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A site dedicated to Cincinnati's Over the Rhine neighborhood.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Streetcars "Under Fire"

The Cincinnati Enquirer ran two articles yesterday and today highlighting a new drive against the Streetcar System by the NAACP, Citizens Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST), WeDemandAVote and others. I'm not sure why the Enquirer felt it necessary to run two articles about this on two separate days, but it makes you wonder who they are looking out for.
Article 1 December 23, 2008
Aritlce 2 December 24, 2008
Regardless, the articles point out that these organizations are the same groups who were successful in blocking other city projects that they did not agree with in the past. They feel that the Streetcars are a waste of money and refer to them as "Choo-Choo Trains". They are trying to start a petition demanding that this issue be placed on the Nov. 2009 ballot so that it can be decided by popular vote.

We can not let this happen!

We already know that Hamilton county voters as a whole are against spending money on rail transit (Remember the Metro Moves Campaign?) because many of them are conservative, suburban dwelling people who have no interest in improving our City's urban core. Most of the opposition is ignorantly minded and overlooks all of the actual facts regarding the benefits of rail transit.
The streetcars are an investment in our city's urban core and are ESSENTIAL for making Cincinnati competitive for jobs, residents and new businesses. Our city's future well being depends on making the streetcars a reality.
Please take the time this week and next to send emails to our council members reminding them of how important the streetcar system is for our city and tell them how strongly you support their efforts to bring rail transit to Cincinnati.
Just copy and paste the links below to your email address book and start sending letters.
Our voices can have a HUGE impact on keeping the Streetcar Plan "on track."
Thank you for your cooperation!

City Council Emails:

City Manager Email:


NORTON said...

1.) The Enquirer article brought up the question of how "light rail" proposals should be introduced: through referenda (an issue to be voted on by all of us lovely Cincinnatians) or by a Charter Amendment in which the people don't necessarily have a say. The people featured in the article are arguing they should have a say in if the city should really spend $100 million on a streetcar system. I would pose a question to them: did we get to vote on how our tax dollars were spent by the federal government in their recent bailout packages to corporations? NO. Certain (economic) decisions are entrusted to our friends in the government, no matter how much that irks the masses of Americans who feel entitled to give an opinion of something way over their head.

2.) Here's another question: Do you care that billions of dollars are spent on expressway infrastructure? No? You don't? Well unlike your sprawling bullshit suburban development, Cincinnati's basin was created before cars ever existed. This makes public transit rather than expressways/thorofares a much more rational people-moving system for the historic city. Urban: public transit, Suburban: light rail to vehicular transit.

3.) I am not entirely sold on the idea of the streetcar system as it exists currently because I feel it is a purely political tool designed solely to benefit specific private interests who have invaded and influenced our once-democratic/for-the-people local government. Is anyone questioning why a regional light rail system has not been pushed forward to the same extent that the miniature streetcar line is being promoted? Streetcars (10 mph and local) and Light Rail (60+ mph and regional) are two entirely different things and we seem to confuse them quite a lot.

4.) What we need in this city is a better forum for discussion on these issues - transit and education funding in particular. We need to be able to engage in debate and proper communication to draw out the pros and cons of such major economic decisions. Maybe our politicians in the city are correct in believing the $100 million is best spent in a streetcar system. Either way, the media - newspaper and television - is no way to converse between political decisions and public interest. We won't all agree in the end, and certainly there will be specific vested interests in the reasoning behind such debates, but a civic conversation will go a long way toward creating an identity and sense of community that is currently lacking between the city and the surrounding suburbs.

Jason said...

Norton thank you for your input. It is much appreciated.
In answer to one of your questions #3 Why hasn't a regional rail system been pushed as hard as the downtown loop? Well, actually we already tried to set up a regional light rail system 6 or 7 years ago. It was called the metro moves campaign and would have set up an extensive regional light rail system in the area. It was to be funded by a 0.25% sales tax increase, but it was shot down by a conservative led campaign against it and it lost the vote by a landslide.
The hope is that by getting a smaller system installed first it will pave the way for future extensions as people realize the economic benefit of such an investment. Unfortunately we can not rely on hamilton county voters to help with this because they are just too conservative. This smaller system is the only way the city can get its feet through the door for rail transit. Its only a first step, but an important one.

NORTON said...

Jayson: I understand the Metro Moves campaign failed b/c it was introduced to the public way too late in the year...not enough time to garner enough public or political support. Oh, and also we have 49 political jurisdictions in Hamilton County...trying to squeeze a light rail system through all of these jurisdictions is next to impossible....

Quim said...

As I recall, the metromoves thing passed within the city limits but it failed big time outside the city.
This is strictly a city issue.

Jason said...

Yes, you are right Quim. Had the metromoves campaign been left to the city itself to decide it would have passed. But, the problem was with the rest of hamilton county refusing to pay a slightly higher sales tax (0.25%). This shows that the majority of the surrounding areas don't seem to understand the benefits of good, efficient rail transit for public transportation.
The streetcar is a city issue that should be decided on by our elected city officials. However, what people fail to see is that it will end up benefiting everyone, even the surounding suburbs. When a city's urban core is healthy and thriving, the region as a whole benefits from the thriving economy, new jobs, new residents, increased tax revenue, etc. etc. Not to mention that the city will be a more entertaining and fun place to visit with all the easy access to entertainment venues, restaurants, bars, etc. Its very hard to convince closed minded conservatives of this though.

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