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Efforts To Improve Cincinnati Streetcar Experience

Jay Hanselman

Several subcommittees are meeting and working on ideas to improve the streetcar experience for riders. 

The groups met collectively Monday at City Hall to discuss issues like track blockages, real time arrival sign information and marketing. Assistant City Manager John Juech said there are usually about two track blockages per day.

"The city manager has given the direction to parking enforcement of the city to increase the number of citations written for people found to be blocking the path of the streetcar," Juech said. "We have seen an increase in the last three weeks in citations, although parking enforcement says the vast majority of those have been in the area around Findlay Market and Rhinegist."

Another group is working on ideas to speed up the streetcar through the city. 

This includes reviewing eight so called "close call points," or areas where streetcar operators have to be careful about colliding with other vehicles or pedestrians. 

Group member Jon Harman says city engineers looked at the problem points with representatives from Transdev and SORTA and are now considering whether to implement recommendations the safety committee put together, or to work together to tweak them or find other ways to improve safety at these eight specific locations in order to move the route forward.

Council Member Chris Seelbach said the real time arrival signs at streetcar stations are getting better, but he still gets questions about them.

"The question that I get most often is that Uber can have a real time display of thousands of drivers that seems 100 percent accurate every day," Seelbach said. "But yet we can't keep track of five streetcars and exactly when they are going to arrive."

A Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) representative said even Uber has issues during special events with high demand on cellular networks.

Meanwhile, by the fall, the Cincy EZRide App will allow people to buy tickets and track the streetcar in real time. Right now that requires separate apps.

The groups are also suggesting a seasonal streetcar-only pass for the summer and fall months.

There was also discussion about launching a trolley-type vehicle to create an east/west connector in Downtown to get people to streetcar stops. The connector would run along Fifth and Sixth streets between Elm and Broadway.