CINCINNATI — The streetcar hasn't seen as many riders as it saw this weekend since it opened in September 2016.
The Cincinnati Bell Connector counted 14,670 rides on Oct. 12, the third night of the BLINK art and light festival that spanned from Over-the-Rhine, through Downtown and The Banks, and into Covington, Kentucky. Throughout the rest of the event, Thursday saw 7,587 rides; Friday saw 10,387; and Sunday saw 10,551.
Excluding opening weekend, Saturday marked the highest ridership day in the streetcar's history.
The festival brought an estimated 1 million visitors between Thursday and Sunday.
Throughout the weekend, the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority estimated more than 43,000 people rode the streetcar, exceeding typical monthly ridership levels -- closer to 40,000 rides -- over the course of four days. In 2017, during Cincinnati's first BLINK event, the streetcar saw just shy of 27,000 rides.
In addition to the BLINK-visitor crowds swelling along the streetcar route, it was also free to ride during the event. It was not free to ride -- nor did police shut down streets along the streetcar route -- during the 2017 event.
The only weekend in its operation that saw more streetcar riders was its opening weekend, Sept. 9-11, 2016. That weekend saw more than 50,000 rides, with more than 18,000 rides its first day. It was also free to ride that weekend.
Since its opening weekend, the streetcar has struggled to maintain projected ridership levels for a variety of reasons, ranging from delayed arrivals to mechanical problems with the vehicles to a complicated fare purchasing process.