CINCINNATI — Council member Amy Murray asked the transit authority’s rail director to repeat himself during Tuesday's transportation committee meeting, as he announced when the much-anticipated streetcar would open for service.
“Please say that again, and slowly… We have a date?” Murray said jokingly (but maybe only half-jokingly).
Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority Rail Director Paul Grether smiled and repeated himself, telling Murray and the committee she chairs that full service along the streetcar's Downtown and Over-the-Rhine loops would begin Sept. 9.
Grether called the launch date “the plan,” and reminded council members that this assumes all details fall into place without any hitches.
In a committee meeting earlier this month, SORTA spokesperson Sally Hilvers said the launch would include a weekend’s worth of events, including visits from local, federal and international officials, activities at Washington Park, and collaborations with ArtsWave.
The weekend would also provide riders the opportunity to purchase a commemorative token, which would cover fares for the entire first week of service, for $10.
As of earlier this month, advanced streetcar revenue sales on Founders' Club cards had surpassed $60,000, officials said, and ink was drying on nearly $100,000 in on-vehicle advertising contracts. In its most recent streetcar funding request to the city, SORTA officials accounted for an estimated $675,000 in fare revenue for the first full year of operation, with about another $106,000 in sponsorship (non-ad) revenue.
“We’ve been working very aggressively,” Hilvers said during that meeting.
According to the project’s timeline, this meets the streetcar program’s goal of a Sept. 2016 launch-date.
Some worried that delays in the five modern streetcar vehicles’ arrival from the CAF USA manufacturing plant in New York through the fall and winter months would delay the system's launch in September, and city officials announced the administration would withhold more than $500,000 from the manufacturer due to missed delivery deadlines.