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Cincinnati Streetcar / Cincinnati Bell Connector News

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In either scenario, SORTA is going to hire a private company to operate (manage) the streetcar. The only difference is whether that private company uses SORTA employees (more expensive) or their own private employees (less expensive). At this point, there are not enough votes for City Council to force either of those options on SORTA, so it will be up to them to decide.

 

Thanks. Seems to me the turnkey would be the right choice here.

 

The turnkey option is clearly the better option. It's just politics getting in the way. The turnkey option allows for the workers to unionize, so they're both union contracts. The difference is that with the management option, ATU operators for Metro will get to keep their seniority and heightened pay, which is well earned and deserved, by not a reflection on their skills as a streetcar operator. This is why it's the more expensive option. They will need to be trained (at another added expense) on how to drive a streetcar. The turnkey option will hire trained streetcar operators to start the system and will allow for any Metro drivers who want to drive the streetcar to get certified and apply. They will lose their seniority, by that's only fair when you leave one job and go to another where you need to be trained. As streetcar operators they will be allowed to unionize and get all of the same benefits as Metro employees.

 

The more I read about it, the more I actually just support the turnkey option. I didn't realize they would still be unionized (all for workers' rights) under that option. I thought that was the biggest difference. If I'm sitting on council as a dem, I'm saying "Hey, let's do the cheaper option that keeps us under-budget by about $200k AND the workers will still be unionized. Just a different union."

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There was to be a 1:00 p.m. - Major Transportation & Regional Cooperation Committee meeting today but now the City Council website says it is CANCELLED.

 

It was moved to 1:30. Coming up!

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In either scenario, SORTA is going to hire a private company to operate (manage) the streetcar. The only difference is whether that private company uses SORTA employees (more expensive) or their own private employees (less expensive). At this point, there are not enough votes for City Council to force either of those options on SORTA, so it will be up to them to decide.

 

Thanks for the breakdown!

 

Thanks. Seems to me the turnkey would be the right choice here.

 

The turnkey option is clearly the better option. It's just politics getting in the way. The turnkey option allows for the workers to unionize, so they're both union contracts. The difference is that with the management option, ATU operators for Metro will get to keep their seniority and heightened pay, which is well earned and deserved, by not a reflection on their skills as a streetcar operator. This is why it's the more expensive option. They will need to be trained (at another added expense) on how to drive a streetcar. The turnkey option will hire trained streetcar operators to start the system and will allow for any Metro drivers who want to drive the streetcar to get certified and apply. They will lose their seniority, by that's only fair when you leave one job and go to another where you need to be trained. As streetcar operators they will be allowed to unionize and get all of the same benefits as Metro employees.

 

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There was to be a 1:00 p.m. - Major Transportation & Regional Cooperation Committee meeting today but now the City Council website says it is CANCELLED.

 

It was moved to 1:30. Coming up!

 

A highly agitated and animated John Cranley has hijacked the meeting!


"It's just fate, as usual, keeping its bargain and screwing us in the fine print..." - John Crichton

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For the life of me I can't understand why they would do this. Why not choose the option with known costs that are under budget!? I just want one of them to explain. Simply saying they support unions is not enough for me. With all of the unjustified attacks on the projects, why would they do something that deliberately costs more with no added benefit to the service?

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I got a little confused by the full series of events that went down today. There was discussion of a motion that would require SORTA to not cut streetcar service. So if both of these were to pass, that would mean that SORTA has to choose the more expensive option but still not reduce the frequency... so I guess the city would be required to find the extra money for operations. I believe this is why Cranley was throwing around the phrase "blank check" a lot today.

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Why not just concede the union option and do the fiscally responsible options that would get 6 votes? Cranley will veto the additional money.

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For the life of me I can't understand why they would do this. Why not choose the option with known costs that are under budget!? I just want one of them to explain. Simply saying they support unions is not enough for me. With all of the unjustified attacks on the projects, why would they do something that deliberately costs more with no added benefit to the service?

 

Good question, it comes down to one word - P-O-L-I-T-I-C-S

 

They don't want to bite the hand that feeds them.

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As it stands now:

 

Committed funds to the streetcar are $4.2 million annually.

 

The union (mgmt) option is listed at $4.7 million minimum. It has been repeatedly mentioned that this is the bare minimum and costs will rise above this.

 

The private (turn-key) option is listed at $4.0 million.

 

With the added $2,000,000 committed today, that brings the total committed to $4.6 million annually. Still $100,000 short of the (too small) union minimum option.

 

This makes me lose a lot of trust in some I thought were above petty politics and pandering (Yvette Simpson and Wendell Young mostly).

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I get the reasoning. It's not just about union politics. How does it make sense to hire a private company who will bring in their own employees to operate the streetcar, but have regular SORTA employees driving buses? You are essentially creating two classes of SORTA employees. Can SORTA then start bidding out parts of the bus system? What if they find that it's cheaper to hire an outside company with private employees to run Metro Plus routes? It doesn't make sense as a long term solution.

 

However, with the unwillingness to dedicate any additional funding to the streetcar under the current administration and political climate, I don't see any other option but to select the turn-key solution for for the initial five year contract. Revisit it in 2021 when we could have a different council makeup and it's more clear to some of the skeptics that the streetcar is worth the investment.

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I get the reasoning. It's not just about union politics. How does it make sense to hire a private company who will bring in their own employees to operate the streetcar, but have regular SORTA employees driving buses? You are essentially creating two classes of SORTA employees. Can SORTA then start bidding out parts of the bus system? What if they find that it's cheaper to hire an outside company with private employees to run Metro Plus routes? It doesn't make sense as a long term solution.

 

Driving a streetcar and driving a bus are two very different things.  Bus drivers are very good as reacting to obstacles on the road by maneuvering around them, sometimes making split second decisions to do so.  Streetcars require you to pay attention to peripheral surroundings and stop the streetcar if anything is blocking the path. They actually really shouldn't be the same employees. Atlanta hired city employees with CDLs and they've already had two streetcars totaled because of operators continuing the drive when they should've stopped.

 

SORTA already has different divisions with Metro bus employees and Access paratransit employees operating under completely different contracts. It's not a stretch at all to add a division with the streetcar by selecting the turnkey option.

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Yeah, good point about Access being outsourced. I understand that it is a different skillset, but I think it makes sense in the long term for all of these operators to be "true" SORTA employees. Like I said, I am okay with the outsourcing to save money in the short term, but it should be revisited when we have a more pro-transit mayor and/or a supermajority pro-transit council.

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Let's not forget that the difference is a crazy small part of the budget and all the brohaha (yeah, I wrote it "bro" on purpose) could be fixed by a property tax on the area that services the streetcar.

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Is the high quote of 4.7 million based on revenue from fares and advertising as well?

 

The $4.7 million is the cost, not the revenue. The city has basically come up with funding to operate the streetcar up to $4.2 million (ads, fare box, direct city subsidy, etc). The added $2,000,000 over 5 years brings that total to $4.6 million/year. Still $100,000/year short of the $4.7 million which is not an all inclusive cost. So we are still much shorter than $100,000/year.

 

Let's not forget that the difference is a crazy small part of the budget and all the brohaha (yeah, I wrote it "bro" on purpose) could be fixed by a property tax on the area that services the streetcar.

 

Apparently it's logistically really difficult to institute this (2/3 of property owners in the district or something have to sign). I would sign up if I were included in the district, but I don't think I am on Mulberry Street.

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John is correct. The only reason the DCI SID exists is that it was created by the City with countless hours of City staff time.  Obviously they weren't going to do that this time (despite the fact they should have).  Individual people can't create SID's.  They only other ones that exist are usually created in a master development in the Suburbs at the time that the area is still mostly farmland. 

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Aside from the streetcar funding issue, I would like to see DCI slowly expand to cover more area. Maybe next time they're up for renewal, they could "annex" the properties on Vine up to 14th into their boundary. It wouldn't dramatically change the economics of what they do now, but it would give them a lot of thriving businesses to include within their boundaries. Then they could expand their "safe & clean" programs to cover that area of Vine Street. If it goes well, they could expand it a few more blocks next time it's up for renewal.

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This makes me lose a lot of trust in some I thought were above petty politics and pandering (Yvette Simpson and Wendell Young mostly).

 

"It looks like these ordinances are dead. Councilman Wendell Young is pulling his support."

 

Looks like the petty politics finally got to Young.

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Alright guys, I hate to come in and mix it up again, but seriously, THE POLES HOLDING THE OVERHEAD WIRE ARE HORRENDOUS. They are horribly bright in the sun, and are so numerous and intrusive as to practically ruin the long view down Elm and Race. Two streets that have had millions -and years- put into their beautification. Looking at Portland, I can't find any images that are even a fraction as jarring as OTR. Will these things oxidize and fade over time? Can they be painted at all?

 

Someone dropped the ball with this, in my opinion.

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The mayor gave a petulant, class-baiting, race-baiting, intellectually dishonest speech after he failed to get his way on the streetcar vote today.  Luckily Flynn and Mann (and probably others joined in but I had to run errands and couldn't keep watching) didn't hesitate to rebut his cringe-worthy remarks. 

 

Mr. Cranley has made a fool of himself two days in a row on this union/operating issue -- but our local media seem to be covering up for him.  So far The Enquirer is characterizing the vote today as a flip flop by Wendell Young rather than another streetcar defeat for Cranley, who is obviously trying to sabotage the project any way he can.  His idea of fiscal conservatism is truly perverted in this case, considering the millions that would be wasted if the streetcar fails. 

 

I'm beginning to think The Confederacy has nothing over die-hard streetcar opponents.  It's embarrassing to see our mayor behave like a spoiled brat who didn't get his way.  He refuses, kicking and screaming, to acknowledge the economic development successes the streetcar has already conferred.  He's the sorest of losers and if I were his wife I'd tell him to shape up, get with the program, and behave with some graciousness and maturity.  He's a mayor of a major city for crying out loud and should act like one.  Sheesh. 

 

 

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Alright guys, I hate to come in and mix it up again, but seriously, THE POLES HOLDING THE OVERHEAD WIRE ARE HORRENDOUS. They are horribly bright in the sun, and are so numerous and intrusive as to practically ruin the long view down Elm and Race. Two streets that have had millions -and years- put into their beautification. Looking at Portland, I can't find any images that are even a fraction as jarring as OTR. Will these things oxidize and fade over time? Can they be painted at all?

 

Someone dropped the ball with this, in my opinion.

 

They will dull-down and be OK.

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The mayor gave a petulant, class-baiting, race-baiting, intellectually dishonest speech after he failed to get his way on the streetcar vote today.  Luckily Flynn and Mann (and probably others joined in but I had to run errands and couldn't keep watching) didn't hesitate to rebut his cringe-worthy remarks. 

 

Mr. Cranley has made a fool of himself two days in a row on this union/operating issue -- but our local media seem to be covering up for him.  So far The Enquirer is characterizing the vote today as a flip flop by Wendell Young rather than another streetcar defeat for Cranley, who is obviously trying to sabotage the project any way he can.  His idea of fiscal conservatism is truly perverted in this case, considering the millions that would be wasted if the streetcar fails. 

 

I'm beginning to think The Confederacy has nothing over die-hard streetcar opponents.  It's embarrassing to see our mayor behave like a spoiled brat who didn't get his way.  He refuses, kicking and screaming, to acknowledge the economic development successes the streetcar has already conferred.  He's the sorest of losers and if I were his wife I'd tell him to shape up, get with the program, and behave with some graciousness and maturity.  He's a mayor of a major city for crying out loud and should act like one.  Sheesh.

 

All this language about how SORTA has to run it based on how much the city gives them to run it. I suppose this means he will try to pull funding.  Can he?

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The mayor gave a petulant, class-baiting, race-baiting, intellectually dishonest speech after he failed to get his way on the streetcar vote today.  Luckily Flynn and Mann (and probably others joined in but I had to run errands and couldn't keep watching) didn't hesitate to rebut his cringe-worthy remarks. 

 

Mr. Cranley has made a fool of himself two days in a row on this union/operating issue -- but our local media seem to be covering up for him.  So far The Enquirer is characterizing the vote today as a flip flop by Wendell Young rather than another streetcar defeat for Cranley, who is obviously trying to sabotage the project any way he can.  His idea of fiscal conservatism is truly perverted in this case, considering the millions that would be wasted if the streetcar fails. 

 

I'm beginning to think The Confederacy has nothing over die-hard streetcar opponents.  It's embarrassing to see our mayor behave like a spoiled brat who didn't get his way.  He refuses, kicking and screaming, to acknowledge the economic development successes the streetcar has already conferred.  He's the sorest of losers and if I were his wife I'd tell him to shape up, get with the program, and behave with some graciousness and maturity.  He's a mayor of a major city for crying out loud and should act like one.  Sheesh.

 

All this language about how SORTA has to run it based on how much the city gives them to run it. I suppose this means he will try to pull funding.  Can he?

 

Not without a replay of December 2013

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One of the great benefits of riding a tram/streetcar in most cities is it has a lane usually dedicated to it (along with other modes of public transit) with signal priority.  Its a great feeling to be riding transit and wiz past idling cars going no where in both directions. The lack of  dedicated lanes seems to be a major drawback of the current system, slowing it down tremendously. Causing it to meddle with auto/truck traffic, thus increasing the possibilities for accidents. With the amount of one way lanes the route takes, is there any talk about creating dedicated lanes for public transit systems. Coupled with an increase in frequency, dedicated lanes, and signal prioroity could go a long way in helping people ditch their cars in the urban basin.   

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Let's not forget that the difference is a crazy small part of the budget and all the brohaha (yeah, I wrote it "bro" on purpose) could be fixed by a property tax on the area that services the streetcar.

 

Apparently it's logistically really difficult to institute this (2/3 of property owners in the district or something have to sign). I would sign up if I were included in the district, but I don't think I am on Mulberry Street.

 

Well, certainly making a slight attempt is better than no attempt at all.  Also, with 3CDC owning so many properties (and other groups such as Urban Sites and Model as well), it seems like this is a better candidate for a SID than most.

 

Also, thomasbw once mentioned raising property taxes across the board in the City to pay for operations, and then instituting a rollback for the amount raised on any property not within the zone as a way to work around the SID.  Whether or not this is possible, it would be nice to see some sort of movement from supporters and die-hard complainers to put the operating costs on the properties that are primarily benefited, not simply because they are the primary beneficiaries, but also to give some of those owners/tenants a push to shift out of cars.

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The mayor gave a petulant, class-baiting, race-baiting, intellectually dishonest speech after he failed to get his way on the streetcar vote today.  Luckily Flynn and Mann (and probably others joined in but I had to run errands and couldn't keep watching) didn't hesitate to rebut his cringe-worthy remarks. 

 

Mr. Cranley has made a fool of himself two days in a row on this union/operating issue -- but our local media seem to be covering up for him.  So far The Enquirer is characterizing the vote today as a flip flop by Wendell Young rather than another streetcar defeat for Cranley, who is obviously trying to sabotage the project any way he can.  His idea of fiscal conservatism is truly perverted in this case, considering the millions that would be wasted if the streetcar fails. 

 

I'm beginning to think The Confederacy has nothing over die-hard streetcar opponents.  It's embarrassing to see our mayor behave like a spoiled brat who didn't get his way.  He refuses, kicking and screaming, to acknowledge the economic development successes the streetcar has already conferred.  He's the sorest of losers and if I were his wife I'd tell him to shape up, get with the program, and behave with some graciousness and maturity.  He's a mayor of a major city for crying out loud and should act like one.  Sheesh. 

 

 

 

Don't expect that from her.

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This makes me lose a lot of trust in some I thought were above petty politics and pandering (Yvette Simpson and Wendell Young mostly).

 

"It looks like these ordinances are dead. Councilman Wendell Young is pulling his support."

 

Looks like the petty politics finally got to Young.

 

Sounds like Young did the right thing.

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One of the great benefits of riding a tram/streetcar in most cities is it has a lane usually dedicated to it (along with other modes of public transit) with signal priority.  Its a great feeling to be riding transit and wiz past idling cars going no where in both directions. The lack of  dedicated lanes seems to be a major drawback of the current system, slowing it down tremendously. Causing it to meddle with auto/truck traffic, thus increasing the possibilities for accidents. With the amount of one way lanes the route takes, is there any talk about creating dedicated lanes for public transit systems. Coupled with an increase in frequency, dedicated lanes, and signal prioroity could go a long way in helping people ditch their cars in the urban basin.   

 

Cincinnati has almost no wide streets (most Cincinnati streets are 66 feet between property lines), and the streets in Europe (and in Boston) that have streetcars running down a landscaped reservation are usually significantly wider than our Central Parkway.  That is the widest road in our city, with about 130 feet between property lines, but many streets in Europe as well as Commonwealth Ave., etc., in Boston are 150-170 feet wide. 

 

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The ATU is already attacking Young. They are not acknowledging Cranely's position to force the union option without funding it.

 

And it is a poorly written attack. Like an angry email that you write and send at the heat of the moment and then regret the next morning. Surprised it hasn't been edited...


"It's just fate, as usual, keeping its bargain and screwing us in the fine print..." - John Crichton

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Shows whats why money needs to be out of politics. Because they donated a certain amount to Young they expect to get everything handed to them regardless of what makes sense.

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True, although I've noticed the OCS arms are fading as they are exposed to the elements more.  They are a bit less noticeable than they were when they were brand new and a shiny metallic silver. They're a bit duller now.

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One of the great benefits of riding a tram/streetcar in most cities is it has a lane usually dedicated to it (along with other modes of public transit) with signal priority.  Its a great feeling to be riding transit and wiz past idling cars going no where in both directions. The lack of  dedicated lanes seems to be a major drawback of the current system, slowing it down tremendously. Causing it to meddle with auto/truck traffic, thus increasing the possibilities for accidents. With the amount of one way lanes the route takes, is there any talk about creating dedicated lanes for public transit systems. Coupled with an increase in frequency, dedicated lanes, and signal prioroity could go a long way in helping people ditch their cars in the urban basin.   

 

Cincinnati has almost no wide streets (most Cincinnati streets are 66 feet between property lines), and the streets in Europe (and in Boston) that have streetcars running down a landscaped reservation are usually significantly wider than our Central Parkway.  That is the widest road in our city, with about 130 feet between property lines, but many streets in Europe as well as Commonwealth Ave., etc., in Boston are 150-170 feet wide.

 

What about eliminating parking on one side of the street. To allow one lane for transit and one lane for mixed use traffic?

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One of the great benefits of riding a tram/streetcar in most cities is it has a lane usually dedicated to it (along with other modes of public transit) with signal priority.  Its a great feeling to be riding transit and wiz past idling cars going no where in both directions. The lack of  dedicated lanes seems to be a major drawback of the current system, slowing it down tremendously. Causing it to meddle with auto/truck traffic, thus increasing the possibilities for accidents. With the amount of one way lanes the route takes, is there any talk about creating dedicated lanes for public transit systems. Coupled with an increase in frequency, dedicated lanes, and signal prioroity could go a long way in helping people ditch their cars in the urban basin.   

 

Cincinnati has almost no wide streets (most Cincinnati streets are 66 feet between property lines), and the streets in Europe (and in Boston) that have streetcars running down a landscaped reservation are usually significantly wider than our Central Parkway.  That is the widest road in our city, with about 130 feet between property lines, but many streets in Europe as well as Commonwealth Ave., etc., in Boston are 150-170 feet wide.

 

What about eliminating parking on one side of the street. To allow one lane for transit and one lane for mixed use traffic?

 

If the streetcar is a popular as I think it will be and a few traffic engineers retire, we'll get signal priority where we need it. This whole argument about dedicated lanes for streetcars is kind of silly since the average trip on a streetcar is a little over a mile. The streetcar may get held up in traffic and be no faster than driving, but it's much faster than parking and walking. And a lot cheaper.

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John Schneider[/member], could City Council pass a motion requiring the DOTE to add signal prioritization (for both streetcars and buses) along the route?

 

I also agree that the dedicated lane isn't necessary, but signal prioritization would be great.

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I dunno what the process would be. Our case will be strongest if we can show more people than projected are living their lives around the streetcar and so would benefit from less friction. Too early to tell.

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True, although I've noticed the OCS arms are fading as they are exposed to the elements more.  They are a bit less noticeable than they were when they were brand new and a shiny metallic silver. They're a bit duller now.

 

Well we're certainly not distracted by the wire but the poles are pretty damn distracting.  First time I've seen that happen, other than in cities where the whole system looks cheap or it's all faded candy colors from the 80s like Buffalo or Memphis. 

 

Incidentally the complicated wiring looks to be about half assembled above the junction at Race and 12th. 

 

 

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Walnut Street freshly repaved:

18584795103_5a2b5b7f3a_b.jpg

 

DO NOT bike this close to the streetcar tracks, people. Especially while speeding down a hill. You are cruisin' for a bruisin':

19019216009_212db440d6_b.jpg

 

New station signage:

19179350006_d9b93c7152_b.jpg

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