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Historic KC Light Rail Car #551 is Relocated From Union Station for Continued Preservation and Eventual Display

March 21, 2016

Move Makes Room for Union Station Western Expansion


Roy Inman Photographs

KANSAS CITY, MO. (March 21, 2016) — To make room for Union Station’s massive Western Expansion Project, the historic Kansas City Light Rail Public Service Car #551 was carefully rolled from under its metal canopy last Friday and onto temporary tracks.

Today, #551 was lifted onto a specially-fitted flatbed truck for transport to a secure Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) site for storage while a new Kansas City home is identified.

In 2006, the Regional Transit Alliance (RTA) welcomed this authentic Kansas City streetcar (Model PCC 551) back home and placed it at Union Station. This, after the vintage car was located in California and restored for display.

The car was built by the St. Louis Car Company of Missouri for the Kansas City Public Service, where it ran between 1947 and 1957. Next it went to the Toronto Transportation Commission where it was in service from 1957 to 1973; and finally to San Francisco Municipal Railway from 1973 to 1979.

The car was then sold to the Bay Area Electric Railroad Association in 1979 and was moved to the Western Railway Museum, in Rio Vista, Calif., where it was placed in storage. The RTA purchased the streetcar from the museum and after restoration, the streetcar was trucked to Kansas City to be displayed along the pedestrian mall behind Union Station.

“Union Station is proud to have displayed PCC 551 for the last 10 years,” George Guastello, Union Station president and CEO, said. “Part of our core mission is to preserve and share Kansas City history. We look forward to seeing this historic streetcar in a new permanent home and fascinating future generations of Kansas Citians.”

“We are happy to be able to locate the PCC 551 at the KCATA until a new permanent home can be found for this important piece of Kansas City transit history,” Robbie Makinen, KCATA president and CEO, said.

Union Station’s Western Expansion project represents the largest construction project undertaken at the historic monument since the massive restoration and reopening in 1999.

Phase One of the Western Expansion project is scheduled to be complete by the end of May with subsequent phases to immediately follow. As part of the total project, the space previously occupied by the historic streetcar #551 will transform into a significant new outdoor festival area and adjoin a first-ever outdoor exhibition space for the internationally-awarded Science Center - Science City.

For complete project overview and photography, visit unionstation.org/westernexpansion.

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About Union Station Kansas City, Inc.
Union Station Kansas City -- a 501(c)3 non-profit organization -- is a 100-year-old historical landmark and celebrated civic asset renovated and reopened to the public in 1999. The organization -- dedicated to science education, celebration of community and preservation of history -- is home to Kansas City’s internationally-awarded Science Center; the popular Model Railroad Experience; the Arvin Gottlieb Planetarium; the Regnier Extreme Screen Theatre, H&R Block City Stage featuring live theater, and a selection of unique shops and restaurants. Union Station is also home to prominent area civic organizations and businesses, and regularly hosts world-class traveling exhibitions. Awarded “Top Banquet Facilities in KC” by KC Business Journal, the facility regularly hosts community events and private celebrations of all sizes. Visit www.unionstation.org for details. Also, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.