© 2022 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
News

KC Streetcar will now stay out later at night to help you get home from concerts

A blue streetcar is shown at left with doors open and people are getting on and off the car at a stop.
Carlos Moreno
/
KCUR 89.3
Passengers enter and leave a KC Streetcar at 4th Street and Delaware on Monday morning. The Streetcar is adding an hour to its daily schedules.

With warmer weather and COVID restrictions easing, KC Streetcar has added an extra hour to its evening schedules to accommodate the increased ridership.

Riders can now catch the KC Streetcar a little later into the night — and with less stress about missing their trip back.

With the arrival of warmer weather and easing of COVID-19 numbers, the streetcar is adding an extra hour to its daily schedules to keep up with increased demand.

Starting immediately, the streetcar will now run until 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and until 11 p.m. on Sundays through Thursdays.

Meghan Dooley lives in the River Market, less than a block from a KC Streetcar stop.

A few weeks ago, though, she miscalculated the streetcar’s hours while out with a friend in the Power and Light District, and couldn’t take it home like she planned.

“I had to walk 10 blocks,” she says. “I would have preferred being able to hop on the streetcar. It would have been a little faster and it was cold outside.”

Previously, KC Streetcar stopped service at 10 p.m. during the week and at midnight on the weekends.

The streetcar reduced its hours in 2020 in response to decreased ridership during the pandemic. Monthly ridership in January 2021 had dipped to around 39,000 trips.

But beginning in April 2021, the streetcar started adding back more hours as activity slowly increased in the downtown area. By January 2022, monthly ridership was up to 68,000 trips, although still below pre-pandemic numbers.

“Our ridership recovery is very strong right now, even during January and February,” says Donna Mandelbaum, a spokeswoman for KC Streetcar.

A person walks away from a streetcar stop as an aqua blue streetcar pulls away on a street.
Carlos Moreno
/
KCUR 89.3
A passenger leaves the KC Streetcar stop at 14th and Main Streets on Monday afternoon. Increased demand, particularly in the downtown area, prompted officials to add an extra hour to the Streetcar's evening routes.

Mandelbaum says Kansas City’s downtown area has been hosting more events lately, and anticipates even more in the future. Mendelbaum specifically cited the Big 12 men’s basketball tournament and other major attractions at T-Mobile Center, plus the recently reopened Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland, as requiring more flexibility for riders.

“Those events sometimes run past 10:00 at night,” Mandelbaum says. “So we were seeing people wanting to use the streetcar but still asking, ‘Will I be able to get back to my car or apartment after the event is over?’”

Shawn Tolivar, vice president of the River Market Community Association, is an avid rider of the streetcar and applauds the extra hour.

“It’s nice to know I have access to transportation to get me home in the evenings so I don’t have to call an Uber,” he says.

Tolivar also pointed out how the expanded schedule could help workers downtown.

“So it’s not just a tourist trolley,” Tolivar says. “It’s a legitimate transportation vehicle.”

Mandelbaum says that KC Streetcar will be looking at trip numbers in the spring and summer to consider more changes in the schedule. And with the future expansion of the streetcar to UMKC and Berkley Riverfront, they’re already exploring how the streetcar schedules would be affected by those routes and the different needs of those riders.

Dooley says she’s hopeful that the extra hours will eliminate some of the logistical hassles of late-night events.

“On weekends or if I’m out having dinner with a friend, it’ll be super nice just to be able to not have to worry about it and not have to check the clock,” Dooley says.

KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and powerful storytelling.
Your donation helps make non-profit journalism available for everyone.