Who Will Manage The Streetcar Once SORTA Is Out Of The Picture?

Sep 17, 2019

Cincinnati is working to takeover direct management of the city's streetcar system, which means the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) would no longer be the operator. But officials are still considering whether city staff will oversee the system, or hand that responsibility to a non-profit authority.

Council Member Greg Landsman said a consultant will help determine how to move forward.

"Who have expertise in this area and can say, 'yes here's how we could do it,' or 'no, it can't be done,' or 'it can only be done in this way,' " Landsman said.

A non-profit authority is providing oversight for streetcar systems in Portland, Ore., and Kansas City, Mo.

Council Member Chris Seelbach said he has concerns with that option.

"There's a lot of questions that would need to be answered about this," Seelbach said. "And a lot of, you know, what does this look like, who sits on the board, how are they appointed?  All of those, there are a million questions before I'll be comfortable going with this option."

City officials say it will cost more than $500,000 to transition SORTA out of the streetcar.  

Transdev will continue to operate the service with contract oversight from the city.  

But city officials said in a recent memo there is more to the transition than oversight of the Transdev contract.  The city said SORTA "provides services, technology, and staff resources that will have to be replicated or contracted by the city in order to assume a management role."

City officials have set up a transition plan, which identifies tasks and schedules for making the switch happen.  There's a Streetcar Transition Committee, with representatives from SORTA and the city, working on the plan.

The goal is to have the transition complete by Jan. 1, 2020.