KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Less stress and less traffic – two things city leaders hope the KC Streetcar will accomplish, as thousands of college basketball fans descend upon downtown for the Big 12 Championship.
This year marks the first time fans had the KC Streetcar as an option for transportation to attend games at Sprint Center or watch games on TV at Power and Light District.
“First time on the streetcar!” said James Henderson with a smile.
The Oklahoma fan from Kearney, Mo., said he was happy to hitch a free ride to explore other parts of the city before his team hit the court Wednesday night.
“When we go down to Dallas for the OU-Texas game,” Henderson said, “we always ride the DART down there, so we’re used to riding city transportation.”
Some fans cited high prices for parking for their reason to switch it up.
“We usually pay $20 to park,” said Henderson, who called the Streetcar a nice change.
While others praised the convenience.
“It’s just easier,” said KU fan Jeff Lummis, “and I was worried about congestion down here.”
Both are benefits that leaders with the Kansas City Streetcar Authority have been touting on social media ahead of tourney time.
“We’re so excited!” said Donna Mandelbaum, communications manager. “This is the first time during the Big 12 Tournament that the Kansas City Streetcar is here!”
“Whether you’re coming from Iowa or suburban Johnson County, you drive in, stay at one of our amazing hotels, and you can just hop on the streetcar for free, not worry about parking, finding a place, dealing with traffic.”
Mandelbaum said they’ve added extra streetcars this week to cut down on wait times.
“We have four streetcars running,” she said, “which means they arrive at every stop in probably around 8-10 minutes. So that’s a huge difference from 10-15 minutes.”
She said they’ve also hired extra security to ensure safety.
“It was simple,” said Lummis. “I kind of investigated it earlier today and saw what I needed to do and got on. It was smooth as can be.”
All of the changes were put into place in hopes basketball fans soak up the city during March Madness.
“Great experience!” Henderson said. “Done very well and we’ve really enjoyed it.”
The streetcar’s hours will remain the same this week – running until midnight Wednesday and Thursday, then running until 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.