Transit Action Network (TAN)

Advocates for Improved and Expanded Transit in the Kansas City Region.

Downtown Trends and Transit- Is a Streetcar in Kansas City’s future?

Posted by Transit Action Network on April 18, 2011

Downtown areas are being revitalized all over America.

The 2011 March-April edition of the magazine The Futurist looks at current trends in an article titled “The “American Dream” Moves Downtown”.

Although the Renaissance in many downtown areas came with light rail, read streetcar for KC.  Portland is leading the way in using streetcars, which helps other cities see their potential.

Times are changing, as are attitudes in KC. The corridor from the River Market to Crown Center has lots of activities and major attractions with more and more people actually living in the area. Demand for more effective inner city transit from the people who will use it may finally have arrived. It certainly has arrived in other cities around the country.

The trend includes more than just rail. Other aspects of enhanced downtown areas include restoring and enhancing natural settings with small to mid-size parks, urban ornamental or vegetable gardens (like the one at 18th and Broadway), integrating commercial and residential functions in multi-use buildings and changing public infrastructure to favor people over cars.

Since transit is considered a major component of this trend it is often called “Transit-Oriented Development” or TOD, which has mixed use, relatively dense development that emphasizes walk-ability.

KC already has some of the improvements mentioned in the article and the new zoning code that went into effect January 2011 will help with others.

The new study for a two-mile long streetcar is starting. If a good plan emerges from the study, let’s hope we find a way to finance building it as well as operate it.

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