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Riders Complying With Streetcar Fare Policy & Summer Pass Coming Soon

Jay Hanselman

Rumors continue to circulate that many people are riding the Cincinnati streetcar without paying the fares.

But officials say riders are being checked.  
Paul Grether, manager of rail services for the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority, told a city council committee Tuesday the agency is following industry best practices concerning fares.

"And they recommend that in a new system you check about 25 percent of the people," Grether said. "Those checks occur at random. We have a different schedule every day. Sometimes it's early in the morning; sometimes it's during the day; sometimes it's at night; sometimes it's the entire day. So, the public will never know when the checks are going to take place."

Grether said 99 percent of the riders checked have paid their fares.  

Those who have not are being cited.  A first-time violation is a $100 fine and a second offense increases to $200.  

Cincinnati police officers, working off duty for the streetcar operator, are checking passengers for fares.

Meanwhile, SORTA is getting ready to start selling monthly summer passes for the Cincinnati Bell Connector.  

Sallie Hilvers said promotion is called "Connect to Summer Fun."

"They are in production as we speak and should be here by May, so we intend to start selling them in May," Hilvers said. "The cost is $50 a month, set by the city. Good for unlimited rides each month on the streetcar. So, you can choose to buy one, you can choose to buy two or three. But this is one we're able to do under federal regulations."

A similar promotion is also being planned for the fall months too.  

Some city council members expressed concerns about the passes costing $50 a month, which is just ten dollars less than buying a two-dollar daily pass for each day of the month.  

Council and the city administration will be discussing whether the summer passes should have a lower price.

Through the end of February, Cincinnati's streetcar operating budget continued to show a $158,304 surplus even as ridership numbers remain below projections.  

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.