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Then what should it be John? 

 

Needs to run north of 12th on Walnut and Main to the face of Mt. Auburn and then through a series of tunnels, daylighting behind Christ Hospital and ending up on Auburn Avenue to Corry to Jefferson. Way more money, but way better performance.

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If the water main is truly an issue for Vine St, wouldn't the most logical secondary option be W. Clifton? That route would cut through the very dense CUF neighborhood, which I think could generate a lot of ridership, particularly with UC students. It seems W. Clifton also would make for relatively easy spurs north to Ludlow and east to Walnut Hills. Wouldn't CUF and UC be a better hilltop destination than Mt. Auburn? I think whatever route that goes to Uptown has to eventually hit the medical complex, but in terms of getting up the hill, I don't think W. Clifton is a bad option at all.

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I like the idea of a long distance, grade separated light rail line.

 

But, I don’t see the political will for it. Not on the state and federal levels. In fact, getting into conspiracy theory territory here, but I see the state government as eager to strangle urban growth in Ohio in order to prevent it from becoming a bluer state, with a lock on power until the next census redistricting comes along. 

 

That being said, does anyone at all see merit in my idea for the extension to Corry Street as planned, with a tie in to a high frequency circulator bus system? Financially, you save money by going with the existing rail plan.  Politically, you could line up a lot of inner neighborhoods behind the idea, since it serves multiple neighborhoods instead of just one destination. You can take away some critics' ammo since it involves buses.  And, you wouldn't have to convince outer neighborhoods why they should want transit in the first place.  Transportation wise, you could convert some existing bus routes into expresses or rapids, with connection points to the circulator system, improving existing service.  (For example, routes could connect to the circulator system at the transit hub planned for Northside, and continue downtown as an express instead of traversing Uptown.) But I would leave that part to the experts.

 

(ICYMI: The Uptown Four circulator lines details are here http://goo.gl/awheu8  They could have off-board fare payment like the streetcar, with the same fare structure as the streetcar ($1 for 2 hours,) and free transfer between them (including the streetcar line.)  The frequency would be high- 10 minutes or less between vehicles- and service hours per day would be long.)

 

I don't think it's incompatible with the  idea of a full light rail line and Mt. Auburn tunnel, I just think that that idea may be further in the future while this could improve transit in the near future.

 

I'm not saying my idea is perfect and couldn’t be improved upon, route-wise or other wise.  But it seems the rail people don't care for this idea and the bus people, a small and soft spoken group to be sure, don’t want to reveal their future plans for expanding service. From one end of the general public online comment spectrum I've heard "If it's not rail, it doesn't spark development at all" and from the other I've heard "boondoggle!"  But I'd like to know why such an idea would be unfeasible or inadequate from a transit system perspective. If the streetcar as a downtown circulator has value, wouldn’t there be value in these neighborhood circulators as well? Wouldn’t it be a huge bonus if they all connected at a single point?

 


www.cincinnatiideas.com

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If the water main is truly an issue for Vine St, wouldn't the most logical secondary option be W. Clifton? That route would cut through the very dense CUF neighborhood, which I think could generate a lot of ridership, particularly with UC students. It seems W. Clifton also would make for relatively easy spurs north to Ludlow and east to Walnut Hills. Wouldn't CUF and UC be a better hilltop destination than Mt. Auburn? I think whatever route that goes to Uptown has to eventually hit the medical complex, but in terms of getting up the hill, I don't think W. Clifton is a bad option at all.

 

I think in a previous study W Clifton scored highly but was hurt by steep grade and higher cost than Vine...  But I agree with your sentiments.  http://www.cincinnati-oh.gov/streetcar/linkservid/252AD3BF-5298-4C97-A76EC7131F1A35AF/showMeta/0/

 

 


www.cincinnatiideas.com

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I think large tunnels are a pipe dream. I can't see the political climate in Cincinnati ever getting behind the extra cost. I'm supportive of Vine. The old Rothenberg School site at Vine and Mulberry has huge potential for development. And traffic on Vine is almost never an issue. Tunneling under the hill is not important if traffic doesn't back up. I would rather spend money on a tunnel underneath Taft/McMillan to avoid that series of lights that could slow down a ride.

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Vice Mayor Mann: End streetcar secrecy

 

As Cincinnati City Council prepares to help pick the company that will operate the streetcar, Vice Mayor David Mann is demanding transparency – which he says is lacking from the regional transit authority.

 

The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority, in charge of overseeing streetcar operations, is in the process of receiving proposals from private firms interested in running the system daily.

 

SORTA will score applicants on four criteria: price, quality of the applicant, staffing and technical quality. But instead of presenting all the information to City Council – which is tasked with signing off on the company chosen – SORTA plans only to present the two highest-scoring applicants and their cost proposals, Mann said.

 

Cont


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

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Then what should it be John? 

 

Needs to run north of 12th on Walnut and Main to the face of Mt. Auburn and then through a series of tunnels, daylighting behind Christ Hospital and ending up on Auburn Avenue to Corry to Jefferson. Way more money, but way better performance.

 

I could see a light rail tunnel being built eventually, but I think the best bet for now is to expand the streetcar system. The streetcar system should focus on circulating people around urban neighborhoods and encouraging new development in those neighborhoods. The light rail system can focus on being as fast as possible and bringing people from other neighborhoods into the core. I think we should build our system with this dual network in mind, rather than trying to build one single network that attempts to serve both purposes simultaneously. Therefore, I would prefer we build the streetcar extension up Vine Street as planned. Eventually we can build the Mt. Auburn tunnel for light rail and hook into the existing Main/Walnut tracks downtown. Or, we might decide that a better option for light rail is a east-west line in the subway tunnel, continuing along I-75 or I-74 on the west side, and up Reading Road to the east.

 

Unless John knows something I don't. With Cranley as mayor potentially until 2021, OKI leadership pushing for highway expansion and attempting to squash any additional transit investment, Uptown Consortium only caring about the MLK corridor and new I-71 interchange, zero chance of Ohio giving any significant amount of money to transit, SORTA and city staff trying to get their work done without ruffling any feathers, and NKY leaders silent on the topic... I don't know where a light rail plan could even come from.

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Then what should it be John? 

 

Needs to run north of 12th on Walnut and Main to the face of Mt. Auburn and then through a series of tunnels, daylighting behind Christ Hospital and ending up on Auburn Avenue to Corry to Jefferson. Way more money, but way better performance.

 

Zero Zero Zero chance this would ever happen.  Negative chance, if that were a thing. 

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I think people are overlooking that as soon as the streetcar begins operating there will be people wanting it to be extended to their neighborhoods.  You will not see people who were on the fence say it's a bad idea.  The only directions minds will change is from skeptical or indifferent to favorable.  This will reduce the sentiment that the streetcar project, and any possible expansion, are somehow going to bankrupt the city. 

 

There is risk associated with tunnel proposals since costs can escalate rapidly.  Opponents will line up examples of drastic cost escalations and TBM mishaps such as the one still unfolding in Seattle (never mind that that is a highway tunnel, and that three light rail TBM's just dug a 3-mile tunnel without incident).  In Baltimore the red line light rail's price increased (exploded?!) because they are going to double-track a suburban tunnel rather than do a single-track section.  Also the downtown section of that line will now be dug 25 feet deeper than originally planned and budgeted for. 

 

But these opponents will ignore the many recent light rail tunnels that have come in on-time and on-budget like Minneapolis, LA, Portland, St. Louis, Seattle, Pittsburgh, etc. 

 

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^I think that's what's going to be the best aspect of the first phase finishing. Nearby neighborhoods all clamoring for extensions. "We're just a couple stops away!" is going to be said by so many places and they'll push for expansions in all directions hopefully.

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I am not quite so optimistic. There is this huge physical disconnect between the basin and the rest of town, especially uptown, which should be as closely woven to downtown as possible. To me this is all set up to be a showdown. If you want rail with useful stop locations, a tunnel is the only way to go.

 

In fact, I'd go so far as to say that all of this is really about, has always been about, the tunnel.

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I am not quite so optimistic. There is this huge physical disconnect between the basin and the rest of town, especially uptown, which should be as closely woven to downtown as possible. To me this is all set up to be a showdown. If you want rail with useful stop locations, a tunnel is the only way to go.

 

In fact, I'd go so far as to say that all of this is really about, has always been about, the tunnel.

 

The first postwar line a city builds should not have many compromises, especially if that line will be the "trunk" of a larger system.  If we had been able to cash in the state grant we were awarded in 2010 to build the Vine St. line for "free", well then it made sense, even though that routing would have diminished the performance of a larger system. 

 

But people forget that the system we are building right now was the design that was arrived at when it was thought that the streetcar would be a completely city-funded project within the basin.  The "Phase 1b" was an adjunct to the system that had already been designed and mostly funded.  If "Phase 1" had included a link to uptown, it's unlikely that the "Phase 1a" routing that is currently being constructed would have been arrived at.

 

 

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What is a realistic scenario, in terms of time frame and financing, that the tunnel option could be constructed given that there is no help coming from OKI/state of Ohio?

 

The question is actually how much more does this cost to build and operate than Phase 1b up the Vine St. hill. The circa-2010 estimate of $50 million included two streetcars.  If a tunnel route also terminating at Corry St. costs $150 million, then it costs 3X.  If it costs $250 million then it's 5X.  But if we take either of those figures and consider them in the context of a much larger system, that difference becomes a less significant percentage. 

 

Also, the time advantage that a tunnel promises means each branch feeding into it might maintain the same level of service with one fewer streetcar.  Assuming three branches, then the savings include not just a somewhat smaller fleet, but much, much lower labor costs. 2-3 fewer full-time drivers per branch (each streetcar requires 120~ hours of operation per week) plus wear and maintenance on fewer vehicles. 

 

The critics never complain about the on-time and on-budget tunnel projects like the Minneapolis airport tunnel, which is significantly longer than one we would build here, but built in more predictable soil conditions so much less expensive per foot:

http://www.hatchmott.com/projects/minnesota-lrt-tunnel-and-airport-station

 

 

 

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How long would our tunnels be? It looks like the Minneappolis ones were about a mile and a half.

 

 

The tunnel that was briefly studied by Parsons-Brinkerhoff in the late 1990s was going to be about 5,500 feet long and connect Main St. at E. Clifton with Corry St. at Jefferson Ave. (would have surfaced in the strip of grass between Jefferson Ave. and UC's sports bubble).  There was a subway station planned deep beneath Auburn Ave. at Christ Hospital.  A shorter tunnel of about 4,000 feet on that same alignment could connect that same OTR portal and surface on Auburn Ave. a few blocks north of Christ Hospital, but the tunnel would be steeply graded and a surface station for the hospital would be far enough from it to discourage some ridership. 

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So then what's the road map forward toward a larger system given an unwilling mayor, county commission, OKI, state, and Metro who is 'bus only' at this point? Or do we just hang tight with the starter line until some point in the future when the political landscape changes. I see the benefits of the tunnel plan, I'm just looking for someone to put forth an actionable plan to get it off the drawing board.

 

Also the $52 million price tag included the Fountain Sq-Banks leg at the time so Uptown wasn't the entire cost.

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I just got back from Bangkok and I know it is a much larger city, but they just finished 10 years ago and have added amenities a SkyTrain system "Elevated Rail".  They didn't get ridership numbers at first that they were looking for, but they added ramps direct into malls and hotels.  Ridership is 600k per day on the line currently and many stops you have to wait for the next train because they are so full.

 

I think the point is that people don't take it from one end to the other.  We never once did that.  Most of the rides are maybe 1-2 stops away, intermediate ones.  I think once the uptown route gets finalized, a lot of the trips won't be from one end to the other.  Rather more like, OTR housing to Uptown or OTR to downtown.  It is part of a larger, continuous system.

 

I have some good pictures I will try to post as well that shows the booming condo and hotel towers that line up directly along the SkyTrain.  From my hotel alone, I could see at least 6 new towers going up within a mile directly on the SkyTrain line. 

 

The other interesting part was that our tailor was saying how he has lived further out in the city for a long time, and when they announced expansion with a stop half a mile from his house, his housing value sky rocketed and developers bought up huge parcels of housing a long the line in his area for presumably more sky scrapers.  Transit is true around the world, if you build the infrastructure the market will react in a big way.  I think Mayor Cranley and all the other opponents from politicians to administration to citizens know this for the most part, but they will continually hang onto the fact "It runs a deficit" to still be against it. 

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So then what's the road map forward toward a larger system given an unwilling mayor, county commission, OKI, state, and Metro who is 'bus only' at this point? Or do we just hang tight with the starter line until some point in the future when the political landscape changes. I see the benefits of the tunnel plan, I'm just looking for someone to put forth an actionable plan to get it off the drawing board.

 

Also the $52 million price tag included the Fountain Sq-Banks leg at the time so Uptown wasn't the entire cost.

 

I think we don't do anything unless a grant appears and/or the political winds change.  Also I forgot about the 2nd-5th St. stretch.  You are correct because there was an episode in 2011-2012 where council had to find the money to replace that lost section. 

 

 

 

I think the point is that people don't take it from one end to the other.  We never once did that.  Most of the rides are maybe 1-2 stops away, intermediate ones.

 

Yeah if you drive a cab or for Uber you will be shocked by how many people take incredibly short rides. People regularly take cabs from Fountain Square or even the new Renaissance Hotel to The Banks.  Residents at the Garfield Place apartments regularly take an Uber car to 12th & Vine.  These are rides when the sun is still out and often by able-bodied 25 year-old men, not just women in heals and fur coats. 

 

 

 

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I think the point is that people don't take it from one end to the other.  We never once did that.  Most of the rides are maybe 1-2 stops away, intermediate ones.

 

Yeah if you drive a cab or for Uber you will be shocked by how many people take incredibly short rides. People regularly take cabs from Fountain Square or even the new Renaissance Hotel to The Banks.  Residents at the Garfield Place apartments regularly take an Uber car to 12th & Vine.  These are rides when the sun is still out and often by able-bodied 25 year-old men, not just women in heals and fur coats.

 

One of my coworkers is a marathon runner and the type of guy who spends several nights a week at the gym, but refuses to walk to one of our frequent lunch spots that's 0.2 miles (a 5 minute walk) away from the office.

 

I bet the following very short trips will be some of the most common trips on the streetcar:

 

* Fountain Square to The Banks

* The Banks to Fountain Square

* 12th & Main to 12th & Vine

* 12th & Vine to Washington Park

* Findlay Market to Rhinegeist

 

 

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So then what's the road map forward toward a larger system given an unwilling mayor, county commission, OKI, state, and Metro who is 'bus only' at this point? Or do we just hang tight with the starter line until some point in the future when the political landscape changes. I see the benefits of the tunnel plan, I'm just looking for someone to put forth an actionable plan to get it off the drawing board.

 

Also the $52 million price tag included the Fountain Sq-Banks leg at the time so Uptown wasn't the entire cost.

 

This is a Metro system wide issue at this point. It's ridiculous to be considering the streetcar in a vacuum. Metro  should have an idea of what's valuable and what's not based on how it fits into the entire system.

 

Everyone interested in proposing uptown routes needs to read the book Human Transit by Jarrett Walker. Please don't stay away from it because you've heard the author is anti streetcar. He's not. He just realistically considers how they fit into the city wide transit network.

 

Improving our entire system is going to include all the non sexy things are huge changes nonetheless like improved bus stops, increased bus frequencies, transit centers outside of downtown, real time arrival data for your cell phone.

 

I still think my basic idea behind the Uptown Four ( http://goo.gl/awheu8 ) of going up Vine street and connecting to bus routes is a good, practical idea. At this point I think the biggest drawback to it is that many of the enhancements I envision for the Uptown Four bus lines should be extended to the whole bus system.

 

I think we can have light rail but we need to make Cincinnatians fall in love with transit first to support the huge investment over the decades it would take to build the system.

 

I'm out here in Portland right now and love it. Portland has a great streetcar but they are clearly taking an "all of the above" approach to transit.

 


www.cincinnatiideas.com

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I believe Portland had a light rail system before they started their streetcar system. 

 

I think most people agree that there needs to be a combination of streetcar, light rail, and busses to have a truly effective regional transit system.  I think a good model to follow would be San Francisco.  They have one heavy rail spine through the city, with branches out to various suburbs around the Bay, but the majority of intra-city travel is done by Muni which uses a combination of busses and streetcars to provide the 'micro' transit service.  We could even copy their cable car network for scaling some of the largest and steepest hills around, or just bring back the incline system.  I think Price Hill and Mt. Adams would benefit the most from bringing the inclines back. 

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I believe Portland had a light rail system before they started their streetcar system. 

 

I think most people agree that there needs to be a combination of streetcar, light rail, and busses to have a truly effective regional transit system.  I think a good model to follow would be San Francisco.  They have one heavy rail spine through the city, with branches out to various suburbs around the Bay, but the majority of intra-city travel is done by Muni which uses a combination of busses and streetcars to provide the 'micro' transit service.  We could even copy their cable car network for scaling some of the largest and steepest hills around, or just bring back the incline system.  I think Price Hill and Mt. Adams would benefit the most from bringing the inclines back. 

 

I'd say San Francisco with some modification as San Fran has some issues.  One of San Fran's biggest problems is speed of the transit it has - trains frequently get delayed and backed up as well as busses.  BART needs a line along Geary Avenue - the buses there are so packed that it needs something better and Geary is really one of the main backbones of the city.

 

Finally if you think having SORTA and Tank is bad for regional transit, the Bay area has like 20 different agencies, all with different fare rates to get from one end of the bay to the other you could spend like $20 in transfers and what not.

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The BART trains are frequently delayed because the four East Bay branches join together under Downtown Oakland and share tracks in the Transbay Tube and under San Francisco's financial district.  If one branch experiences a delay, then the inbound trains from the other branches have to wait.  There is some speculation that a second transbay tube will be built one day between Oakland and San Francisco, but BART's current priority is to extend south to San Jose and eventually create a full 100-mile loop around the bay. 

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Finally if you think having SORTA and Tank is bad for regional transit, the Bay area has like 20 different agencies, all with different fare rates to get from one end of the bay to the other you could spend like $20 in transfers and what not.

 

Even Northeast Ohio is tough enough. These are just the inter-county transit routes....

 

16280101929_0b27c4706f_b.jpg


"Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities."-Voltaire

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Anyone know why it costs  $4 million a year to operate 3.6 miles of streetcar? If it doubles or triples in length is it $8 or $12 million a year?  A million a mile to operate it?

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The BART trains are frequently delayed because the four East Bay branches join together under Downtown Oakland and share tracks in the Transbay Tube and under San Francisco's financial district.  If one branch experiences a delay, then the inbound trains from the other branches have to wait.  There is some speculation that a second transbay tube will be built one day between Oakland and San Francisco, but BART's current priority is to extend south to San Jose and eventually create a full 100-mile loop around the bay. 

 

Same problem happens on muni because like 4 lines converge into one tunnel under mission street.  At the very least locals get to use BART in the city with their muni pass.

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Anyone know why it costs  $4 million a year to operate 3.6 miles of streetcar? If it doubles or triples in length is it $8 or $12 million a year?  A million a mile to operate it?

 

Not quite. It'll increase obviously, but some of the cost of operation will decrease on a "per mile of track" basis due to economies of scale. Train maintenance, track maintenance, line maintenance, heating and cooling the MOF, paying for a manager, etc. will all have a smaller and smaller increase with added lines.

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Yes, since it is the starter line the costs will be higher on the margin.  The larger the system the less on the margin it will cost if headways stay the same.  Kind of like shipping product.  The heavier the product and more pallets it is on, the less it costs on the margin to ship because fixed costs become less of the total costs.

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Not sure if you would get in trouble! But. I would wait until the tracks are done and they clear the pebbles that have collected in the rails over the months. Otherwise...  :wave: :-o

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I would so do that.  Only thing is that Bratislava uses narrow gauge (1 meter) tracks, so do do something like that here you'd need a much wider palette. 

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With streetcar work now in the heart of the CBD, I'm a little concerned with the placement of the 5th & Walnut stop as seen under construction in the photo below. This busy stretch of sidewalk looks to become extremely narrow...


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

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It looks like a similar situation as the Findlay Market stop on Race Street. There isn't enough room for a bump-out stop, so instead the entire sidewalk is being raised. Not ideal, but it will be fine.

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Yeah except that's the last stop before the end of the line.

 

I think this will be a busy stop with people transferring from Government Square to get to The Banks.

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Yeah it won't be a big deal IMO.  It will get busy sure, but that is normal for thriving cities.  Just think when the population doubles in OTR and Downtown to 25-30k.  It will be a lot busier then.

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