Patrick Tuohey

On July 24, the Federal Transit Administration issued a triennial review of Kansas City, Missouri, and its FTA-funded projects, namely the downtown streetcar. The report, available at the link below, found the city deficient in several areas, including maintenance.

A number of initial deficiencies were closed prior to the issuance of the final report, often because the city addressed the concerns after receiving a draft of the report. The city has until October 19 to address the remaining items. Of the seven initial deficiencies, one that remains concerns maintenance, including vehicle preventative maintenance, facility/equipment maintenance, and oversight of contracted maintenance.

It is a shame to learn that the city isn’t properly maintaining its streetcars—or at least is not complying with federal grant guidelines for reporting maintenance procedures. These are complicated machines, and cities such as Seattle, Atlanta, Charlotte, and Toronto have had maintenance and safety issues with their streetcars.

Cincinnati’s streetcars—which were manufactured by the same company as Kansas City’s—have had myriad maintenance problems. At one point late last year, several streetcars were offline at once.

[Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority spokeswoman Sallie] Hilvers cited "manufacturing defects" that caused the service issues that resulted, at one point Thursday night, in all but one of the city's five streetcar vehicles being removed from city streets.

It is possible that Kansas City has had no significant streetcar maintenance problems—despite an embarrassing shut down on at least one occasion. And it is possible that the deficiencies cited by the FTA are easily addressed. We’ll know more when the city responds to the outstanding issues. 

Click below to see the entire FTA report

About the Author

Patrick Tuohey
Patrick Tuohey

Patrick Tuohey is the Director of Municipal Policy at the Show-Me Institute.