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Rain 'Might Have Played A Factor' In KC Streetcar Derailment

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Cody Newill
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KCUR 89.3
The downtown streetcar near where it derailed Monday afternoon. Officials have not yet pinpointed an exact cause.

Kansas City Streetcar officials say they are still investigating what caused a streetcar to go slightly off its rails near Union Station Monday, but they admit rain might have contributed to the car shunting off its track. 

Speaking on KCUR's Up To Date Tuesday morning, Donna Mandelbaum with the Kansas City Streetcar Authority said the problem originated at the track-switch area near Union Station, where streetcars turn back north on the 2.2-mile line. 

"Basically [that] area did not operate the way we wanted it to, and three of the wheels did go off the tracks slightly."

The derailment occurred at about 3:30 p.m., after the metro had received multiple rounds of rain, torrential in some areas. Mandelbaum mentioned the rain as a possible contributor but said no firm conclusions have yet been made as authorities investigate. 

She said as of Tuesday afternoon, the Union Station track-switch area was working properly. Streetcar staff were reportedly on the scene to monitor it.

Monday's derailment did not result in any injures. Passengers on the streetcar at the time were shuttled by bus to their destinations along the route. Service resumed on the line at about 9 p.m. Monday night. 

The streetcar involved in the derailment appeared to sustain no major damage. 

The derailment glitch marred what has been an otherwise celebratory opening month for the streetcar line, the first in Kansas City in nearly 60 years. Ridership has already topped 115,000, blasting through official expectations. And there is already a growing movement to start discussion for expanding the line south to the Country Club Plaza and Union Station. 

"We're looking at an average of about 5,000 riders a day. So, we're pretty excited," Mandelbaum said. That's nearly double the original 2,700 ride per day estimate. 

Kyle Palmer is KCUR's morning newscaster. You can follow him on Twitter @kcurkyle

Kyle Palmer is the editor of the Shawnee Mission Post, a digital news outlet serving Northeast Johnson County, Kansas. He previously served as KCUR's news director and morning newscaster.
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