Provided / SORTA

A Cincinnati Council committee has approved a streetcar operating approach, but it's likely to fail when the full council votes this afternoon.  The committee approved a management option where a private contractor will manage the system using local transit union workers.  Council Member Chris Seelbach favors that approach even though he has limited information.

Provided/City of Cincinnati

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley said Tuesday he has a plan to pay for streetcar operations if City Council approves the "management option" presented by the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) on June 5th.

Provided / SORTA

A Cincinnati council committee could not reach a decision Tuesday on the best way to operate the city's streetcar system.  So the group will meet again next Wednesday.  

There are two proposals with about a $700,000 difference between them.  

Provided / SORTA

Metro estimates it will cost $4 million to $4.7 million to operate Cincinnati's streetcar in its first year.

The estimates vary depending on whether the system is run by union SORTA (Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority) employees or a private contractor.

According to the SORTA report, the cheaper option of $4 million would be the private contractor.

Provided / SORTA

The latest controversy with the Cincinnati streetcar project involves what happens to special events along the Downtown and Over-the-Rhine route.  

A report from WCPO Digital Wednesday said a city memo from last year indicated “no special event will be permitted to halt, close, delay or otherwise disrupt streetcar service.”  

Provided / SORTA

Cincinnati officials could be looking to plug about a $500,000 hole in the streetcar operating budget.  

The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority, which will run the system, now estimates fare revenues will be about $675,000 a year.  That is less than an earlier estimate of $1 million.  

Part of the reduction could be in how fares are charged.  SORTA is planning for $1 for a two-hour pass.  Earlier studies were based on $1 per trip.

Jay Hanselman / WVXU

A Cincinnati Council Committee discussion about the streetcar Tuesday did not yield much in the way of decisions.

The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) says it has received proposals for operating the streetcar, but would not disclose how many or who bid, saying it can't do so under Federal Transit Administration protocols.

Rail Manager Paul Grether did explain how SORTA plans to present the best bids to Council using a "blind process."

Bill Rinehart / WVXU

Second Street is closed between Vine and Main as crews install a curved piece of streetcar track.  Project Executive John Deatrick says it will be closed for two weeks because of the complicated nature of the construction.

“Traffic is difficult, but this is technically very difficult work,” Deatrick says.  “Putting in expansion boxes that allow the rail to slip back and forth against each other but yet keep the streetcar on the tracks when you pass over a bridge expansion joint.”

Those joints allow for expansion and contraction during hot and cold weather. 

Provided / SORTA

Construction work continues on the first phase of the Cincinnati streetcar project despite lots of snow and cold temperatures.  Crews once again plan to work on track at a busy downtown intersection this weekend. 

Project executive John Deatrick said that construction has been delayed twice because of the weather.

“The rail will start Friday night at 7 p.m., Fifth Street will be closed because we can’t put the rail down half at a time in the intersection,” Deatrick said.  “We have to do the whole intersection at one go.”

Bill Rinehart / WVXU

Crews this week are putting up the overhead wires in Over-the-Rhine that will power the Cincinnati streetcar.  Crews worked Wednesday along Elm Street, between 14th and Henry.