class standards for transit branding.

Streetcar Authority board members approved the branding package during its monthly public meeting on Thursday afternoon.

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“The name, ‘KC Streetcar’, is simple, intuitive and universal, giving Kansas City a place among the best transit systems in the world,” said Streetcar Authority Board Chairman Tom Trabon.

Following an intensive research and design exploration process, Willoughby Design, Inc. presented the final recommendation for the streetcar identity, including the name, KC Streetcar, an original brand icon, word mark, favicon, design system and color palette.

The brand gives the recognizable international streetcar icon a uniquely Kansas City twist with an open, friendly feel. It also gives a nod to the sleek, modern look of the streetcar vehicles Kansas City has ordered.

The streetcar brand identity is also designed to seamlessly integrate with proposed regional branding that will soon unify all transportation in the Greater Kansas City Area under one umbrella. Under the regional branding, the name “KC Streetcar” pairs with the regional name, “Ride KC” to become: “Ride KC Streetcar”.

“This branding and name allows us to move forward with regional collaboration, while also keeping the focus on the downtown streetcar line as a catalyst for economic development and improved linkage of downtown neighborhoods and job centers,” said Tom Gerend, KCSA Executive Director.

The approach for the streetcar name and identity was inspired by a global audit of regional transit and streetcar identity best practices, notably the Utah Transit Authority, RATP in Paris, Transport for London and GVB in Amsterdam.

Willoughby described each of these system identities as “simple, functional, universal, intuitive and cohesive.” Willoughby also presented test applications of the KC Streetcar’s core brand identity to the current website, collateral, social media, web banners, way-finding signage, conceptual promotional campaigns and the vehicle design.

The interior color palette, cobalt blue and silver, and the exterior color palette, pearl, silver and graphite, were approved by the KCSA Board on May 29.

The palette was described as “a timeless, sophisticated, progressive, confident canvas for the future of our city.” To see images of the approved brand identity, visit the KC Streetcar website (kcstreetcar.org) or visit kcmo.gov.

Auxier walks the KC (streetcar) line

“Andy Auxier has no trouble remembering the events of one week last November.

“That was when, on the new Main Street bridge over Interstate 670,  Downtown Kansas City’s first stretch of 21st-century streetcar track was laid.”

That’s how The Kansas City Star began its Star Magazine cover story last Sunday on Andy Auxier, the guy at the helm of Kansas City’s streetcar construction. The story continued:

Auxier (on the I-670 bridge) “loves streetcars,” says his wife, Cindy. When the two were dating, they’d drive by his job sites to make sure they looked presentable.THE KANSAS CITY STAR

Auxier (on the I-670 bridge) “loves streetcars,” says his wife, Cindy. When the two were dating, they’d drive by his job sites to make sure they looked presentable. Special thanks to THE KANSAS CITY STAR

“It was also the week his wife went into labor early with their first child, less than a month after they’d arrived in Kansas City.

Auxier, wearing his brown hard hat covered with decals, shares this story while leading a tour along Main to demonstrate just what the Kansas City streetcar project has wrought so far.

Lots of orange cones, for starters. Closed lanes, creeping traffic, construction guys everywhere, loud equipment and trenches in the middle of the street. A similar scene has played out this summer in the River Market.

It’s a typically warm July morning, a bit before 9 — not early for Auxier, who gets to work at 6:30 a.m. On the I-670 bridge, he indulges a photographer by sprawling flat on his back in the middle of the streetcar track, although he grumbles about presenting a bad safety message. Heck, at least two of his hat decals mention “safety.”

Auxier turns back south, past Anton’s Taproom, a place he likes for grabbing a drink after work, and Gallup Map Co., which is advertising 1914 KC streetcar maps.

News flash: Kansas City is getting a new streetcar line.

Auxier is the guy who’s here to get it built.

The big question now, in the wake of the recent election, is: Will it ever get beyond the 2.2-mile starter line? Will KC end up with one of the shortest streetcar lines in the country?”

Click here to read to complete Star Magazine feature.