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Cincinnati Streetcar / Cincinnati Bell Connector News

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I'm no traffic engineer but this seems like missed cost savings. Why does a two lane street need three stoplights? Especially if the third light needs its own pole with giant arm and doesn't actually hang over a lane. Feels unnecessary...


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

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Yeah, I have noticed that some of the newly installed arms have three traffic signals while others only have two. I'm sure there is some logic behind it, either based on the classification of the roads or the traffic volumes of those intersections.

 

I will admit that these new arms on Second Street look pretty silly with the traffic lights rising above the arms. They should've gone with the same style traffic signals as the CBD.

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10 days without a single streetcar post?  Is everyone on vacation?

 

I was wondering the same thing (although I am on vacation in Portland soooo).

 

Saw a story about Cranley maybe budging on the operating budget a little to get union workers?

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I think at this point the streetcar is almost finished with construction so there aren't many more updates in that regard and not much real news has happened. Though as OllyTransit pointed out there was an article yesterday saying Cranley might budge and give up another $2 million over ten years to cover the difference which is really good news. That's pretty major for Cranley.

 

Other than that though trackwork has only a handful of blocks left to go, wire hanging is done in OTR and the first train is getting closer to its delivery date.

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Track construction is moving in two directions downtown. One crew is heading south from OTR and has made it down to 6th. Another crew is moving north from The Banks and has made it to 4th. So essentially there are only two blocks of track left to install. Some of that is special track where the streetcar changes lanes on Main. Also, they are almost finished repaving Walnut.

 

Main Street crew moving south (June 5):

18896929159_098132d115_b.jpg

 

Main Street crossing Third (June 13):

18895469508_b9c685403d_b.jpg

 

Moving north on Main (June 13):

19083130945_8a38a65b2b_b.jpg

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So they screwed up the parking lines apparently. They've started covering the lines they painted and marked for new ones about another foot or so in from the originals. It looks pretty bad. Construction is extremely complex, but this is a lack of checking a measurement. It goes against one of the first things taught when working on a construction site. Measure twice, cut once.

 

I also noticed where they painted new yellow lines on 12th and they aren't straight and there are three lines at one point.

 

It's not an attractive way to showcase a fully redone road with streetcar rails in place.

 

Here you can see the temporary lines (left) and permanent lines (right). As you can see, there is still plenty of room for cars to park within these narrower lanes.

 

18895283300_eaf18128a7_b.jpg

 

19077336472_7d6bf45a3f_b.jpg

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I assume the goal is to have trackwork finished by the ASG so traffic isn't impacted by closed lanes?

 

I doubt it's going to be completely done before the All Star Game. They're crossing 6th this weekend but still have two more intersections to cross (each requiring a weekend closure) and a lane change to install. They might be able to clear the construction equipment out of downtown for the All Star Game though. I assume they will be prohibited from doing any construction the week of the 13th.

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10 days without a single streetcar post?  Is everyone on vacation?

 

I was wondering the same thing (although I am on vacation in Portland soooo).

 

Saw a story about Cranley maybe budging on the operating budget a little to get union workers?

 

Is this related to the difference between using SORTA and the private company? Maybe I don't understand all the details (very likely) but I'm not sure why the city should pay extra just to have union workers. Also, I didn't think those workers had any streetcar experience whereas the cheaper company did. To me it seemed like a no-brainer and a great time for streetcar supporters to say that we do care about spending....Sorry if this is dredging up stuff already discussed.

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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.

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^^I sent an email to the Dems saying that full hours is more important than using the union employees, though both are preferred.

 

I agree it would make the Dems look more level headed if they pursued the turn key option instead of union. But if Cranley is willing to pay more for the union employees, I'm cool with that.

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When people say 'temporary' are they painted with a paint that will fade quicker than normal? Because the "blacked out" lines on Race look bad.

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My understanding is that they will be union workers either way. The cost difference is due to pensions if the employees are hired directly, rather than through a private contractor, where they would presumably have a 401k instead, like the rest of us non-government employees.

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My understanding is that they will be union workers either way. The cost difference is due to pensions if the employees are hired directly, rather than through a private contractor, where they would presumably have a 401k instead, like the rest of us non-government employees.

 

It's also the current SORTA rules that make it more expensive. Apparently the union wouldn't make concessions on non-salary items that would have brought the cost down.

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Track construction is moving in two directions downtown. One crew is heading south from OTR and has made it down to 6th. Another crew is moving north from The Banks and has made it to 4th. So essentially there are only two blocks of track left to install. Some of that is special track where the streetcar changes lanes on Main. Also, they are almost finished repaving Walnut.

 

 

Great pics! I tweeted the flickr link and one of the photos via @allaboardohio :)


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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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.

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I assume the goal is to have trackwork finished by the ASG so traffic isn't impacted by closed lanes?

 

I doubt it's going to be completely done before the All Star Game. They're crossing 6th this weekend but still have two more intersections to cross (each requiring a weekend closure) and a lane change to install. They might be able to clear the construction equipment out of downtown for the All Star Game though. I assume they will be prohibited from doing any construction the week of the 13th.

 

Schedule

6th & Main: Jun 26-29

ASG stop: Jul 9-15

5th & Main: Jul 24-27

2nd & Main curve: Aug 7-17

4th & Main: Aug 28-31


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

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From the Business Courier last night: New deal pending on streetcar operations?

 

To the Enquirer this morning: SORTA: $2M not enough to hire union to run streetcar

 

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

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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.

 

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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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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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