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You Can Finally Ride Kansas City's Streetcar On May 6

Cody Newill
KCUR 89.3
Kansas City's streetcar is set to open May 6 with activities continuing through to the next day. Workers are now testing the line to make sure all kinks are worked out by then.

After years of planning, construction and testing, Kansas City's streetcar line will open to the public on May 6.

The Kansas City Streetcar Authority and the city of Kansas City announced the launch Thursday morning. Chris Hernandez with the city's communications department says the plan is to make the opening into a party of sorts that will last through May 7.

"We know that not everyone can jump on the streetcar at the same time, so that's why we're stretching this over several days," Hernandez says. "We expect tens of thousands of people. When the Kauffman Center opened for tours a few years ago, they had 50,000 people come by just to take a look."

Hernandez says the city is still working out the details, but food, drink and merchandise will certainly be part of the equation. 

"We're inviting all the businesses along the streetcar route [to be part of the party] to make sure they're staffed up," says Hernandez. "Imagine perhaps community tables where we can feast together, some food trucks."

Three of the four streetcar vehicles are currently running through tests on the 2.2 mile route to pass Federal Transit Administration requirements before the May open. Donna Mandelbaum with the Streetcar Authority says the last car is expected by the end of March.

"We have 11 operators hired going through training," Mandelbaum says. "Right now we're performing all sorts of tests with braking, speed tests."

Though the streetcar is still a few months away, Hernandez says the city has already seen plenty of positives come from it.

"It's immensely gratifying that we've already racked up $1.6 billion in economic development," Hernandez says. "Those are projects that have been completed, are in progress or have been publicly announced in the downtown area."

Streetcar officials had previously considered a soft opening for the streetcar, but Mandelbaum says the idea just didn't quite seem like the right fit.

"We needed as much time as possible to get everything done in the safest way possible," Mandelbaum says. "It all just seemed to come together for that first weekend in May."

Cody Newill is a reporter for KCUR 89.3. You can reach him on Twitter @CodyNewill or send him an email at cody@kcur.org. 

Cody Newill is part of KCUR's audience development team. Follow him on Twitter @CodyNewill or email him at cody@kcur.org.
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