Smitherman calls to temporarily suspend streetcar operations

Posted at 1:29 PM, Mar 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-29 13:35:19-04

CINCINNATI — As city officials continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, Cincinnati's vice mayor Chris Smitherman called for the Cincinnati Bell Connector to temporarily suspend operation on Sunday.

"We cannot justify any loss of jobs while continuing to operate the streetcar at this level of ridership," Smitherman wrote in a news release. "I ask the administration to examine this, and all other non-essential spending, for the duration of the emergency situation."

Disruptions in our budget will require difficult decisions to be made. We MUST prioritize our core services and city workers!

— Christopher Smitherman (@voteSmitherman) March 29, 2020

Smitherman wrote that daily streetcar ridership has fallen from an average 1,400 riders a day to around 250 riders since the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to data from the city's website though, daily streetcar ridership between Feb. 1, and March 10 has not fallen below 500 riders. More recent ridership numbers are not yet available.

This call comes two days after Mayor John Cranley said the city faces layoffs and budget cuts thanks to COVID-19.

Cranley did not speak to how many people would be laid off or how much would be cut after City Councilmember Chris Seelbach tweeted that the city administration is projecting a $60 million to $80 million deficit in the general fund. Seelbach said the deficit would require "cutting important jobs and services by June 30."

"It is very important at this time to send the message that we are doing everything in our power to mitigate any job loss for our great city workers," Smitherman wrote Sunday. "The motion to temporarily suspend streetcar operations is simpy a 90 day pause."