After months of searching, Cincinnati has selected an interim deputy director for the streetcar system.
City Manager Patrick Duhaney announced Tuesday he's selected Travis Jeric for the position.
Jeric is currently a senior assistant city solicitor. He has worked in the law department's real estate division since 2016. The manager said in a statement he's played a key role in effectively managing complex, multi-faceted projects including the improvements to Riverside Drive.
Assistant City Manager John Juech spoke to a City Council committee about conversations he had with Jeric for the position.
"Whatever it takes to make the system a success, we're open-minded to," Juech said. "It does need a fresh set of eyes. I've been very immersed for years, but I'm frankly excited about the opportunity of having someone new with new talent, with new energy, take a look at some of these things and I think all options are on the table."
Juech made headlines in 2018 when he said many of the streetcar's problems could be attributed to the fact that there isn't one person in charge. "You need one neck to choke," he said last March. "If things are going wrong, you need to know who's responsible and who can get it fixed. As of now, we don't have that and I think that's a real constraint."
Jeric takes over March 10 and his orders are to improve the service that's been plagued with numerous problems.
Council Member Greg Landsman said he has to be engaged in the process.
"...Mr. Jeric is fully empowered to not only manage the contracts and balance the budget and all the sort of day-to-day pieces, but to present a new vision for this project, one that puts us on an entirely new trajectory," Landsman said.
At least one council member doesn't agree with the selection.
Chris Seelbach said another local person, whom he declined to identify, would have done a better job leading the streetcar system.
"(This person) could have really have taken the streetcar in the direction that it needs to go to be successful and think not just about pennies and cents and contracts," Seelbach said. "But how can we make the streetcar a useful transportation tool for people, and things like signal prioritization, making the streetcar free and others are at the forefront of how we do that."
Some other facts revealed at a committee meeting Tuesday concerning the streetcar:
- There were several vehicle issues in January that were described as the highest number of problems since passenger service started in September 2016.
- Three areas with the highest number of streetcar track blockages are Government Square, near the Aronoff Center and around Rhinegeist Brewery.
- Ridership continues to be seasonal, with higher numbers in the warmer months. January saw 22,000 rides.
- Headways (arrival at stops) are 13.5 minutes during the peak hours, and 15.5 minutes during non-peak hours. Contract calls for 12 minutes during peak, and 15 minutes for off-peak.
- SORTA has identified three alternate service time proposals for the city to consider, but those details were not announced. City Council could soon seek public comment on changing the operating hours of the system to reflect when people are using the service.