To help keep people updated on current events, Cincinnatians For Progress hosted their first Streetcar Social at The Lackman. Over 70 guests attended for discussion and drinks with streetcar advocate, John Schneider, and information sharing with those wanting to learn more. Among those in attendance were Cincinnati City Council candidate Mike Moroski, and campaign managers representing Councilmembers Chris Seelbach and Yvette Simpson.
This spring, City Manager Milton Dohoney announced that the project would need an additional $17 million to proceed due to inflation. Two failed ballot initiatives meant to derail the Cincinnati Streetcar, and the revocation of $51 million from the State of Ohio's TRAC have delayed the project for years and contributed to the increased cost.
While it is understandable to not award any project a blank check, the consequence of failing to invest $17 million in the Cincinnati Streetcar is having to lose $72 million in funds already spent, including Federal funds that have been allocated to Cincinnati. Additionally, the city would lose a Net Profit Value of $200 million in future opportunities that the streetcar would generate through development.
For more on what's at stake, check out this article on UrbanCincy.com or watch a video of the presentation that Milton Dohoney gave to City Council:
Some interesting talking points highlighted at the Streetcar Social included:
- No modern streetcar system has ever failed. In fact, every new streetcar system has added expansions in the past two years.
- Why can't we just buy a bunch of buses? Rail-based transportation cannot easily be moved. Neither can I-75 or the street in front of your house. The community value of transportation improvement is its permanence, not its flexibility. It represents investment.
- Streetcar bonds will be paid off with property taxes from higher values in the streetcar zone. New revenue based on payroll tax, sales tax, and local spending from thousands of new residents will be shared across all of Cincinnati's 52 neighborhoods.
- Streetcars promote repopulation. According to the last census, Cincinnati was losing eight residents a day. Fewer people means less taxpayers, which contributes to the city's budget deficit. In Tacoma, Seattle, and Portland, these cities' starter streetcar lines grew the population by an average of 47% between 2001 and 2010.
- If Cincinnati were to abandon the streetcar, the city may be viewed as an unreliable partner of the U.S. Department of Transportation. This could have minor implications for the new Brent Spence Bridge, and major implications for improving our bus system using Federal funds. It could also affect Cincinnati's chances of applying for federal funds with HUD and the EPA.
- Cincinnati is the only city in the Top 41 metropolitan areas in the U.S. that does not have rail transit. If the city were to walk away from the streetcar project now, it is likely that we will not implement light rail for another generation, thus putting us behind other cities in similar size and competitive nature.
Interested in staying up to date on the Cincinnati Streetcar? Follow Cincinnatians For Progress on Twitter and Facebook, or support them by making a donation to their non-profit organization.