Audit raises concerns about Kansas City streetcar - KCTV5

Audit raises concerns about Kansas City streetcar

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Kansas City’s first streetcar will be on its way to the area on Friday.

The shipment was delayed when a windshield failed a safety test, which has been taken care of.  The streetcar should leave the factory in New York on Friday and get to Kansas City sometime next week, with testing on the tracks to start after that.

While there’s lots of excitement for the new street car, there are also some concerns.

More than $100 million is being spent to bring street cars to Kansas City. It’s a combination of grants and tax dollars.

The city auditor released a new report that raises questions about the line’s future. The report highlights concerns on accountability, structure and who handles the money.

“There could be a conflict,” said City Auditor Douglas Jones. “This is complicated, down the weeds, federal regulations, how you go through that process. (But) it's important stuff and that's why we did the audit.”

Jones raises concerns regarding the partnership between the city and the non-profit KC Streetcar Authority. The current plan is for them to deal with advertising and any potential fares and that could be a problem for federal regulators.

“If we wanted to expand and get additional grants to operate to run the train on a day-to-day basis, the street car, that's where we could have some issues,” Jones said.

Jones also raises concerns that if the city ever goes after federal money for the streetcar, that could affect city buses. There’s one pot of money and more money for streetcars could mean less for buses. It becomes a transportation trade-off.

The report cautions that who touches streetcar money matters. It also recommends a clearer budget to make it simple for everyone to know how much is being spent, Finally, the report recommends written accountability.

“How is the streetcar performing? Are we hitting our goals? Is it doing what we hoped it would do?” Jones said.

The streetcar authority responded, saying that federal dollars for light rail are limited and unpredictable, so they aren’t concerned about FTA grants. They feel the best plan is for the city to be self-sufficient.

The city said they are open to recommended changes.

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