SORTA insists it can't release details about streetcar operation

May 11, 2015

Cincinnati steetcar rendering.
Credit Provided/City of Cincinnati

The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) continues to insist federal guidelines prevent it from releasing the details about the proposals it has received to operate the city's streetcar system.

Some Cincinnati council members and the mayor want those details public.  Council Member Kevin Flynn says there's no federal money being proposed for streetcar operations.

“I’m not seeing any dollars coming from the federal government,’’ Flynn said at council's Budget and Finance Committee meeting Monday. “In which case, they’re wrong when they say you can’t release this because you are under federal procurement guidelines. We’re not.”  

SORTA officials say while there's no federal money right now for streetcar operations, the guidelines must be followed if such funding is sought in the future.

“If you want to have formula money or have this project eligible for formula money in the future, you must go through this process in order to make it eligible,’’ said SORTA general manager Dwight Ferrell. “If you use a process for selection that is contrary to that, it would not be eligible for federal money in the future.”

The agency says the details can only be released after a contract for streetcar operation is awarded.  The Cincinnati Enquirer has also filed legal action against SORTA to get the documents.