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Finding Ways To Speed Up Cincinnati Streetcar Service

Jay Hanselman

Many people are still complaining about the reliability of Cincinnati's streetcar service.  

The system has delayed or missed trips around the loop, and is not meeting the 12 to 15 minute service intervals that were promised.  
In February, there were more than 1,000 late streetcar trips and another 200 were missed completely.

A working group consisting of various stakeholders has been meeting to improve this and other issues. Members gathered again Thursday at City Hall.

Cincinnati Bell CEO Ted Torbeck is co-chairing the group. He told members they need to review numbers and answer a simple question.

"Is this thing getting better or is it getting worse," Torbeck asked. "I think there are a handful of metrics that we ought to be looking at in this meeting to see if we are improving."

Torbeck wants officials managing the system to review data and report back on the reasons for late trips.

"What are the top 3 things that are driving late trips, and what are we doing about it? Who's responsible to get it fixed and when's it going to be done," Torbeck questioned.

Council Member Amy Murray is the other co-chair and agrees the group needs more information.

"I think what we really need to do to be able to make these decisions is one, see the chart that shows when people are riding the streetcar. We need the data," Murray said. "And we need the data on what's preventing this from happening and then we'll be able to look and make significant changes I think."

At its next meeting the group will consider ways to keep the streetcar on time from 7 to 9 in the morning, 11 to 1 midday and 4 to 6 in the afternoon. The focus is on commuters and people at lunchtime who have tight schedules.

"One of the main reasons we're not capturing those who are going to jobs or even on their lunch break is because they can't rely on the system; that it's going to be there when it says it's going to be there," said Council Member Chris Seelbach.

One of the big drivers is track blockages by illegally parked vehicles and, especially, delivery trucks at bars and restaurants in Downtown and Over-the-Rhine.  

An assistant city manager said these are common at nine spots along the streetcar route and they are working with businesses to address them. The city is now ticketing vehicles blocking the tracks. When streetcar service first started, there were more warnings than tickets.

Ongoing mechanical problems with the streetcar vehicles have also been causing delays.

Meanwhile, officials announced a streetcar-only monthly summer pass for June, July, and August will be available for $50 a month. Those are expected to be on sale in May.

Credit Provided / City of Cincinnati
City of Cincinnati
Map of top 9 spots for obstructions along Cincinnati streetcar route in February.

Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.