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Council Committee Hears Several Streetcar Updates

Jay Hanselman

Cincinnati Council's Major Transportation committee received its monthly update Tuesday on the streetcar.  

Streetcar ridership numbers have not been meeting expected targets, but operating fund finances are exceeding projections.  Through the end of January, that account is $147,730 higher than estimates.
"Monetarily we're still running slightly above where we need to be for the year," said assistant city manager John Juech. "At his point I don't see causes for concern. Obviously, we hope that we will see an increase in ridership as the weather gets nice and we've got some more events going on."

Preliminary numbers show 36,677 rides for February.  That compares to 35,334 in January.

The city and the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) are working on finding more riders.  

SORTA's Sallie Hilvers said they will launch a summer promotion offering temporary monthly passes for June, July and August.

"We've asked the city administration to approve the pricing on those passes and as soon as we have that pricing back, that should be forthcoming, we'll be able to actually prepare the marketing materials on it," Hilvers said. "We intend to begin selling in May. They'll be sold online with a small fee for shipping and handling basically, at our sales office and on the app."

Hilvers said it will be a test to see if a monthly streetcar pass should be offered on a permanent basis.  Right now, people can only buy a monthly Cincinnati Metro pass, which is good for both buses and streetcars.  

In other streetcar news from the meeting:

  • City Council will vote Wednesday on an ordinance increasing the fine for blocking a bus or streetcar to $100.  Right now, it is $50.
  • Construction work to repair crumbing concrete along the streetcar tracks at Walnut and Ninth and Walnut and Court will begin Sunday after daily service ends at 11 p.m.  Streetcar service on the Downtown loop will stopped for up to four days while the repairs are made.  The Over-the-Rhine loop is scheduled to remain open for service.
  • The streetcar will be shut down for the Findlay Market Opening Day parade on April 3.  Service is expected to begin running at about 3 p.m. once the tracks are cleared.  The OTR loop could be open sooner that day.