Six Council members sent a letter to the Federal Transit Administration about the city's streetcar project. The text of the letter is below.
Meanwhile, Council is scheduled to hear public comments again on the project Wednesday afternoon starting at 1:30. The streetcar committee will hold a meeting Thursday at 9 a.m. to learn more about an audit to determine the costs of stopping the project versus continuing it. The full Council will meet Thursday at 2 p.m. to take a vote on stopping or continuing the project.
Dear Mr. Rogoff:
We write to you representing a majority of Cincinnati’s City Council, which, as the policy- and budget-setting body for the City, has sole authority to make allocations for projects like the streetcar.
We acknowledge that the situation involving the construction of our streetcar project has been an unusual one with a higher-than-desired number of twists and turns. While the democratic process is not always a tidy one, we do want to express - unequivocally - our appreciation to the Federal Transit Administration for your willingness to invest in Cincinnati’s future and in our transportation infrastructure, as well as for the time and energy that your agency has devoted to this project over the past several years.
For the first time since the new mayor and council were sworn in earlier this month, we are beginning to see a viable path forward to complete construction on this first phase of the project. Public and private sector leaders are actively collaborating to explore a number of channels through which to make the streetcar’s annual operating expenses manageable. It might advance these discussions if FTA could provide Council as soon as possible with three specific categories of information: (1) models that other cities have used to cover operating costs of discrete transit services other than general operating revenues of the city; and (2) the types of operational structures adopted by such cities that, in FTA’s experience, have been the most effective, in terms of both functioning efficiently and attracting financial support; and (3) clarity as to when precisely the Cincinnati streetcar must identify its financing mechanism to cover the operating costs of the project.
Finally, we want you to know how much we value our city’s partnership with FTA and that we are grateful for your cooperation in helping us find a way to proceed responsibly and to avoid the damage of cancellation.
Council Member PG Sittenfeld
Council Member David Mann
Council Member Kevin Flynn
Council Member Chris Seelbach
Council Member Yvette Simpson
Council Member Wendell Young