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City Council To SORTA: Fix Ongoing Streetcar Problems

The Cincinnati Bell "Connector."  The company paid $340,000 per year for 10 years for naming rights.
Jay Hanselman
The Cincinnati Bell "Connector." The company paid $340,000 per year for 10 years for naming rights.

A Cincinnati Council majority is asking administrators to determine if the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority and its vendors are in default under the operating agreement for the streetcar system.  

The five members who voted for the motion are concerned about ongoing problems with ticket vending machines and how many cars operate during large, special events.  

Council member Amy Murray is asking that SORTA and those vendors attend a meeting next month.

"We want answers on the ticket vending machines, and if the ticket vending machine company needs to be here, if we need to fire them and start new, whatever it takes," Murray said. "But it's been a year, this is just way too long. Then we also need to talk about who is handling how many streetcars we have out. It's got to be handled."

Council Member Chris Seelbach pointed to the dispute between the city and SORTA involving the 12 to 15 minute intervals for streetcars to arrive at stations in Downtown and Over-the-Rhine.

"There's just a general disagreement over the contract, which means it needs to be litigated," Seelbach said. "I mean that's the only way to solve the discrepancy between the two parties. I'm just confused about why we haven't done that sooner."

The operating agreement includes a dispute resolution process.  That would have to happen before any lawsuit is filed.

Meanwhile, Assistant City Manager John Juech said the city is working to improve parking enforcement along the streetcar route to prevent illegal parkers from delaying streetcar service.

"Actually, August was the best month to date in terms of blockages, we've seen a real reduction in the blockages," Juech said. "And we've gotten really targeted in terms of where we know the blockages have occurred, what times of day, and really patrolling and monitoring those."

Streetcar ridership dipped to about 55,000 boardings in August compared to nearly 63,000 in July.


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Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.