Here is what we know about the Cincinnati Streetcar Proposal:
- The bonds the city is selling to build the streetcar carry the full support of the city so they can be paid back from operating funds, tax increases or reduced city services.
- The expected $50 million a mile (3 miles = 6 miles of track) to build this proposed route is likely a low ball figure since the projected cost for doing the wiring is too low according to multiple Duke workers.
- Water lines and optical fiber lines will need to be relocated for this project (at water user’s cost) and the proposed placement under the rail line will make servicing these utilities more difficult.
- In taking federal funds, the city is obligating itself to operate the streetcar, whether it is useful or not, for 40 years.
- To keep the persons who are getting on the streetcar from being run down by traffic in the parking lane, curb extensions will be added to stop the parking lanes from being used for rush hour traffic. Traffic in the same lane as the streetcar will have to stop when the streetcar stops.
- Issues regarding the Over the Rhine historic district are not completely resolved.
- Streetcars normally run in a straight line, the Cincinnati proposal has about eight 90 degree turns which would cause noisy "squealing" and excessive wear.
- It is expected that the streetcar would run at least a $5 million a year operating deficit. Cincinnati is planning to divert money from its anticipated casino revenue to pay for these annual losses.
- The proposed route is about 3 miles long and the estimated time from the Freedom Center to Vine and McMillan Street is 27 minutes. It is planned that the streetcar would stop running at 11PM so it would not support "night life."
- If there is a fire, the Fire Department will not be allowed to run its hoses across the tracks, and they can’t run ladders or other rescue items over the 720 volt power lines. If there is a major fire on the block, or even a traffic accident, the streetcar cannot change its routes like the busses do now.
- The streetcar is not being designed to coordinate with the existing metro bus routes and it is anticipated that parking will be needed since most people are expected to drive to get the streetcar.
- The assistant city manager who was working on the streetcar plan full time and was paid from the city’s 2010 operating fund is now the project manager.
- Other ways the proposed streetcar has been competing against Cincinnati City Services such as police, fire, environmental, parks, recreation, pension funds and so on for scarce dollars are:
-- when any police officers are assigned to protect or handle traffic to protect the construction of the streetcar
-- when the lease payments are being made to Duke Energy after the sale of the City's gas and electric lights to seed the streetcar with 7 million dollars,
-- &/or when the engineers from the city spend time working on the streetcar plans.
-- As in other cities where economic development springs up along a streetcar line, the City of Cincinnati is expecting to subsidize the development with its tax dollars and other revenue sources.
The Hamilton County Green Party is in favor of good public transportation. We oppose the proposed Cincinnati streetcar project because we believe that building a wasteful, inefficient, and ineffective system that serves a very limited population will diminish public support for investment in true mass transit. This project could doom any chance our region has to develop a meaningful light rail or other public transportation system beyond the bus system.
Petition language regarding the Streetcar
TITLE: AN AMENDMENT TO THE CHARTER OF THE
CITY OF CINCINNATI TO PREVENT SPENDING TO BUILD AND OPERATE A STREETCAR SYSTEM.
TEXT: Be it resolved by the people of the City of Cincinnati that a new Article XVI of the Charter is hereby added as follows:
Section 1. The City shall not spend any money on the design, engineering, construction or operation of a Streetcar System, or any portion thereof. Further, the City shall not incur any indebtedness or contractual obligations for the purpose of financing or constructing any Streetcar System, or any portion thereof.
Section 2. This Amendment applies from the date it is certifited to the Charter, and will continue in effect until December 31, 2020. This Amendment will have no force or effect after December 31, 2020.
Section 3. For purposes of this Amendment, (i) the term "Streetcar System" means a system of passenger vehicles operated on rails constructed primarily in existing public rights of way, (ii) the term "City" includes without limitation the City, the Manager, the Mayor, the Council, and the City's various boards, commissions, agencies and departments and (iii) the term "money" means any money from any source whatsoever.
Section 4. In the event that any provision of this Article XVI is found to be unconstitutional or impermissibly in conflict with state or federal law, only such provision found to be unconstitutional or impermissible will be stricken, and the remainder of this Article XVI will remain in full force and effect.