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Cincinnati Streetcar / Cincinnati Bell Connector News

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Seattle already has a tunnel under their downtown for light rail that runs from the airport/south side to downtown, and will soon be expanded north to the university district. The main point of the Seattle streetcar is to connect areas that will likely not be served by light rail. (Similar to how the subway and streetcars compliment eachother in Toronto.) Seattle's Phase 1 was also built primarily as an economic development for the South Lake Union neighborhood.

 

In Cincinnati, where we do not have an existing light rail network, we made the right choice by starting with a downtown circulator. How would it make any sense to have high-capacity streetcars bringing people from UC or the West End to the edge of downtown, then dumping them off and making them rely on low-capacity buses to get around in the urban core?

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I remember some of the discussions at the time the vehicles were selected. My recollection is that climbing the hill to Uptown with a full load would be very difficult to achieve with any battery-powered car then in existence or under development.

 

On Seattle's latest streetcar phrase, they only have an overhead wire going up the hill. On the way down, it uses battery power.

 

However, I think the main reason they invested in wireless technology is so that when they build the downtown portion of their route, they don't have to put up wires. (Remember that Seattle's first two phases extend from opposite edges of downtown out into neighborhoods. Their third phase will actually go through downtown and connect the first two phases to eachother.)

 

I think if we expand the streetcar system within the basin, wireless extensions could be studied.  For example, if Race/Elm were extended south to The Banks or Main/Walnut were extended north to Liberty, then up McMicken toward Brighton, new streetcars could charge on the parts of the line that currently have wires, then run wirelessly on new sections.  I also think wireless operation should be considered in areas with complicated trackwork, such as the junction at Race & 12th. 

 

 

 

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^ I think that's probably the future of these systems.  Wires on simple straightaways, at layover points, and uphills, but wireless at junctions or complicated turns, visually sensitive areas, and downhills.  Has there been any further development on the wireless magnetic induction system that was developed by Bombardier?

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The CAF Urbos cars in Zaragoza (video above) have superchargers at each of the stations. So every time the streetcar stops to let passengers board/exit, it gets an extra boost of power from below to top off its batteries. Again, these are the same model of streetcar we are buying for Cincinnati, so it is possible that we could add this feature to a future order.

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Here are some google screenshots of the new streetcar line in Seattle...obviously this is built on a street that crosses streets with electric trolleybuses.  It's easy to see why wireless operation is so advantageous in cities that still have the old trolleybus wires.

seattlestreetcar_zpsj2zpe5oy.jpg

 

seattlestreetcar3_zpspf33rkom.jpg

 

seattlestreetcar2_zpslr1sadxv.jpg

 

 

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Yeah, I forgot to mention Seattle's trolleybuses. It must've been an engineering nightmare to design the wiring where the two-wire trolleybus route and one-wire streetcar route cross. I can definitely understand wanting to use battery powered streetcars in that situation to reduce the complexity. Unfortunately it looks like Seattle did very little utility burial along the route, and even has cobrahead lighting, adding to the messy appearance. Fortunately in Cincinnati, utilities were already buried along most of the route except for the northernmost blocks.

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Will some of the Democrats on Council back away from their preferred (more expensive) option? Will Cranley still push for it, so that he can use the high price tag to cut streetcar service?

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Will some of the Democrats on Council back away from their preferred (more expensive) option?

 

No.

 

Will Cranley still push for it, so that he can use the high price tag to cut streetcar service?

 

Yes.

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I hope the democrats on council choose the cheaper option. This would still satisfy atu because the non-sorta workers will still become part of the union right? This would also show them as willing to compromise to save the city money, while cranley will look like an idiot touting the most expensive option.

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The city budget to $800,000 is an average salary to $40. Dull yet opinionated and entitled Americans fret over absolute numbers with weak grasp of scale or context. That said, pushing through the union contract is a political loser. I once again agree with Amy Murray.

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Crazy that people complain about $800,000 and Council votes 9-0 for that stupid Cincy State bridge.

 

How important is Cincinnati State to the city?  Important enough to build that stupid bridge to keep them in the city?  I have no idea of number of enrollment or employees, or the financial impact.  Anyone know?

 

They could always move out to one of the townships like many hospitals have done.

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The city budget to $800,000 is an average salary to $40. Dull yet opinionated and entitled Americans fret over absolute numbers with weak grasp of scale or context.

 

I've said for years that numbers are useless without other numbers to compare them to.

 

One thing I've learned in business is that numbers can make people more emotional than almost anything else.

 

 

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Forgo that bridge and build an extension of the Streetcar up Central to Cincinnati state then up to clifton. Kill two birds with one stone. ;) I can see new high rises along Central along I-75 if that happens.

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Forgo that bridge and build an extension of the Streetcar up Central to Cincinnati state then up to clifton. Kill two birds with one stone. ;) I can see new high rises along Central along I-75 if that happens.

 

or leverage the subway tunnel cost with that federal matching grant we could get and run the vehicles through the tunnel to cincy state. make waterworks move that damn pipe

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Forgo that bridge and build an extension of the Streetcar up Central to Cincinnati state then up to clifton. Kill two birds with one stone. ;) I can see new high rises along Central along I-75 if that happens.

 

or leverage the subway tunnel cost with that federal matching grant we could get and run the vehicles through the tunnel to cincy state. make waterworks move that damn pipe

 

Very curious to see what, if anything, could happen to relocation costs for those pipes if Cincy wins the case vs Duke.

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Forgo that bridge and build an extension of the Streetcar up Central to Cincinnati state then up to clifton. Kill two birds with one stone. ;) I can see new high rises along Central along I-75 if that happens.

 

^ That's a really good idea. Dunno about the high-rises, but Central Parkway is a diamond in the rough. Ludlow would be a challenge but terrific if you could make it work.

 

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Forgo that bridge and build an extension of the Streetcar up Central to Cincinnati state then up to clifton. Kill two birds with one stone. ;) I can see new high rises along Central along I-75 if that happens.

 

or leverage the subway tunnel cost with that federal matching grant we could get and run the vehicles through the tunnel to cincy state. make waterworks move that damn pipe

 

Scenarios exist where putting streetcars in the subway and extending the line up to Northside would cost the city relatively little, i.e. the total cost from the city's perspective might be in the neighborhood of what the city has committed to the current streetcar project, but for twice the route miles.  The maintenance facility obviously already exists in addition to the subway tunnel.  Also it will be very cheap to build the surface portion of the line from the subway portals to Cincinnati State since the old right-of-way is mostly intact and will require zero utility relocation. 

 

The hairy spot is getting to Northside, since rebuilding the Ludlow Viaduct deck to accommodate rail would be very expensive.  Cranley could kill two birds with one stone by putting rail on the proposed Elmore St. Viaduct, but don't look to Cranley to concede anything in the name of the public good.   

 

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I'd love to run the track in the tunnels, because subways are cool. But if rail did run on the surface of Central Parkway, you could move the bike lane over to the wide sidewalk area between Central Parkway and I-75, and dedicate transit only lanes on the Parkway for streetcar and buses.  At least for a portion of the route. (I'm assuming if you got the $ for light rail you have the $ to redo the sidewalk into a wide bike path.)

 

I am a huge bike lane supporter... just kicking around ideas is all.  I read somewhere where if you could put in all the complete street stuff that's possible onto one street it would become too wide for pedestrians. 


www.cincinnatiideas.com

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EXCLUSIVE: Cranley issues new streetcar veto threat, likely clearing way for operator decision

Chris Wetterich - Cincinnati Business Courier

 

The political fog over how much it will cost to operate the streetcar started to clear on Tuesday after Mayor John Cranley pledged to veto any ordinance that instructs the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority to hire a private company and its employees to operate the streetcar.

 

The so-called turnkey option, at a $4 million cost, is the only option sent by SORTA to the city that falls within the maximum $4.2 million, first-year streetcar budget approved by council.

 

But even with the mayor’s veto threat, it appears the turnkey option will be the one the streetcar operates under during its first year in operation starting in September 2016.

 

“That would be my prediction,” Cranley told the Business Courier when asked how he sees the endgame to a long political debate.

 

Cont


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

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^ According to the Business Courier article, operating the streetcar under the management plan within the $4.2 million budget would require a 30% reduction in service.  That is insane...

 

"Cranley's plan is to appropriate only $4.2 million to do the job. That means service has to be cut by at least a 30 percent, SORTA officials said, a scenario CEO Dwight Ferrell said will lead to a “death spiral” of the project."

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Council won't even end up making their own decision, SORTA will decide on the turn key approach for 4.0 million per year.  Cranley vetoes any non union operator, but vetoes spending more than 4.2 million.  Kind of strange.

 

Also, this will allow the streetcar to operate under budget and free from political harm.  Kind of crazy.  I saw the general fund revenue budget is expected to increase like $18 million for 2016 and another $12 million on top of that the next year, so $30 million in 2 years, but $700k for this makes people go nuts.  All in perspective, which most people can't comprehend or care to look at.

 

If you saw the Enquirer article on the budget changes the Dems are proposing, everyone's comment is something a long the lines of "These democrats will turn Cincinnati into Detroit".  But for some reason people fail to grasp that they aren't adding items into the budget, they are moving things around.  I guess I am lucky my mother taught me the Hooked on Phonics program...........

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See, here I thought reading the BC headline that Cranely was going to veto the more expensive option. But no, he's going to veto the cheaper option so he can force cutbacks to the service in hopes that it makes the project fail.

 

Can you be arrested for failing as mayor to perform in a fiduciary capacity?

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It sounds to me like the mayor or council aren't going to be able to force SORTA to choose one particular option. So SORTA will likely choose the cheaper option which allows us to keep the desired frequency. What's the problem?

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See, here I thought reading the BC headline that Cranely was going to veto the more expensive option. But no, he's going to veto the cheaper option so he can force cutbacks to the service in hopes that it makes the project fail.

 

Can you be arrested for failing as mayor to perform in a fiduciary capacity?

 

And how, why does the mayor have such a yearning to see this fail when he basically called a truce after he was defeated by council and agreed to make it a success?

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See, here I thought reading the BC headline that Cranely was going to veto the more expensive option. But no, he's going to veto the cheaper option so he can force cutbacks to the service in hopes that it makes the project fail.

 

Can you be arrested for failing as mayor to perform in a fiduciary capacity?

 

And how, why does the mayor have such a yearning to see this fail when he basically called a truce after he was defeated by council and agreed to make it a success?

 

He's a giant sack of ****.  I mean seriously there is no other good explination of it.  I can't believe ANYONE would defend this scumbag.

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Cranley's MO is triangulation.  He plays everyone against each other and he appears reasonable ie: he supports the union but also is a budget hawk.  What is so hilarious is that Smitherman and Winburn are so stubborn, they refuse to even vote on the issue!  So Council will be deadlocked and SORTA end up making the decision without Council direction.  Which actually is fine by me.

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It sounds to me like the mayor or council aren't going to be able to force SORTA to choose one particular option. So SORTA will likely choose the cheaper option which allows us to keep the desired frequency. What's the problem?

 

The problem is that we have to be nice to the Unions too.

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But the new employees (excluding management) will be unionized in either scenario. They just will be governmental employees under one option and privately employed in the other.

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Yea this is political grandstanding bullshit at its finest. Why can't elected officials look at a number and pick the smaller one considering the outcome is similar instead of wasting time? Who cares what ATU thinks is it really that big of a deal?

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^I believe, though I'm not certain, that the $700,000 difference is basically the amount that would be contributed to the state pension fund by the new employees under the management option.  More people paying into the pension fund is a good thing.  It's crazy that anyone is complaining about the $700,000 at all.  This is municipal budget peanuts, going to actual individual workers as deferred comp that will be spent and taxed as income as soon as they get it, consequently going back into the economy.  It's like a tax abatement for people instead of properties.

 

It's ridiculous that there is arbitrary $4.2 million ceiling on these expenses that is just accepted as gospel for some reason.

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Yea this is political grandstanding bullshit at its finest. Why can't elected officials look at a number and pick the smaller one considering the outcome is similar instead of wasting time? Who cares what ATU thinks is it really that big of a deal?

 

The politicians who sell their souls for the Union donations.

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^ it's more complicated than that. A lot of the extra cost comes from the union's work rules.

 

Sounds like a pretty decent way to spend $700,000.  It's funny how this is being presented as a politicians selling out to a corporation (i.e., the union) but the 9-0 vote for the bridge to Cincinnati State that costs millions of dollars isn't, even though it is intended to benefit one corporation, Cincinnati State.

 

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/122012/century-foundation-study-how-unions-increase-wages

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