People in Downtown Cincinnati and Over-the-Rhine have been seeing the streetcars on the tracks for testing, and starting this weekend they will see them a lot more.
Simulated revenue service begins Sunday, with the system operating with everything but passengers.
"The maintenance folks have to prepare the fleet for service every morning and have the requisite number of vehicles available to run that days schedule," said Paul Grether, SORTA's rail services director. "The operators have to show up for their shifts. They will pull the vehicles out and they'll run their schedule. So we'll be making all the station stops, announcements, everything other than carrying passengers."
The dedication ceremony for the streetcar system is set for Friday, September 9 starting at 10:30 a.m. at Washington Park.
Grether said to expect many riders on the first weekend, and he is asking for patience.
"If we get into a situation where there are crowds, there will be mandatory off-loading," Grether said. "Not to worry. You can either get back in line to ride the streetcar again or we'll have buses available to carry folks back to where they need to go. We're not going to strand anyone, but we do want to be very diligent to make sure everyone gets a ride because that's very important on the grand opening."
Officials are trying to secure a sponsor to make streetcar rides free on the opening weekend.
Meanwhile, SORTA and the city are still working with state and federal officials on the final safety certification. That must be in place prior to passenger service beginning.
Cincinnati officials also said Tuesday the construction contingency budget for the project is now about $3 million. That has increased as some costs came in lower than projected. That included the main construction contract, which was $2 million less than anticipated.
The extra contingency funds could be used to assist with startup costs and setting up a fund for future capital expenses once the system is operating.