For $1,250, you can now charter a Cincinnati streetcar for four hours

Catering is permitted, but there's one catch

CINCINNATI -- Planning a party? Got $1,250 burning a hole in your pocket?

The Southwest Regional Transit Authority has a deal for you!

SORTA is offering the public the chance to privately charter Cincinnati's newest public transportation option: Cincinnati Bell Connector streetcar vehicles. With as little as one week's notice, a streetcar vehicle can be chartered for $1,250 for four hours. Each additional hour will cost $285, with partial hours rounded up.

"It's customary in many cities for streetcars to be available for private charter," SORTA spokeswoman Sallie Hilvers said. "So whether you're talking historic streetcars in New Orleans or some of the more modern streetcars, this is something that's permitted under the federal transportation guidelines."

Although there haven't been any takers yet, SORTA is already receiving inquiries from business associations and people interested in wedding-related events aboard a streetcar vehicle, such as showers and receptions. Catering is permitted, but food and beverage permits must be presented to SORTA in advance of the event.

Before anyone gets too excited: No glass or alcoholic beverages are permitted aboard streetcar vehicles, which could make for a dull wedding reception.

"That may be a factor in some people's decision in whether to do this or not," Hilvers admitted," but with us, it's safety first."

Streetcar vehicles have enough seating room for about 38 people, and SORTA suggests having no more than 75 riders aboard at a time.

The charterer of a streetcar sets the boarding and drop-off locations for the streetcar, and multiple drop-off locations can be designated. The streetcar can be scheduled to pick up groups at specific times.

A chartered streetcar won't disrupt the operations of streetcars serving the public, Hilvers said.

"When the regular service is operating, the streetcar would be scheduled to be part of the rotation, but it would be for exclusive use just of the people chartering it," Hilvers explained. "It wouldn't disrupt service whatsoever -- in fact, it's not permitted to disrupt service in any way."

SORTA has not yet actively marketed the opportunity to charter a streetcar vehicle, but it will be "more broadly communicated" after the streetcar's Sept. 9 grand opening, Hilvers said.

The Cincinnati Bell Connector streetcar system runs on a 3.6-mile loop between Over-the-Rhine and the downtown Central Business District.

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