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thomasbw

Cincinnati Streetcar / Cincinnati Bell Connector News

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1 hour ago, JYP said:

Not to mention fixing the unnecessary signal light at Green and Race and adding a streetcar exception to the stop sign at Henry and Race. Things that literally can happen today. 

You also have the pedestrian walk signal occur before the streetcar signal at the three midblock lane change crossings along the route which adds 66 additional seconds every single loop. The Green and Race signal (which you could just cover with a Crosswalk sign) adds an average of about 8 seconds per loop. 

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49 minutes ago, thomasbw said:

You also have the pedestrian walk signal occur before the streetcar signal at the three midblock lane change crossings along the route which adds 66 additional seconds every single loop.

This could be an opportunity to tout a "Smart City" solution, and have the pedestrian signal first when a streetcar isn't waiting/approaching and the streetcar signal first if there is a streetcar waiting/approaching.

 

Or, really, just give an approaching streetcar preemption on every single light. #SmartCity

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Let's make sure we get voices in there, I'm worried the anti-streetcar people could mobilize if that meeting reaches enough ears.

 

If there is a choice between decent service and removing ticketing, fare-free is still the more important need at this juncture. What good is decent service if you miss your train due to ridiculous ticketing machines?

Edited by 10albersa

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The CB Connector  had more riders during three days of Blink (35,168) than it did in all of November (32,742). Milwaukee's fare free system had 52,998 riders in November,Kansas City's  had 155,307.

 

The FY20 Streetcar budget assumes $0.65 per rider in gross fare revenue (child, senior citizen discounts, multiple rides on day passes) and an average of $21,083.33 per month in ticket collection costs (printing tickets, TVM maintenance, credit card fees, etc).

 

That puts net fare revenue for the streetcar at $351.16 for the entire month of November or about $0.27 per vehicle per hour. (Note this doesn't include the cost of paying police to check tickets, which is about another $10,0000 a month.)

 

Even if we just get Milwaukee numbers by going fare free, for November that would be a 61.8% increase for the cost of $11.71 a day.

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Cincinnati Bell has been sold:

https://www.wcpo.com/money/business-news/cincinnati-bell-will-be-acquired-by-toronto-based-company-in-2-6-billion-deal

 

Reason #999 why the sale of corporate naming rights for public assets (stadiums, streetcars) is soul-crushing - the branding that we were told was oh-so precious now means nothing.  

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I suspect this acquisition has a lot more to do with the fiber network that Cincinnati Bell has built out than the local phone and internet service that they offer. I would expect the local phone and internet service to continue operating under the Cincinnati Bell brand, unless they decide to sell off that part of the business to either CenturyLink or AT&T.

 

As for the naming rights...this acquisition might result in Cincinnati Bell not renewing their naming rights...but there is also a good chance that they weren't planning to renew them anyway...

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In early December, 3CDC sold a pair of 25x100 lots along the streetcar line for $485,000.  The addresses are 1409 & 1411 Race.  Here is the location where we'll likely soon see a pair of $1 million homes:

https://www.google.com/maps/@39.1107688,-84.5170911,3a,75y,266.54h,88.52t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1szieYzOhkczvU7vmnkQVEfg!2e0!7i16384!8i8192

 

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The Enquirer's podcast is a disaster.  Brian Shrive of COAST is the guest.  Around minute 50 he gets Jason Williams and Sharon Coolidge to laugh about his streetcar pinata at COAST's 2013 Christmas Party:

https://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/politics/2020/01/08/podcast-cincinnati-attorneys-relentless-pursuit-transparency/2838045001/

 

It's 2020.  COAST has been harassing the streetcar for 12 years. 

 

It's also revealed that COAST has had various breakfasts and lunches, one-on-one, with various SORTA board members and staff members. 

 

Williams and Coolidge operate at a 9th grade level. 

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I haven't clicked an Enquirer link in ages. I see they are still producing gems like: "You won't want to miss this lively chat with one of the city's most influential rabble rousers".

 

 


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

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Yea I deleted the app awhile ago and quit sharing the links on my pages.   They will be gone soon enough.   Why settle for junk journalism when their is so much to choose from these days?

Edited by oakiehigh

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Tried using the Streetcar on New Year's Eve. Per a days old tweet, it was going to stop running at "normal time" (which when you dig through the City's awful website, you can find out that the normal time for a weekday is midnight). So it allegedly stopped running at Midnight. 

 

On New Year's Eve. 

We skipped some plans since we couldn't rely on it, had no response from their Twitter account, and an Uber was going to be too ridiculously priced (nor could we get a decent bus route at the time we were going to need). 

Found out the next day that apparently the Streetcar was still taking on passengers after midnight. 

It's New Year's Eve for crying out loud. Why not have the thing run and have signage at every stop?

Also, the integration with the Transit app. While it's nice to have ever service in one app: the payment process is slow and cumbersome. It was way easier to store your CC info and quickly buy tickets on the previous app. Transit does offer real-time tracking, but it's still inconsistent and the signs at stations are still bad. And the payment machines are still terrible. 

Look, we all knew the city was going to poorly manage this thing after the "divorce," but the streetcar has never been properly managed since its opening by any oversight group. 

Is anyone going to do something soon? It's like a bad joke to have seen this opportunity wasted for what will be four years in September while Kansas City and all these other cities have success. 

 

Cincinnati is so milquetoast these days. 

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1 hour ago, Gordon Bombay said:

It's New Year's Eve for crying out loud. Why not have the thing run and have signage at every stop

 

If the 25 year-old ARTIMIS signs can be made to read "Monster Mash - Not Monster Crash" then I'd think they could make the 5 year-old digital streetcar signs read "last train at 1am", or whatever the situation is.  

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1 hour ago, jmecklenborg said:

Just pay cash.  I don't get the obsession with the app or apps in general.  

Most people under the age of 35 don't carry cash. 

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2 hours ago, jmecklenborg said:

Just pay cash.  I don't get the obsession with the app or apps in general.  

 

App makers are obsessed with apps since they have almost no regulations as compared to the web.

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2 hours ago, jmecklenborg said:

Just pay cash.  I don't get the obsession with the app or apps in general.  

 

I mean—I get it (and you know I respect you), but quite simply that's not the way the world is going. It's not an obsession with "apps" so much as it's convenience. I'd rather buy 10 day passes and have them ready at will without having to carry tickets, cards, or cash. This is the way every other system works. The issue is that the app, while it works, isn't great or easy to understand/use. Especially if you're downloading it for the first time and have arrived at a station where ticket machine isn't working. 

Speaking of which... another reason why cash is moot in this case: our ticket vending machines are awful, always have been, and apparently will continue to be. 
 

4 minutes ago, jmecklenborg said:

 

Maybe it's time to grow up.  


Ok, boomer. 😉❤️ 

 

2 hours ago, jmecklenborg said:

 

If the 25 year-old ARTIMIS signs can be made to read "Monster Mash - Not Monster Crash" then I'd think they could make the 5 year-old digital streetcar signs read "last train at 1am", or whatever the situation is.  

 

This is my favorite post. 

Edited by Gordon Bombay

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15 minutes ago, GCrites80s said:

 

App makers are obsessed with apps since they have almost no regulations as compared to the web.

 

I listened to Rick Steeves 1-2 weeks ago on NPR complaining about young travelers using app-based navigation.  A traditional map gives you the overall lay of the land, argues Steeves.  

 

I only didn't find something twice in my life before I had a phone with a map on it.  One was a party in high school that might or might not have actually existed.  The other time I couldn't find a wedding in the Tennessee mountains and then got caught behind a farm tractor towing hay.  I showed up just as the bride & groom were kissing.  A phone wouldn't have worked up there anyway.  

 

 

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2 hours ago, jmecklenborg said:

Just pay cash.  I don't get the obsession with the app or apps in general.  

 

In the late 2020's cash is going to make a comeback and all the hipsters will pay in gold bullion.


“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.”
-Friedrich Nietzsche

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Using the machines (whether with cash or credit card) is the best way to guarantee you miss your car, even if it's still three blocks away when you start.  The last two days I've walked by some of the stops, a worker had the machines opened up for service with the guts spilled out (so more than just loading and unloading cash).  What do you do then? 

 

The apps are the only real option for tracking since there's no schedule and frequency is poor.  An animated map of cars on the route at each stop would be nice, but it doesn't do you much good if you're a minute late and missed the last one. 

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The old Cincy EZ Ride app was actually really simple to use and easier than using the TVMs. Putting everything into the Transit app is a good idea in theory, but it makes the experience of buying a ticket much more complicated for first-time riders.

 

The first time I tried to use the Transit app to buy a ticket, I selected the streetcar in the transit app and hit "Buy Ticket", and it showed me a screen to buy a BCRTA ticket. I didn't have time to figure it out, so I just abandoned the app and bought a ticket on the TVM. The next time I used the app, I realized you could tap on BCRTA and change to a different transit system. It gives you a list of every agency that the app supports, even ones that are nowhere near your current location... I guess that's convenient if I want to buy a ticket for the Portage Area Regional Transportation Authority or Medina County Public Transit from Cincinnati, but maybe it should hide transit systems that are more than 100 miles from your current location? And maybe default to the nearest transit agency rather than defaulting to BCRTA because it's alphabetically first?

 

Then, I had to re-enter all of my credit card information because it's the first time I bought a ticket in this app.

 

Then, I bought one of the "CBC 2-Hour 2 pack" tickets and I wanted to use both simultaneously, for me and someone else. Conveniently it gives you the option to activate one ticket now or save both for later. I activated one ticket. But then it took me a minute to figure out how to find the second ticket. It turns out that you need to go into your "wallet" to find the second ticket, which you can activate from there.

 

All in all, it's more complicated than the old app. I didn't have a strong opinion about making the streetcar free before, but I now think it absolutely needs to be free. The ticket buying process just causes so much unnecessary confusion for non tech savvy riders.

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37 minutes ago, jmecklenborg said:

 

Maybe it's time to grow up.  

I've gotten over $10,000 in free flights in the last 7 years from credit card points.  I'll never use cash outside of the few places that require it.  Paying with cash is literally throwing away free money.  

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15 minutes ago, Cincy513 said:

I've gotten over $10,000 in free flights in the last 7 years from credit card points.  I'll never use cash outside of the few places that require it.  Paying with cash is literally throwing away free money.  

 

$10,000 in points from $1 streetcar fares?

 

So much of the trouble could have been avoided with the simple fare machines that Portland has on each streetcar.  The explanation for how we ended up with super-complicated fare machines at the stations instead of simple machines on the streetcars themselves boggles the mind.  

 

Do our city buses have super-complicated fare machines at every stop?  No, you pay as you get on.  The only place where crowds commonly cue to step on a bus are at Government Square.  Streetcars are 2-3x the capacity of a typical city bus.  We have 2 fare machines at The Banks and I believe that's it.  If we were going to not have fare machines on the streetcars themselves we needed two at each station to accommodate crowds and times when one of them stops working.  

 

The cost of 30 more fare machines + 2 machines on each streetcar would have been a fraction of the overall cost of the project but it has crippled it from day 1.    

 

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, jmecklenborg said:

I listened to Rick Steeves 1-2 weeks ago on NPR complaining about young travelers using app-based navigation.  A traditional map gives you the overall lay of the land, argues Steeves. 

 

Depends on how you use the app-based map. It let's you carry one less thing when you're traveling and since you don't need a separate map for every city/country you're in, it saves you money from buying multiple maps. As long as you aren't simply looking down at your phone while you walk everywhere, a phone is a great way to get an idea of the direction you need to go. I just got back from Europe, and used my offline downloaded Google Maps like I would use a paper map - just without the hassle of another physical object to carry.

 

Getting back to the topic at hand, I like having the app to pay for tickets, but I personally prefer to buy from the TVM if I have the time in case my phone dies or something. I generally only use the app when I show up at the station and the streetcar will get there before I can complete a transaction at the TVM. I'm not going to miss the streetcar just because the TVM sucks. And you can use a credit card at the TVM, so you don't need cash.

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3 hours ago, jmecklenborg said:

So much of the trouble could have been avoided with the simple fare machines that Portland has on each streetcar.  The explanation for how we ended up with super-complicated fare machines at the stations instead of simple machines on the streetcars themselves boggles the mind.  

 

Cincinnati was originally going to have far machines on each streetcar like Portland. They eventually decided to have a machine at each station that would sell both streetcar and bus fare. As a result I believe Metro split the cost of the machines with the city. The streetcar station TVMs are exactly the same as the bus TVMs located at Government Square and various other places. In the event that the streetcar becomes free, the TVMs could be reprogrammed to only sell bus fare, or they could be relocated to other locations across the city.

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Has the experience with this streetcar increased or decreased our chance of ever having serious transit in the region? 
 

I just can’t see how this thing can be expanded upon. The political will has been decimated at the moment and it’s hard to imagine it coming back anytime soon. I hope I’m wrong. 

 

Also, I know it’s easy to blame Cranley for it all going poorly, but advocates should have had their ducks in a row before the thing was built. We should have known to improve traffic lights, make it free, etc. Kansas City seemed aware of this and made it happen. A lot of the messaging from key advocates was that it’ll work just bc it’s a streetcar and it will attract investment. While it did attract investment, that is less important to how people engage with the thing on a daily basis and ridership has suffered. We may have gotten some increased development outcomes, but we’ve got a political downer that has soured our chances of legit rail service anywhere else. 
 

Any other thoughts on this? 

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1 hour ago, atlas said:

Has the experience with this streetcar increased or decreased our chance of ever having serious transit in the region? 
 

 

If Qualls had won in 2013 the city would be vastly different.  Not only would the streetcar be running smoothly, it would have been expanded at little to no cost to the city with TIGER grants.  Cranley has harassed the streetcar non-stop since 2007.  He purposefully blew our final TIGER grant applications on political favors that had no chance of winning the grants, i.e. the Elmore St. Viaduct. 

 

The reporters at The Enquirer have changed but somehow everyone there has been fooled by the obstructionist tactics of COAST, Cranley, and Smitherman.  All of the same anti-streetcar talk show hosts are on 550 and 700, except Doc Thompson, who ironically was killed by an Amtrak train.   

 

 

 

Edited by jmecklenborg

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1 hour ago, atlas said:

Has the experience with this streetcar increased or decreased our chance of ever having serious transit in the region? 
 

I just can’t see how this thing can be expanded upon. The political will has been decimated at the moment and it’s hard to imagine it coming back anytime soon. I hope I’m wrong. 

 

Also, I know it’s easy to blame Cranley for it all going poorly, but advocates should have had their ducks in a row before the thing was built. We should have known to improve traffic lights, make it free, etc. Kansas City seemed aware of this and made it happen. A lot of the messaging from key advocates was that it’ll work just bc it’s a streetcar and it will attract investment. While it did attract investment, that is less important to how people engage with the thing on a daily basis and ridership has suffered. We may have gotten some increased development outcomes, but we’ve got a political downer that has soured our chances of legit rail service anywhere else. 
 

Any other thoughts on this? 

 

I'm almost positive that signal prioritization was a part of the plan to be rolled out at the time the streetcar began running. Somewhere along the line (no pun intended) that got dropped. I wouldn't be surprised at all if it got dropped when Cranley went into office or during the "pause".

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I'm pretty sure there's a couple of priority/preemption signals that are already in place but disabled or the drivers aren't allowed to use them.  

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They just need to get rid of the fares and make it free. It should have been free from the beginning. The city has done such a bad job with the streetcar it’s set back public transit in the city/county at least a decade. Aka mission accomplished from Cranley. 

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If it is Sittenfeld vs Smitherman, I think Smitherman wins and we get 8 more years of obstructionist crap.  Despite that though, I do think we will get fare free and some signal prioritization in these next few years.  There seems to be support across the board for that.  If Sittenfeld wins, I don't think we get the streetcar expanded either, but maybe a few more QoL improvements to it.

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13 hours ago, atlas said:

Has the experience with this streetcar increased or decreased our chance of ever having serious transit in the region? 

 

In Cincinnati, at least for the short term, it has decreased it.

 

I always expected that once the streetcar opened, many of the institutions that had been opposed to it or apathetic towards it would get over themselves and embrace it. Unfortunately, due to the various problems that have resulted from an anti-streetcar administration running the streetcar, this hasn't really happened. Cincinnati Bell was the only major corporation willing to stick their neck out and support it, and I'm sure they regret that decision. Remember when they assembled a task force to solve some of the ongoing problems, and they made a ton of recommendations to the city, and then the city did nothing with them? Yeah, I don't think they will be renewing their sponsorship deal after it expires.

 

Instead, we just are moving forward with this "streetcar divorce" which has been a total disaster so far, all so that we could pass a bus-only transit tax that explicitly prohibits any money from being spent on rail.

 

If we get a mayor who isn't hostile towards the project, the problems can be fixed very quickly. All you have to do is scroll back through the last few pages of this thread and you will see a dozen common sense ideas that don't cost anything that would result in the streetcar being faster and more reliable.

 

13 hours ago, atlas said:

Also, I know it’s easy to blame Cranley for it all going poorly, but advocates should have had their ducks in a row before the thing was built. We should have known to improve traffic lights, make it free, etc. Kansas City seemed aware of this and made it happen.

 

I don't know what else advocates could do. All five streetcars and many of the traffic lights have the signal priority equipment built in, but it's not turned on because the administration doesn't want it to be turned on. Making it free wasn't something that many supporters were asking for during the planning process, because a $1 fare didn't seem like a problem. One of the reasons Kansas City was free from the beginning is that it lowered their capital costs, since they didn't have to buy TVMs in the first place. I have only been to KC once, but it seems that the two cities have completely different attitudes towards public transportation, making any comparison very apples-to-oranges. Kansas City just voted to make their entire public transportation system free. Can you imagine how much of a meltdown there would be in Cincinnati if Metro proposed the same?

 

44 minutes ago, 10albersa said:

If it is Sittenfeld vs Smitherman, I think Smitherman wins and we get 8 more years of obstructionist crap.

 

It Sittenfeld wins, I suspect that he will be very rational. Maybe the traffic study that has been "in progress" for what, 4 years now, will be completed and implemented, speeding up each streetcar trip by a few minutes, which will have a major positive impact. I don't expect expansion to be discussed in the early to mid 2020s.

 

If Smitherman wins, it will be nothing but games, messing with the streetcar at any opportunity. Completely shutting it down during large events like Taste, shutting the entire system down for "safety" if one of the streetcars gets hit by a car, etc. I can't even imagine what types of bat$#!+ nonsense he would pull.

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16 hours ago, jmecklenborg said:

 

 

 

So much of the trouble could have been avoided with the simple fare machines that Portland has on each streetcar.  The explanation for how we ended up with super-complicated fare machines at the stations instead of simple machines on the streetcars themselves boggles the mind.  

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

Metro already had the type of TVMs that we ended up using for the streetcar installed at Government Square (and maybe Uptown, can't remember the exact timing, maybe they were on order for Uptown), so we picked the same TVMs so streetcar machines could also sell bus fares. 

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It's been three years (January 2017) since City Council ordered the Downtown Traffic Study. Have any changes been implemented?

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15 minutes ago, thomasbw said:

It's been three years (January 2017) since City Council ordered the Downtown Traffic Study. Have any changes been implemented?

Didn't the traffic study also only give extremely vague suggestions?

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A few of the minor changes that came out of the traffic study have been implemented, like the reconfiguration of the 12th & Main intersection, the addition of a left turn lane at Race and Liberty. I believe the rideshare zones that were implemented in 2019 were also a result of the traffic study. However, the most important parts like retiming the traffic signals and adding transit priority at key intersections have not been implemented at all.

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1 hour ago, thomasbw said:

Metro already had the type of TVMs that we ended up using for the streetcar installed at Government Square (and maybe Uptown, can't remember the exact timing, maybe they were on order for Uptown), so we picked the same TVMs so streetcar machines could also sell bus fares. 

 

Why was it either/or?  Why not both?  We're only talking 10 more machines if two were installed on each streetcar.  $15,000 per machine x 10 = $150,000, or .01% the cost of the project.  

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You don't install ticket vending machines on the streetcar.  You install ticket validation machines on the streetcar, which are about the size of a paper towel dispenser, and all they do is put a timestamp on the ticket when you insert it.  You still buy the ticket(s) from a vending machine, or a store, or wherever, but you validate it when you get on the vehicle. 

 

You can't do fare collection in the streetcar like you do on a bus, because the driver is isolated behind a closed door.  Besides, the point of the streetcar with its multiple doors is for fast boarding and deboarding, and not holding up the driver collecting fares. 

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4 minutes ago, jjakucyk said:

You don't install ticket vending machines on the streetcar.  You install ticket validation machines on the streetcar, which are about the size of a paper towel dispenser, and all they do is put a timestamp on the ticket when you insert it.  You still buy the ticket(s) from a vending machine, or a store, or wherever, but you validate it when you get on the vehicle. 

 

You can't do fare collection in the streetcar like you do on a bus, because the driver is isolated behind a closed door.  Besides, the point of the streetcar with its multiple doors is for fast boarding and deboarding, and not holding up the driver collecting fares. 

 

there are plenty of systems with fare payment on streetcars, though.

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17 minutes ago, ryanlammi said:

 

there are plenty of systems with fare payment on streetcars, though.

 

Detroit's Q-Line has credit card machines at stops but cash machines on the streetcar. Luckily they have staff in the streetcar to inform passengers (at least when I was riding) but its still a confusing system. It increased confusion but also reduced the number of people who had to get off or could not get on because they couldn't pay.

 

image.thumb.png.c854c371204cc67ad367fba8b32ec785.png

 


“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.”
-Friedrich Nietzsche

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41 minutes ago, jjakucyk said:

You don't install ticket vending machines on the streetcar.  You install ticket validation machines on the streetcar, which are about the size of a paper towel dispenser, and all they do is put a timestamp on the ticket when you insert it.  You still buy the ticket(s) from a vending machine, or a store, or wherever, but you validate it when you get on the vehicle. 

 

This is the ticket vending machine that is used by the Portland, Seattle, and Tacoma streetcars. You purchase the ticket on the streetcar itself, and there are no TVMs at any of the stations. It seems to work fine in those cities.

 

3845029637_52d34e523f_k.jpg

 

The only downside I can think of is that it probably reduces fare compliance a little bit, because you can board the streetcar, see if there's a fare enforcement officer on board, and the decide whether or not to buy a ticket.

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This new video illustrates streetcar/light rail design in a city that actually wants it to work.  Aside from street design, they show cashless payment methods. 

 

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Streetcar's fault...

2390_001.jpg


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

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On 1/10/2020 at 10:39 AM, taestell said:

It Sittenfeld wins, I suspect that he will be very rational. Maybe the traffic study that has been "in progress" for what, 4 years now, will be completed and implemented, speeding up each streetcar trip by a few minutes, which will have a major positive impact. I don't expect expansion to be discussed in the early to mid 2020s.

 

I'll make a bold prediction right now. Sittenfeld will win and we will have Phase II, up the hill to Vine and WH Taft, under construction by the end of his second term.

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9 minutes ago, DEPACincy said:

 

I'll make a bold prediction right now. Sittenfeld will win and we will have Phase II, up the hill to Vine and WH Taft, under construction by the end of his second term.

Gotta fix Phase 1 first

 

Fortunately, we could fix it in three months if City Council actually, you know, decided it wanted to have a successful streetcar system and adopted other city's best practices. 

 

 

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41 minutes ago, DEPACincy said:

 

I'll make a bold prediction right now. Sittenfeld will win and we will have Phase II, up the hill to Vine and WH Taft, under construction by the end of his second term.

Sittenfeld will likely win. I dont think we will see construction up Vine to Taft though.

 

Sittenfeld will face a challenge from the left and he will run to the center like Cranley in the race. 

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Maybe the tides will turn even more and we can construct up a tunnel past Christ Hospital on Main Street like John Schneider has mentioned many times.

 

The Uptown area is booming so quickly now too, would be a boon to tie together that whole area. I agree with what everyone else said, could get this first phase fixed probably with a couple hours of work from the administration in making orders/directives, then just sign up the contractors and be all fixed within a few months.

 

Anyone who sees the way it is currently run as anything other than a deliberate attempt to make it look bad has their head in the sand. I don't think we will get KC type numbers here but I bet we can double up our current numbers quickly.

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