Imagine Downtown KC special report: KC Streetcar Expansion

The Main Street Extension of the KC Streetcar from Union Station to UMKC will usher in a new era of connectedness for City – from Downtown through Midtown and on to the UMKC campus.

Imagine Downtown KC Strategic Plan special report: KC Streetcar Expansion, July 20, 2022

Tom Gerend, executive director of the Kansas City Streetcar Authority, presented the Imagine Downtown KC implementation committee with progress reports on the southern and northern extensions to the current 2.2-mile KC Streetcar service area. Each is fully funded, in part by federal transportation grants matched by local Transit Development District funds. Each extension is expected to be operational in 2025.

The KC Streetcar has been operating in Downtown since May 2016, recording nearly 10 million passenger trips. Gerend reported record-setting development levels (surface lot conversions, new mixed use, hotels) resulting in:

  • 40% increase in residential density within 3 blocks of route
  • 56% increase in Downtown TDD sales tax receipts
  • 98% of businesses on the route report a positive impact on business

The extraordinary economic benefits of the streetcar led the KC Streetcar Authority to explore how best to extend its transit spine on Main Street south to the UMKC campus and north to the Berkley Riverfront.

Gerend described the southern extension as a generational opportunity for Kansas City, complete with a new era of connectedness, jobs, and investment for Kansas City. 

The $350M Main Street Extension will reach 3.5 miles from Union Station south to UMKC miles; require eight new streetcars (up from the current six cars); and 15 new streetcar station stops. Utility construction commenced in November 2020, and track construction began in April of this year.

The $33.5M Riverfront Extension is the northern streetcar extension that will link the Downtown core at 3rd & Grand directly to the historic riverfront, providing valuable recreation and quality of life benefits, and serving as a catalyst for activating, densifying, and expediting development plans currently underway in the Berkley Riverfront area.

A separate project for a bike and pedestrian bridge will run alongside the streetcar – advanced by the City of KCMO. 

Gerend said the Streetcar Authority is currently working with Ride KC and North Kansas City to explore the feasibility of extending KC Streetcar service over the river. The NorthRail Study Refresh will:

  • Investigate preferred river crossing, alignment, and stop locations
  • Analyze finances, i.e. assess capital and operating costs, funding sources, and grant opportunities
  • Engage with the community and general public involvement to guide decision-making

Gerend closed his presentation by welcoming questions about the KC Streetcar extensions. Implementation Committee members are invited to contact him at

Next quarterly meeting

The next meeting of the Imagine Implementation Committee is set for 8:30-10:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 29 at the Downtown Council offices. For more information, contact Ann Holliday at