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Streetcar Ridership Increases, Investigation Underway After Two-Vehicle Accident

Jay Hanselman

Preliminary data show the number of streetcar boardings increased in April when compared to March. Assistant City Manager John Juech told a City Council committee Tuesday the preliminary figure was 49,966.
"Which would be our best month of 2017 so far," Juech said. "That's still a little bit below where we had been in the final months of 2016, but I think we've had a lot of discussion about things that we're doing to drive ridership over the summer."

The Numbers

  • January - 35,334
  • February - 36,681
  • March - 34,679
  • April - 49,966

The weekday numbers are still below budget estimates, while Saturday and Sunday boardings continue to exceed projections.

Meanwhile, Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) representatives told the committee it could take weeks to repair the damages after one streetcar hit another one parked at the maintenance facility in Over-the-Rhine Sunday evening.

Rail Services Manager Paul Grether explained what happened.

"For reasons to be determined by the investigation, the streetcar entered track two instead of track three, where streetcar 1179 was stored, parked (with) no persons on board, and collided head on with streetcar 1179," Grether said.

SORTA's systems safety director T.J. Thorn is handling the actual investigation.

"I will not determine preventability, that's up to Transdev to determine preventability for their operator," Thorn said. "But I will get you a root cause. And based on the root cause, and most of the time with these incidents you're going to have several contributing factors that could be rules violations, it could be human factor, it could be mechanical. I have to rule all of those out and get it down to a root cause."

SORTA has a contract with Cincinnati to manage streetcar operations, and SORTA contracted with Transdev to actually operate the vehicles.

Officials are working on a timeline to make repairs to the streetcars, but both are expected to be idled for weeks.  

If there's an issue with one of the remaining vehicles, it could affect service levels especially, during peak hours when three streetcars are needed to run the route.

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.