Monday, July 13, 2009

Cody's Take on the Streetcar

Hello all!

I'm currently unemployed, and due to the fact that I'm unemployed and have litterally no money left (and debt to pay off), my parents are talking about throwing me out... That makes perfect sense doesn't it...? Yeeeaaah...

Anyway, as another consequence of my predicament, I've been applying to as many jobs as possible, including applying to be's Public Transit writer. for the application I had to write a brief article about my chosen subject matter, so I figured I'd share it with you folks (since this blog tends to feature the Streetcar periodically):

Ignorance is not always bliss… There hasn’t been much in the media about the proposed Cincinnati Streetcar lately. In fact, the only public exposure I have encountered has been a clipboarder campaigning to stop the streetcar project back at the Cincinnati Pride Festival in June and a poster for the upcoming film showing of “Taken for a Ride,” a film about GM’s role in the disappearance of streetcars, which I saw in Northside. Regardless, because yours truly is such a transit fan, the subject is always nagging at me like an angry spouse. There are so many different sides to the story to take into account, and here are a few that move me most:
1.) has some good points about the benefits of a streetcar system. It is true that a streetcar system is a bit more permanent than the use of motorbuses because there are tracks laid in the roadbed. Permanence of a route could certainly spur business development along routes because of the guaranteed movement of people in the area.
2.) The same aspect of a streetcar system has a number of drawbacks however. There is a huge cost of materials and labor to tear up a roadbed, lay tracks, repave the road, and set up the overhead wires to power the cars. Also, when there is bad weather or road work bus routes can be diverted to compensate for flooding, snow, or maintenance. Streetcars cannot do this. In fact, there are photographs of rail lines built on stilts during flooding. This could cause Cincinnati to spend even more of the money it already doesn’t have…

-Cody, The Seeker


Randy Simes said...

Nice commentary, although a couple of your assumptions are wrong.

1) Streetcars can and regularly operate in snowy and icy conditions. In actuality the biggest threat to streetcars are wet leaves during the fall. This is easily resolved with a sweep of the tracks though.

2) The floodplain management of today trumps that of the early 20th and late 19th centuries. The 100-year floodplain will end at Mehring Way once the construction of The Banks and the Central Riverfront Park is complete. Currently it's just north of there where the giant wall is at the parking lots. The Downtown to Uptown routing would not cross into any floodplain whatsoever and would therefore be at no risk of flooding.

3) Streetcars and any rail transit for that matter utilizes cross-overs on its tracking. So if you had road maintenance or a traffic accident blocking or preventing the streetcar to move through the area around 5th & Main, then you would simply cross over and use the Walnut Street tracks until the necessary bypass is made.

4) There has actually been a decent amount of news lately regarding the project. The City has selected the team that will help design, build, fund, operate and construct the system. It's one of the most experience transportation teams in the nation and some are locating offices here as a result of this project. It has also been discovered that those petition toting friends of yours are looking to stop all passenger rail investments within the City of Cincinnati, not just the Cincinnati Streetcar. That would include any light rail, the high-speed 3C Corridor rail, Eastern Corridor Project, Midwest Regional high-speed rail to Chicago and any other rail initiative that might come our way.

Sorry to hear about your recent spell of bad luck...good luck with the writer position at the Examiner.

Travis Estell said...

I don't quite understand your opposition to the Streetcar. With a regional rail system, you need different types of transit working together in order for it to be successful. Commuter rail brings in people from the exurbs, light rail gets people between different city neighborhoods, and a Streetcar circulates people within our neighborhoods. This is similar to the way our road network is set up, with large interstates, arterials, and local city streets.

The regional light rail proposal for Hamilton county included all 3 of these types of rail, but it was unfortunately voted down. So the Streetcar is a chance for Cincinnati to build the Streetcar element now and jump start development within the city. I would love to see it connect to a larger regional rail system in the future.

Speaking of other forms of rail transit, there are two other projects underway. It's planned that Cincinnati will be served by a commuter rail line to our Eastern suburbs and high speed rail that will link Cincinnati with Columbus and Cleveland. A streetcar would be a perfect way for the people riding those systems to get around once they are in Cincinnati.

Keep in mind that the so-called "Streetcar petition" being circulated by COAST and the NAACP will also affect all other forms of passenger rail. This would add additional roadblocks, slowing down the other two rail projects I mentioned (Eastern Corridor and 3C Corridor) and any other future rail transit proposal.

Jason said...

I definitely agree with the other two comments before me. An important point to remember is that investing in streetcars now means it will be easy to obtain larger, regional systems later on. And as mentioned, the current "streetcar petition" that the NAACP and COAST are putting on the ballot is not a streetcar vote at all...Its an anti-rail charter amendment. They don't want to see any form of mass transit other than petroleum fueled busses in Cincinnati and that's what they are trying to accomplish with this charter amendment. It would be a very bad thing for Cincinnati's future if it passes.
Rail transit will bring much needed new residents, businesses and jobs to our city. You would have a much easier time finding a job if these things happened.

UCstudent said...

"Also, when there is bad weather or road work bus routes can be diverted to compensate for flooding, snow, or maintenance. Streetcars cannot do this. In fact, there are photographs of rail lines built on stilts during flooding."

Not sure you're making a good argument there. In fact in Cincinnati, streetcars continued to run in times of flood using cars specifically designed for such an event. I challenge you to find buses running in flooded areas in 37 where the streetcars continued to run.

Brad said...

Upon completion of The Banks, the entire streetcar route will be out of the 100 year flood plain. Here is a link to the FEMA flood map:

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