Right out of the gate Ryan Messer exclaimed "Cincinnati - it’s about to get RAIL!" to a rambunctious and enthusiastic crowd.
Whats next for the streetcar? Three city and community leaders were there to detail just what is going on. Vice Mayor David Mann was first up. He came right out and threw a few fellow council members under the bus. Vice Mayor Mann is getting tired of the continual untrue statements that the streetcar is flawed because the fare box won't cover expenses. of course not he said, and it shouldn't be expected too. The reality he pointed out, is gas taxes don't come close to paying for city streets. Vice Mayor Mann is convinced that within 3-5 years the additional taxes the streetcar is pulling into the city will easily cover its expenses. Expenses that right now are 0.085% of the city budget.
Next up was Eric Avner, the CEO at People's Liberty. Mr Avner laid out his plans for a new nonprofit, the Cincinnati Street Railway. For a little backstory the Cincinnati Street Railway was the public operator of Cincinnati's streetcars from 1859 to 1952. In keeping with other People's Liberty goals, CSR will focus solely on community engagement. Among the CSR's focus will be maximizing ridership. If you increase ridership Mr. Avner feels, everything else will follow. With more people comes more money and more investment and jobs.
Last but definitely not least was the Godfather of the modern Cincinnati streetcar Mr. John Schneider. Mr. Schneider started out talking about how investments along the line are years ahead of projections. And how Cincinnati's streetcar system is one of the best designed systems in the country. There are professional anti-rail speakers that tour the country bashing streetcars. Yet they've avoided Cincinnati. Can this be an implicit endorsement Mr. Schneider wondered. Mr. Schneider also noted that there is still plenty of time for skeptics to jump on the streetcar bandwagon.
The actual streetcars will arrive in September.
The trackwork will be complete in October.
A dead pull will commence in late October running late at night. A streetcar will be towed around the loop checking clearances, including the streetcar stops and trees and what ever else hangs out over or projects into the streets.
By the end of the year it will be getting very rail indeed!
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