By Justin Schmidt, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -
It's the end of the line for the Kansas City Strip trolley. The people behind the shuttle service have announced they are shutting down immediately.
The KC Strip trolley used to stop in front of the Blue Line Sports Bar in the River Market and the bar's owner said she'll miss the extra customers who got off that trolley.
"It hurts. A lot of the customers came in to hang out with us. They drink, but like to be safe so they ride the trolley because it would take them down to Westport or wherever they want to go," Letty Stegall said. "I'm very disappointed."
Stegall said 20 to 30 percent of her business comes from the trolley on a weekend night.
The trolley used to run every 15 minutes between all the entertainment districts in the city. For $10 a person could get a ride all night and discounts at bars near the stops.
"We started this three years ago, an idea to link all of the Kansas City entertainment districts," George said. "The idea was between fear of DUI, the economy, rising gas prices, a lot of people weren't going out. We started the trolley service to get people out of their comfort zones and see all Kansas City has to offer."
CEO of the Kansas City Transportation Group Bill George said flyers advertising the cheap transportation and discounts are the downfall of the service.
"For whatever reason, two to three weeks ago Cordish (Co.) said all the places that had participated, they no longer wanted to participate in the program and to remove them from all the collateral material," he said.
Cordish Co. represents businesses in the Power and Light District, one of many entertainment districts the trolley stops at.
George said they'd just printed up 400,000 flyers outlining the discounts offered to people for using the trolley and reprinting them to remove the Power and Light businesses would be too costly.
"If they supported us they'd do what 60 other bars have done and continue to give the discount. Their attitude was, ‘we're going to get these people anyway, so we don't need to offer any discounts. It's discouraging to me because they get a lot of tax money every year," George said.
But Nick Benjamin, Executive Director of the Kansas City Power & Light District released a statement refuting Cordish Co.'s announcement that no businesses wanted to work with the trolley system anymore.
"To be clear, The Power & Light District had zero involvement in the creation or operation of the KC Strip. Nonetheless, The Power & Light District has always been a supporter of and participant in the KC Strip and continues to support the KC Strip. We have a dedicated stop in the District and have had one since the Strip's inception. We were saddened and disappointed to hear that they are shutting down."
Benjamin did not address the pamphlet or discount situation.
Kansas City Transportation Group, which operated the trolley, did receive $100,000 in grant money from the Neighborhood Tourism Development Fund for promotion as well as a $200,000 interest-free loan from the city.
George said the loan will be paid in full.
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