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Cincinnati Streetcar / Cincinnati Bell Connector News

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Bob 5chw4r7z writes that, according to his back-of-the-envelope calculations, there has now been over $1 billion of economic development along the streetcar route -- and I believe he is only counting projects where the developer explicitly stated, "we chose to build this project at this location because it was on/near the streetcar route."

 

Look -- I know there are more precise ways of calculating the economic impact of the streetcar. If the city's economic development folks were collecting all the data and crunching numbers they could probably tell us exactly how much "additional" development can be credited to the streetcar vs. how much can be credited to other improvements in downtown and OTR. But as long as John Cranley is the mayor, the economic development department isn't going to be analyzing that data. So I applaud Bob for putting this together.

 

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Since it is coming up, and it seems like something would have been announced by now, is no organization stepping up to provide free weekends either this weekend or at BLINK?  These are two excellent chances to show the streetcar off to people who only come into town once or twice a year and if we are running the ticket machines, we might as well close the streetcar for those weekends, we will once again be permanently be turning off people to the system.

 

They had a few free weekends when Jeric came on, but nothing since.  Someone would certainly want the exposure from BLINK, right? Every streetcar stop would be plastered with your logo and mentioning that rides are free... all 1.5M people expected to be down there. Seems like a slam dunk to me.  Then again, all the city streets will probably be gridlocked like last time because people are either looking to park or want to drive through the city instead of walk, like this is the Christmas Nights of Lights at Coney Island.

Edited by 10albersa

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The streetcar lanes should be transit-only for Blink, with police either riding the streetcar or on bikes (or both) to enforce. I don't know if making it free would do much good, at least at night when the festival is going on, but I don't see how it would do any harm either. I expect the streetcar will be packed to the brim, regardless.

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The city should be using the RTC for almost all buses that go through downtown. Make the streetcar free to allow circulation. Close down all streets that the streetcar uses to only allow the streetcar and bicycles. I'm sure the city will do none of these things, though.

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1 hour ago, 10albersa said:

Since it is coming up, and it seems like something would have been announced by now, is no organization stepping up to provide free weekends either this weekend or at BLINK?  These are two excellent chances to show the streetcar off to people who only come into town once or twice a year and if we are running the ticket machines, we might as well close the streetcar for those weekends, we will once again be permanently be turning off people to the system.

 

They had a few free weekends when Jeric came on, but nothing since.  Someone would certainly want the exposure from BLINK, right? Every streetcar stop would be plastered with your logo and mentioning that rides are free... all 1.5M people expected to be down there. Seems like a slam dunk to me.  Then again, all the city streets will probably be gridlocked like last time because people are either looking to park or want to drive through the city instead of walk, like this is the Christmas Nights of Lights at Coney Island.

 

I have been screaming this since the conclusion of the last BLINK but I fully expect the city to fall on flat on its face and FAIL in this regard. They need temporary transit only lanes to cut through the traffic.

 

1 hour ago, Robuu said:

I don't know if making it free would do much good

 

Yes, it would. The ticket machines are garbage and using them in a big crowd would be stressful and sure to cause some awful experiences 

 

18 minutes ago, ryanlammi said:

The city should be using the RTC for almost all buses that go through downtown. 

 

The issue is busses couldn’t even get through downtown to get to the RTC if you wanted to use it. They need to have a standing protocol for large events to help busses (and the streetcar) navigate downtown.

Edited by thebillshark

www.cincinnatiideas.com

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7 minutes ago, thebillshark said:

The ticket machines are garbage and using them in a big crowd would be stressful and sure to cause some awful experiences 

Fair point. I don't really think they are garbage (at least not compared to others in other cities), but they create unnecessary friction that's exacerbated with crowds.

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Blink was created around the streetcar line so all those roads should be closed to regular cars.  Way too many people tried to drive through Blink last time and it caused a complete clusterf*ck downtown.  It was bumper to bumper traffic everywhere with masses of people walking around/through traffic.  I'm sure the city won't do anything different this time though because they're a bunch of idiots.  

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6 minutes ago, Cincy513 said:

with masses of people walking around/through traffic

 

This is fine, and how most streets downtown should operate, but in America we prefer the open road to one where people and cars negotiate around each other, like in so many European cities.

 

The streetcar roads should be closed for this event except to pedestrians and public transit.  Maybe that will happen in BLINK 2021 after it becomes a major issue this year, but as it is, there's going to be so many cars that the entire streetcar will be effectively shut down due to traffic.  I'm taking the bus, because last time took an hour to park, but I doubt many others will get the message that you need to take transit or park at the periphery of downtown.

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11 minutes ago, 10albersa said:

 

The streetcar roads should be closed for this event except to pedestrians and public transit.  Maybe that will happen in BLINK 2021 after it becomes a major issue this year

 

It was a major issue with the last BLINK two years ago


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3 hours ago, 10albersa said:

Since it is coming up, and it seems like something would have been announced by now, is no organization stepping up to provide free weekends either this weekend or at BLINK? 

I can't tell if the City's ridership forecasts take Blink into account or not. They're projecting 45,696 riders for October. For 2018 they projected 46,327. I

 

3 hours ago, 10albersa said:

These are two excellent chances to show the streetcar off to people who only come into town once or twice a year and if we are running the ticket machines, we might as well close the streetcar for those weekends, we will once again be permanently be turning off people to the system.

 

The biggest problem with the ticket machines is they are are a single point of failure. If you go to the Atlanta airport, they've got a dozen ticket machines for MARTA. Here we have one at each stop aside from the Banks. If one person can't figure it out or something breaks, the whole system shuts down.

 

3 hours ago, 10albersa said:

They had a few free weekends when Jeric came on, but nothing since. 

They had a few free Saturdays sponsored by DCI before Jeric came on. A free earth day Saturday and the Red's promotion. I don't think they ever did free weeknds. 

3 hours ago, 10albersa said:

 

Someone would certainly want the exposure from BLINK, right? Every streetcar stop would be plastered with your logo and mentioning that rides are free... all 1.5M people expected to be down there. Seems like a slam dunk to me.  Then again, all the city streets will probably be gridlocked like last time because people are either looking to park or want to drive through the city instead of walk, like this is the Christmas Nights of Lights at Coney Island.

Fortunately, I've been told the City does have a traffic control plan this year. 

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1 hour ago, thebillshark said:

 

It was a major issue with the last BLINK two years ago

You're not kidding. The only reason I was able to see most of Blink 2017 was because I brought my bike down. The streets were completely congested with cars and the sidewalks were almost completely congested with people. Filtering between lanes of stopped cars was the only way to get around reasonably quickly. I don't know how else you could get from Findlay to the Banks (and see stuff in between) during one night of the festival.

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19 minutes ago, Robuu said:

You're not kidding. The only reason I was able to see most of Blink 2017 was because I brought my bike down. The streets were completely congested with cars and the sidewalks were almost completely congested with people. Filtering between lanes of stopped cars was the only way to get around reasonably quickly. I don't know how else you could get from Findlay to the Banks (and see stuff in between) during one night of the festival.

 

We walked the whole thing, double stroller in tow. A ton of people on the sidewalks, but everyone was courteous and smiling.  Traffic was indeed horrendous.

Edited by CincyIntheKnow
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49 minutes ago, CincyIntheKnow said:

 

We walked the whole thing, double stroller in tow. A ton of people on the sidewalks, but everyone was courteous and smiling.  Traffic was indeed horrendous.

Same here, I must have just stayed on the fringe for covering more distance but had no issues and went back and forth on all the nights, I had my Great Dane though and he was wearing a blinky vest which does wonders parting the crowds. Dont let the traffic scare you off, just find the humor in the fact that for once a pedestrian is king and you can dart about at will while people sit stuck at the same light for like 20 cycles trying to get a glimpse of projections that are down alleys that they cant get to from their car..

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Huh, that's impressive. I saw a small bit of it Friday night when I was down with family members, and walking on sidewalks was really slow-going.

 

Went back Saturday with my bike and saw most of everything.

 

This year, it will probably be less congested because it will cover more distance. But then it will be harder to walk the whole thing for the same reason.

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Yeah it was super easy to walk around and see everything at the last Blink, even with the sidewalks packed.  If you wanted to move quicker all you had to do was skip over a block and the crowd was significantly less.  The roads were completely grid locked because of idiots trying to drive along the route.  If anyone is driving down I would just park at the banks and walk on foot from there.  

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City Council begins streetcar 'divorce' process

 

Cincinnati City Council began to divorce the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority from oversight of the Cincinnati Bell Connector streetcar on Wednesday, passing an ordinance that allows the city to hire a safety officer.

 

It’s the first of several ordinances council will have to pass to seal the separation. The measure passed with a tripartisan majority: Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman, an independent, Republican Councilwoman Amy Murray and Democratic council members P.G. Sittenfeld, Greg Landsman,David Mann and Wendell Young voted “yes.”

 

The ordinance allows the city to spend $100,000 on the safety officer, a requirement in order for the city to oversee the operations of the streetcar.

 

“The project needs to be reorganized,” Landsman said.

 

More below:

https://www.bizjournals.com/cincinnati/news/2019/09/18/city-council-begins-streetcar-divorce-process.html


"You don't just walk into a bar and mix it up by calling a girl fat" - buildingcincinnati speaking about new forumers

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I mean, the fact that Smitherman voted "yes" for the divorce when he has never voted "yes" on any streetcar-related ordinance in history tells you everything that you need to know.

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SORTA's current board doesn't want anything to do with the streetcar so that when they put a tax on the ballot next year, they can say "100% of this will go to the bus, none will go to the streetcar" ... even though that is already the case, because ... the streetcar is 100% funded by the City and is not funded by SORTA at all.

 

So, yeah, it makes about as much sense as Brexit.

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Are SORTA monthly passes going to stop working on the streetcar? That's been the main angle of "bus money pays for the streetcar" that I've seen, because all that money is in one pool and a portion is given to the streetcar based on the portion of monthly pass rides that are streetcar rides...or that's how I understand it.

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Exactly, it already doesn't fund the streetcar.  They don't trust themselves to be able to run a proper campaign and advertise (to the burbs) that this also fixes roads.  They got scared of COAST commenting on any and every streetcar-related tweet about how this ballot measure is a streetcar tax.  I honestly fully believe that they will continue that line of attack even if this divorce is finalized.  It's more egregious that the city is about to spend more than half of the streetcar safety net funds to formally put it in their hands.

Edited by 10albersa

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2 hours ago, Robuu said:

Are SORTA monthly passes going to stop working on the streetcar?

 

As far as I know, you will still be able to use Metro monthly passes on the streetcar after the divorce.

 

2 hours ago, Robuu said:

That's been the main angle of "bus money pays for the streetcar" that I've seen, because all that money is in one pool and a portion is given to the streetcar based on the portion of monthly pass rides that are streetcar rides...or that's how I understand it.

 

Right, from what I understand, when police officers check people's fares on the streetcar, they keep track of the fare payment method ... whether that's the app, a pass from the TVM, a Metro monthly pass, a paper transfer from the bus, etc. Based on that sample, you can calculate what percentage of streetcar riders are Metro monthly pass, and you can calculate how much of the Metro monthly pass revenue should go towards the streetcar. For COAST to claim this is "bus money going to the streetcar" is a really big stretch. The people rode the streetcar -- a portion of their fare should go...to...streetcar...operations.

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3 minutes ago, 10albersa said:

I honestly fully believe that they will continue that line of attack even if this divorce is finalized.

 

Exactly! That's why this divorce is so ridiculous. Even if SORTA 100% separates itself from the streetcar, they make Metro monthly passes no longer work on the streetcar, etc. -- COAST is still going to just lie and say that the SORTA bus tax is actually a streetcar tax. Because COAST's campaigns aren't based on facts, they are based on spreading misinformation and getting low-information voters in the townships riled up so they show up and vote against it.

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1 hour ago, taestell said:

COAST is still going to just lie and say that the SORTA bus tax is actually a streetcar tax.

💯

 

The "divorce" makes no sense from any angle. It costs money that doesn't need to be spent. It only serves as a barrier for integrating regional transit service. And it won't change anyone's view on the bus sales tax.

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And it gives the city more power to mess with the streetcar since the Streetcar CEO will now report to the City rather than to Metro. That's probably why Smitherman supports the divorce -- he wants to become mayor and pull all kinds of shenanigans -- like claim that the city "discovered a problem with the streetcar and had to shut it down for a few weeks to keep riders safe", etc.

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Great news!!

 

http://www.cincinnatibellconnector.com/news/94/35/-RIDE-THE-CINCINNATI-BELL-CONNECTOR-FOR-FREE-DURING-BLINK

 

CINCINNATI – Those heading downtown next month for the much-anticipated BLINK® art, light and culture event will have an easy way to explore. The Cincinnati Bell Connector streetcar will run free of charge for riders from 4 p.m. to the end of service each day from Oct. 10-13.

The free rides are courtesy of the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation.

 

 

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The streetcar was mobbed during Oktoberfest.  I confess that I rode without buying a ticket on Friday because there were so many people standing around the ticket machine.  

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Great. Now they need to commit to putting down some traffic cones and creating some temporary transit-only lanes during Blink, otherwise it will be unusable due to the massive number of cars that will be clogging downtown streets during Blink.

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Just now, taestell said:

Great. Now they need to commit to putting down some traffic cones and creating some temporary transit-only lanes during Blink, otherwise it will be unusable due to the massive number of cars that will be clogging downtown streets during Blink.

 

I observed that things ran very smoothly around the riverfront during Oktoberfest because officers were directing traffic and making sure that cars didn't block any intersections.  

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I still think the Kroger will be a huge boost for ridership at certain times and it will definitely be a benefit to the streetcar as it is another destination to use the streetcar. Would love to see a spur go E/W from Union Terminal FC Stadium to Casino. It would connect large parking lots with key destinations across the city and be an urban circulator. would be a boon to Pendleton who missed out on the Streetcar and the NW side of downtown. It would also be much more cost effective than going up a hill to Clifton.

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Want to increase ridership? Here's how you do it in order of importance:  

 

1. Make it fare free (cost- $70,834 in annual net fare revenue, increased ad revenue would defray some of the expenses)

2. Increase fine for blocking tracks to $250 for individuals and $500 for commercial vehicles, plug revenue back into enforcement (cost neutral) 

3. Install signal priority at the ten most impactful intersections (approx $200,000)

4. Re-allocate service from early morning/late night to midday to improve frequency (no cost, re-allocation of existing resources)

5. Move Metro Area H or have route 33 also stop at G & E to limit bus/streetcar conflict 

6. Re-sequence midblock streetcar only signals, reduces running time by about 1 minute per loop (staff time)

7. Cover the traffic light at Green and Henry with a crosswalk sign (staff time, installing sign cost)

 

That's it. There's some other easy things like have the doors open automatically unless it's very hot or very cold, but otherwise, that's pretty much what you need to do to fix the streetcar. It's relatively inexpensive (much less than the cost of the divorce plan). The problems with the streetcar are political, not technical. 

 

 

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Another thing that could help is changing Findlay Market's hours from 9am-6pm to 10am-7pm. Would make a difference. Almost everyone who can get there at 9:30am can get there at 10am, but the same isn't true of 5:45pm vs 6:15pm

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1 hour ago, taestell said:

Great. Now they need to commit to putting down some traffic cones and creating some temporary transit-only lanes during Blink, otherwise it will be unusable due to the massive number of cars that will be clogging downtown streets during Blink.

Eric Avner mentioned  on Facebook that another announcement would follow to address this. image.thumb.png.074932e33f9319de1c8f7f9ab36f552c.png

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I haven't been closely following the Blink related announcements so I'm not sure what is "official" vs. what is just rumored at this point. But I believe that there will be some street closures around the streetcar route that should help significantly. I just wonder if the closures will be enough to make it run smoothly, or if there will still be bottlenecks along the route that grind the system to a halt.

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Streetcar will be free during Blink

 

Riding the Cincinnati Bell Connector will be free to ride during the Blink art, light and culture festival, with the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation picking up the tab. The foundation is a major sponsor of Blink.

 

Riders will be able to skip paying the streetcar fare from 4 p.m. to the end of service on Oct. 10-13. The streetcar runs until midnight on Thursdays, 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 11 p.m. on Sunday.

 

More below:

https://www.bizjournals.com/cincinnati/news/2019/09/23/streetcar-will-be-free-during-blink.html


"You don't just walk into a bar and mix it up by calling a girl fat" - buildingcincinnati speaking about new forumers

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16 hours ago, thomasbw said:

Want to increase ridership? Here's how you do it in order of importance:  

 

1. Make the streetcar fare free (cost- $70,834 in annual net fare revenue, increased ad revenue would defray some of the expenses)

2. Increase fine for blocking tracks to $250 for individuals and $500 for commercial vehicles, plug revenue back into enforcement (cost neutral) 

3. Re-time the traffic signals generally, especially at non-rush hour times (already underway as part of downtown signal re-timing)

4. Install signal priority at the ten most impactful intersections (approx $200,000)

5. Re-allocate service from early morning/late night to midday to improve frequency (no cost, re-allocation of existing resources)

6. Move Metro Area H or have route 33 also stop at G & E to limit bus/streetcar conflict (Moving the stop would be $200,000ish; adding additional stops is $0)

7. Re-sequence midblock streetcar only signals, reduces running time by about 1 minute per loop (staff time)

8. Cover the traffic light at Green and Henry with a crosswalk sign (staff time, installing sign cost)

 

That's it. There's some other easy things like have the doors open automatically unless it's very hot or very cold, but otherwise, that's pretty much what you need to do to fix the streetcar. It's relatively inexpensive (much less than the cost of the divorce plan). The problems with the streetcar are political, not technical. 

 

 

I added a new #3 that's already an ongoing project and a cost estimate for new #6 but pretty much the same. 

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17 hours ago, jmecklenborg said:

I observed that things ran very smoothly around the riverfront during Oktoberfest because officers were directing traffic and making sure that cars didn't block any intersections

 

I rode it a couple times during Oktoberfest, the CBD (which has always been a problem) was a mess.  It took 3 light cycles to get past the fountain square stop.

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