2023's streetcar ridership has already broken last year's record
Cincinnati's streetcar is having its busiest year yet. In September, the rail line broke its all-time ridership record with 115,114 people boarding the loop through Over-the-Rhine and Downtown.
The streetcar has served more than 100,000 riders each month for the past five months. In June and July, it broke its previous ridership record of 103,700 set in October 2022. BLINK is largely credited for that first record-breaking number, but Deputy Director of Streetcar Operations Lori Burchett says as people get familiar with the service, Cincinnati is likely to see ridership continue to increase, especially as more people choose to use it on their way to big events.
"People are using it for the Monday Night Football game [of] the Bengals. We saw that in September, and also the Oktoberfest was a big ridership weekend as well," she says. "People were using the system to get all over that area."
The record-breaking month has also pushed the streetcar's annual passenger total past last year's.
The streetcar has served 849,161 passengers through September, already beating the previous 2022 record of 846,622 passengers for the whole year.
That number has the streetcar on pace to surpass a million riders by the end of the year. But, the colder months ahead could mean fewer riders, so Burchett says a million riders isn't a guarantee despite the impressive stretch.
"We could pass a million, but I don't want to make any promises," Burchett says. "But, we are starting to see really positive trends."
Those positive trends could lead to bigger things for the streetcar later on, but for right now Cincinnati's Department of Transportation & Engineering is focusing on streamlining the streetcar's existing service to accommodate the growing number of passengers.
When it comes to a possible expansion of the loop or other improvements, Burchett says she's looking to city leadership to make that call.