Streetcar sees slow morning service, busy ridership first workday

CINCINNATI -- We could call it "first-day jitters," but officials chalk it up to traffic.

The Cincinnati Bell Connector streetcar saw some delays Monday morning, on its first day of revenue service. That's according to Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority spokeswoman, Brandy Jones, who said Monday morning saw delays of 20 minutes or so at its stops around The Banks, Downtown and Over-the-Rhine.

The streetcar opened Friday to passenger service, with a 12-minute headway on weekdays, 15 minutes on the weekend. During its first morning commute hour, the streetcar proved a little slow.

But Jones also said the solution was as simple as adding another streetcar to the road. The Cincinnati Bell Connector has five vehicles, but one or two are almost always kept in reserve in the case of a mechanical or traffic problem.

The case Monday was traffic, Jones said.

"Earlier this morning there were up to 20-minute delays due to heavy traffic and congestion in Downtown," Jones said. "However, we added another streetcar vehicle to the route to help alleviate the delays."

By midday, the streetcar was back up to normal schedule.

Riders observed the delay and attributed it to congestion along the Main Street corridor near the federal building and Government Square, which is also a thoroughfare used heavily by Cincinnati Metro buses.

Jones also said that Monday morning's hiccup followed a successful opening weekend. Reports of crowded stops and busy streetcar vehicles circulated all through the weekend. It's a trend Jones said she still observed into opening day of revenue service, saying ridership continued to be "full."

"Ridership is looking great on the first day of revenue service," she said.

But the notion of growing pains is not unheard of and should be anticipated when it comes to new transit systems, according to rail advocate and southwest Ohio regional director of All Aboard Ohio, Derek Bauman. 

"I’m confident that those will get worked out," he told WCPO. "What’s clear is that people love the system and want it to be as frequent and efficient as possible," referring to the complaint Monday morning that it didn't arrive quickly enough for those waiting at the stops.

Jones said the transit authority is still waiting on ridership numbers from opening weekend, but called it "successful."

The Cincinnati Bell Connector makes 18 stops throughout Over-the-Rhine, Downtown and The Banks, charging $1 for two hours or $2 for 24-hours of service.

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