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Thread: Streetcars in Cincy?

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  1. #1
    SERP Emeritus paintmered's Avatar
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    Streetcars in Cincy?

    This doesn't sound like all that bad of a proposal. And the bus system really does need addressed here.

    City studies streetcar system
    BY JON NEWBERRY | JNEWBERRY@ENQUIRER.COM

    The city of Cincinnati has hired a national engineering group to study a streetcar link of the riverfront and downtown business district with Over-the-Rhine.

    The initial phase would likely be a three- to four-mile loop. An extension to the University of Cincinnati and city hospital complex could be part of the first phase or come later.

    Future lines could extend into Northern Kentucky and possibly other city neighborhoods to the east and west.

    The concept has been pushed for several years by groups that think Cincinnati's lack of public transportation alternatives is hurting economic development.

    Chris Bortz, chairman of City Council's Economic Development Committee, is a streetcar advocate.

    He said most members of council and Mayor Mark Mallory also favor the idea if it can be financed without additional taxes - which he thinks is feasible.

    "The city has a great need for a more complete, holistic transportation system. Buses and roads just don't get it done," Bortz said.

    "We need to create a city that's easy to get around in."

    The $160,000 study by Omaha, Neb.-based HDR Inc. is to be completed by early May, according to Michael Moore, city architect.

    The project team includes Charles Hales, the "father" of the highly successful streetcar system in Portland, Ore., who's now a principal with HDR's Portland office.

    The Portland system has spurred billions of dollars of economic development over the last five years, most of which is within a block or so of the streetcar line.

    That is what makes the concept so promising for areas such as Over-the-Rhine and the Uptown district.

    Empty lots and redevelopment opportunities abound there.

    Moore said the study is expected to produce "a recommended Phase-One alignment" including projected construction costs, operating costs and potential financing plan. It would then be up to City Council and the city manager to decide if and how to proceed, he said.

    Noting that streetcar systems are much easier and cheaper to build than light rail, Bortz said it's feasible that streetcars could be up and running within two years if the city pursued it aggressively.

    "It seems to be a transportation system that works in a lot of other cities," Moore said.

    Some 50 other cities have studied or are studying similar projects, including Atlanta, where a proposed streetcar line has attracted "so much interest that they can't settle on a plan," he said.

    Architect Denny Dellinger, owner of the former Jackson Brewery building and a founder of the Brewery District community development organization in Over-the-Rhine, said his group supports a streetcar line because of its ability to stimulate economic development.

    "Developers aren't going to build a new development on a bus line, but they will along a streetcar line," he said. The rail in the ground makes all the difference. "That's a permanent, significant improvement that's not going to move," he said.

    "I think it would just change things overnight. I really do."

    HDR and the city began work in November, but it took a while to get going, Moore said. The next meeting is planned for later this month with a 25-to-30 member local advisory panel that's being assembled by the city. With development plans proceeding for the Banks site on Cincinnati's central riverfront and other major development projects, it seemed like the right time to examine a streetcar system, he said.

    The goal, Moore said, is to strike a balance between serving riders who want to travel between existing destinations - the riverfront, downtown employers, convention facilities, entertainment venues, Fountain Square, Findlay Market - and promoting development opportunities in areas that are not already fully built up, particularly in Over-the-Rhine.

    "One of the great things streetcars do is allow folks to not use their cars so much ... (or) not even own cars," he said. "If a streetcar makes the demand for parking less, then that opens the door for redevelopment."

    A lot of proposed residential developments get hung up by the cost of building parking facilities, so if a streetcar system can reduce the number of needed parking spaces from two or three cars per unit to one car per unit, that can close the financing gap and make those projects feasible.

    The idea of a streetcar was appealing to Minyette Burke of Mount Healthy as she waited at a cold Vine Street bus stop downtown on Tuesday afternoon, especially if it reduced the time she'd have to wait for her ride up the hill to Clifton.

    "I would ride it. I think it would be nice," she said.
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  2. #2
    This one's for you Edd Heath's Avatar
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    Re: Streetcars in Cincy?

    Why don't they just clean out and run subways like they wanted to in the '20's.

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  3. #3
    Member harangatang's Avatar
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    Re: Streetcars in Cincy?

    Quote Originally Posted by Heath View Post
    Why don't they just clean out and run subways like they wanted to in the '20's.

    That's not possible because the city ran a bunch pipes and lines through the tunnels. I think they could use sections of the tunnel if they wanted to but not the whole thing.

  4. #4
    Rally Onion! Chip R's Avatar
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    Re: Streetcars in Cincy?

    $160K is chump change to spend. Wait till they start talking in the tens of millions and watch how quickly this idea dies.
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    Be the ball Roy Tucker's Avatar
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    Re: Streetcars in Cincy?

    I think this is a great idea and it's promising that the city is actually thinking about it. One can hope.

    But I'll be stunned if anything comes of it. The city of Cincinnati can't agree on what soup to have for lunch, let alone a street car system.

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  6. #6
    First Time Caller SunDeck's Avatar
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    Re: Streetcars in Cincy?

    I think rail makes more sense if the purpose is to move people from the burbs to the core. A rail along the river out to the casinos, a rail up I-71 to King Island, a rail across the river. These forward thinking ideas have been put forward and were of course killed by the voters who, like Steve Chabot insist that "we could buy everybody in the district a car for what this light rail boondoggle would end up costing taxpayers." (hello Steve...that's kind of the point!).

    Light rail is not a bad idea if the purpose is to move people around the metropolitan area efficiently and to improve access to the urban core. But streetcars? I have a hard time understanding how planting tracks in the street A) is more efficient than buses or B) is a better way to spend transportation dollars in a small downtown. This is just an attempt by the OTR development interests to create a novelty that will spur development in their area. While I have no problem with supporting development of OTR and other parts of the downtown core, I think it is folly to believe that streetcars would be anything more than an attraction. Now, if they want to talk about bringing them back and reconstructing the inclines as a way to create a tourism buzz, then I'm all for it. Just don't try to sell it to me as a better alternative to buses. Buses may not be nostalgic, but they work.
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  7. #7
    Titanic Struggles Caveat Emperor's Avatar
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    Re: Streetcars in Cincy?

    Quote Originally Posted by SunDeck View Post
    Light rail is not a bad idea if the purpose is to move people around the metropolitan area efficiently and to improve access to the urban core. But streetcars? I have a hard time understanding how planting tracks in the street A) is more efficient than buses or B) is a better way to spend transportation dollars in a small downtown.
    A.) Even with ridership growing in the wake of high gas prices, there is still a large social stigma attached to riding the bus. I imagine if you did a show of hands, more people would feel comfortable riding around downtown on a train or streetcar (especially with children) than would riding around on a bus. The bus, as a mode of transportation, has gotten a bum rap (no pun intended) as being unsafe and mainly suited for poor people.

    Further, streetcar lines create easily recognizeable routes that are repeated as opposed to scheduled. Anything done downtown would be fairly simple -- cars run continuously on the line and makes stops at X, Y, and Z. This is contrasted to the bus system, which requires getting a map ahead of time and working out the actual bus schedule to fit with wherever you are attempting to go.

    B.) Having good inner-city transportation offers an opportunity to grow the downtown area. There are lots of areas of town that are underdeveloped simply because they aren't close to any major destinations. This is especially true on the western edge of downtown. There is lots of opportunity for redevelopment in that area -- especially given it's close proximity to the stadium and the museum center -- and having reliable and regular transportation to and from that area to other parts of downtown could help spur development. Trains and Streetcars offer the opportunity to move people from their places of busines downtown to bars and nightlife in other parts of town or to sporting events at the stadium, or a combination of all three.

    So yeah, it's a small downtown -- but that's only because it's been dying steadily for the past few decades. Something like a streetcar line, if coupled with smart urban renewal, could do a lot for the city. It has to be both, though -- one need only look at Detroit to see that an inner-city mass transit line (the infamous "People Mover") alone won't solve problems if there is no place that anyone wants to ride it to.
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  8. #8
    Mon chou Choo vaticanplum's Avatar
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    Re: Streetcars in Cincy?

    Quote Originally Posted by Caveat Emperor View Post
    A.) Even with ridership growing in the wake of high gas prices, there is still a large social stigma attached to riding the bus. I imagine if you did a show of hands, more people would feel comfortable riding around downtown on a train or streetcar (especially with children) than would riding around on a bus. The bus, as a mode of transportation, has gotten a bum rap (no pun intended) as being unsafe and mainly suited for poor people.

    Further, streetcar lines create easily recognizeable routes that are repeated as opposed to scheduled. Anything done downtown would be fairly simple -- cars run continuously on the line and makes stops at X, Y, and Z. This is contrasted to the bus system, which requires getting a map ahead of time and working out the actual bus schedule to fit with wherever you are attempting to go.

    B.) Having good inner-city transportation offers an opportunity to grow the downtown area. There are lots of areas of town that are underdeveloped simply because they aren't close to any major destinations. This is especially true on the western edge of downtown. There is lots of opportunity for redevelopment in that area -- especially given it's close proximity to the stadium and the museum center -- and having reliable and regular transportation to and from that area to other parts of downtown could help spur development. Trains and Streetcars offer the opportunity to move people from their places of busines downtown to bars and nightlife in other parts of town or to sporting events at the stadium, or a combination of all three.

    So yeah, it's a small downtown -- but that's only because it's been dying steadily for the past few decades. Something like a streetcar line, if coupled with smart urban renewal, could do a lot for the city. It has to be both, though -- one need only look at Detroit to see that an inner-city mass transit line (the infamous "People Mover") alone won't solve problems if there is no place that anyone wants to ride it to.
    Normally I would advocate a turning around those riconkulous bus attitudes, but in this case I think CE is right. Cincinnatians are very fond of anything that can be remotely associated with the word "quaint". streetcars fit this bill. Hoo-ha.
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  9. #9
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    Re: Streetcars in Cincy?

    Quote Originally Posted by SunDeck View Post
    I think rail makes more sense if the purpose is to move people from the burbs to the core. A rail along the river out to the casinos, a rail up I-71 to King Island, a rail across the river. These forward thinking ideas have been put forward and were of course killed by the voters who, like Steve Chabot insist that "we could buy everybody in the district a car for what this light rail boondoggle would end up costing taxpayers." (hello Steve...that's kind of the point!).

    Light rail is not a bad idea if the purpose is to move people around the metropolitan area efficiently and to improve access to the urban core. But streetcars? I have a hard time understanding how planting tracks in the street A) is more efficient than buses or B) is a better way to spend transportation dollars in a small downtown. This is just an attempt by the OTR development interests to create a novelty that will spur development in their area. While I have no problem with supporting development of OTR and other parts of the downtown core, I think it is folly to believe that streetcars would be anything more than an attraction. Now, if they want to talk about bringing them back and reconstructing the inclines as a way to create a tourism buzz, then I'm all for it. Just don't try to sell it to me as a better alternative to buses. Buses may not be nostalgic, but they work.
    well said. I agree 1000%
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  10. #10
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    Re: Streetcars in Cincy?

    Streetcars would be awesome! Sadly, I don't think it'll happen though. Cincinnati is just that way I guess.

  11. #11
    Member Highlifeman21's Avatar
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    Re: Streetcars in Cincy?

    Quote Originally Posted by SunDeck View Post
    I think rail makes more sense if the purpose is to move people from the burbs to the core. A rail along the river out to the casinos, a rail up I-71 to King Island, a rail across the river. These forward thinking ideas have been put forward and were of course killed by the voters who, like Steve Chabot insist that "we could buy everybody in the district a car for what this light rail boondoggle would end up costing taxpayers." (hello Steve...that's kind of the point!).

    Light rail is not a bad idea if the purpose is to move people around the metropolitan area efficiently and to improve access to the urban core. But streetcars? I have a hard time understanding how planting tracks in the street A) is more efficient than buses or B) is a better way to spend transportation dollars in a small downtown. This is just an attempt by the OTR development interests to create a novelty that will spur development in their area. While I have no problem with supporting development of OTR and other parts of the downtown core, I think it is folly to believe that streetcars would be anything more than an attraction. Now, if they want to talk about bringing them back and reconstructing the inclines as a way to create a tourism buzz, then I'm all for it. Just don't try to sell it to me as a better alternative to buses. Buses may not be nostalgic, but they work.

    If light rail for the City of Cincinnati can get voted down b/c of an autobody garage in Deer Park, that says something about this metropolis.

    Instead of building light rail out to the casinos in Indiana, why not pass the vote to allow casinos in Ohio and get a piece of the action? Everytime I'm at either Belterra or Grand Vic, at least 80% of the cars in the parking lots have OH license plates. I can't comment on Argosy, b/c I can't stand that casino, but I would venture a guess it would be a higher % of OH license plates due to the closer proximity to the border.

  12. #12
    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Re: Streetcars in Cincy?

    Downtown San Francisco has streetcars, they are all painted and designed to represent the streetcars of defunct old lines from other cities

    http://www.sfmuni.com/cms/mms/rider/histcars.htm
    Code:
    Car Number	City 	Paint Scheme
    1007	Philadelphia 	Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company 
    ("Red Arrow" Lines): maroon & cream
    1010 	San Francisco 	Muni: blue & yellow
    1015	St. Louis 	Illinois Terminal Railroad: green, cream, & gray
    
    Single-ended PCC cars originally built for Philadelphia in 1946 
    with most cars painted to look like streetcars from other cities:
    
    Car Number 	City 	Paint Scheme
    1050 	San Francisco 	Muni: green & cream (original "wing" style)
    1051 	San Francisco 	Muni: green & cream (simplified style)
    1052 	Los Angeles 	Los Angeles Railway: orange & yellow, with silver stripes
    1053 	Brooklyn 	Board of Transportation of the City of New York: blue-green & silver
    1054 	Philadelphia 	Philadelphia Transportation Company: silver & cream, with blue stripes
    1055 	Philadelphia 	Philadelphia Transportation Company: green & cream, with red stripe
    1056 	Kansas City 	Kansas City Public Service Company: cream, black, & silver
    1057 	Cincinnati 	Cincinnati Street Railway: yellow & gray, with green stripes
    1058 	Chicago 	Chicago Transit Authority: green & cream
    1059 	Boston 	Boston Elevated Railway: orange, cream, & silver, with red stripe
    1060 	Newark 	Public Service Coordinated Transport: gray & white, with blue stripes
    1061 	Los Angeles 	Pacific Electric Railway: red, orange, & gray (original style)
    1062 	Louisville 	The Louisville Railway Company: green & cream, with black stripe
    1063 	Baltimore 	Baltimore Transit Company: yellow & gray
    Here's the Cincinnati one


  13. #13
    Rally Onion! Chip R's Avatar
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    Re: Streetcars in Cincy?

    You know, we don't need streetcars, we need a monorail.

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  14. #14
    The Lineups stink. KronoRed's Avatar
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    Re: Streetcars in Cincy?

    I like this idea.

    Of course I like all mass transit ideas, even bus lanes
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  15. #15
    Rally Onion! Chip R's Avatar
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    Re: Streetcars in Cincy?

    Quote Originally Posted by KronoRed View Post
    I like this idea.

    Of course I like all mass transit ideas, even bus lanes

    Says the guy with the Geo.
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