Feds say no to Cranley on extending streetcar funding deadline

Dec 13, 2013

Federal transit officials Friday morning refused Mayor John Cranley's request to extend the Dec. 19 deadline for pulling $45 million in federal money from the streetcar project.

But the mayor's spokesman, Jay Kincaid, says Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff did agree to talk to pro-streetcar advocates to allow them to make a pitch for more time.

Thursday, Cranley asked pro-streetcar supporters to put together a plan to come up with $80 million to cover the costs of operating the $133 million streetcar over 30 years. If they can do that, Cranley said the city would complete the 3-point-6 mile loop.

We Believe in Cincinnati, the pro-streetcar group, is working on a plan to come up with the money from a variety of sources. Cranley, who is in Washington Friday, had promised to ask federal transit officials to push back the Dec. 19 deadline.

The Federal Transit Administration officials told Cranley that the city would not have to certify a streetcar operating plan until 2016, when the streetcar would start running.

But, in a press release, Cranley said the city would be obligated to run the streetcar system for at least 25 years. Because of that requirement, “others will have no incentive to contribute to the operating cost.”

“Thus, a legally binding agreement to cover the system’s operating costs with private funding must be in place before construction can continue,’’ Cranley said in his press release.

Ryan Messer, a leader of We Believe in Cincinnati, said his group expects to have a plan put together by Monday that will include revenue from fares, advertising on streetcars, possibly some state money and money from private sources.