CINCINNATI - One of the biggest problems that could threaten the Cincinnati streetcar's success is getting worse.
Numbers show the streetcar tracks are being blocked more than ever. That leads to many frustrating delays.
City council member Chris Seelbach thinks raising the fine – doubling or even quintupling it - might be a solution.
After all, just one car or delivery truck parked on the tracks can bring the entire streetcar system to a stop, Seelbach pointed out Thursday.
“The $150 million system - all five cars, the entire route –stops,” he told WCPO.
As delays add up, the concern is fewer people will ride the streetcar.
“Reliability of the streetcar - knowing it's coming every 12 to 15 minutes - is incredibly important, especially with people getting to work or on a lunch break or on a schedule,” Seelbach said.
But the number of blockages keeps getting worse. January saw 70 - most of any month so far.
Some blockages are expected – for instance, when the police or fire department shuts a street down.
But more than half of the stoppages are caused by cars, delivery trucks or buses.
“It's becoming more and more of a problem,” Seelbach said.
We wanted to see how bad that problem is, so we drove around the streetcar tracks looking for parking issues.
We found one car blocking part of the track. The driver moved right as the streetcar pulled up.
The fine for parking on the streetcar tracks is $50, but it doesn't seem to be an effective deterrent.
Seelbach wants to raise it to $100 or possibly $250.
“They may risk getting a $50 ticket. Hopefully $100 or $250 is enough of a penalty they won't do something illegal,” he said.
Most of the blockages are cleared in five minutes or less, but for those waiting, any delay may change their mind about riding the streetcar.
“People have to know they're not going to stand at a stop and wait 30 minutes,” Seelbach said.