Thursday, March 4, 2010

Pushing for Union Terminal

Just noticed this article in the Cincinnati Enquirer from yesterday. In a great move for the City of Cincinnati, City Council voted to push for Union Terminal as the temporary and permanent station for the 3C train. People are starting to realize that Lunken airport would not be a good place for a train station. Furthermore, there is a feeling that if the City continues to put off working on Union Terminal then nothing will ever be done. As part of a Metro Moves 2010 plan, Union Terminal would be the station that services the 3C train and the City needs to figure out funding sources to make this project happen.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Cincinnati Subway makes a Glorious Comeback

This article from the good folks at Soapbox Cincinnati highlights a study conducted by OKI a couple of years ago to figure out the usefulness of the abandoned Cincinnati subway tunnels. The study concluded that the tunnels could still be used for future light rail and subway projects but would require some investment to fix deterioration and update stations. Clearly these tunnels and stations can be built into a new Metro Moves 2010 plan that finally puts them to use and expands them with light rail into downtown Cincinnati. Heck, why not make another transit project useful for once and adapt the lines to converge on the Riverfront Transit Center? This can all be built into Metro Moves 2010. 3C train to Union Terminal, light rail through the subway tunnels to the Riverfront Transit Center, Eastern Corridor Train from Milford to Lawrenceburg through the Riverfront Transit Center, and suburban trains following the interstates out from Cincinnati. Add in motorcycle and bicycle only parking and right of way lanes as well as a streetcar to get around downtown and uptown once you get off the train and the future of Cincinnati begins to shine brightly.

2-wheeled Friends

Any new introduction of Metro Moves in 2010 of course must include accommodations for 2-wheeled vehicles. This is near and dear to my heart as I myself drive a motorcycle for most of the year. Downtown Cincinnati is equipped with motorcycle parking areas, which need to remain free. What better way to motivate people to ditch their car and drive a scooter or motorcycle than to say "Hey, it's FREE!"? As pointed out in this article from UrbanCincy last year, the transportation department needs to hear from citizens on this program. As they consider new locations and whether or not to charge fees, it is vital for people like you and me to let them know what we think. For starters, expand the parking at Walnut and 6th street. It is by far the most popular spot but only has space for 5 maybe 6 motorbikes.

We also can't forget non-motorized two-wheel driving. This article from Soapbox Cincinnati highlights the fact that Northside will be the first neighborhood in Cincinnati to benefit from on street bicycle parking. Again, this something that the transportation department needs to hear from citizens about. I ride a bicycle to class during the Spring quarter and would have considered riding downtown for work if I didn't have to ride back up Ravine St. hill.

Any re-incarnation of Metro Moves needs to be mindful and open to making alternate forms of transportation an important part of the plan.

Like-minded Adventurers

CincyStreetcar Blog has an entry on the relationship between building transit and jobs.

Metro Cincinnati is a website/blog on transit in Cincinnati and the author sets forth a plan for a regional transit system. (See Above) The website includes some very well-developed visuals and models.

3C train - Cost, Concern, Credibility

This article from the Enquirer in mid-February highlights several of the concerns over the 3C train. As I have mentioned on this blog before, I am worried about the 3C train. Mainly the cost and the economic feasibility. This editorial highlights many of the points I have mentioned before. We need to make sure this something we can afford in the short term and the long term. Furthermore, if this train is coming to Cincinnati it needs to be coming to Union Terminal. Then perhaps there will be a need for a streetcar to get people from Union Terminal to downtown central. The funding for the train was approved with Lunken airport as the temporary station and Ohio will have to appeal to the federal government to change that. Write to your legislators and call City Council. This station needs to be at Union Terminal or at least in the vicinity.

Metro Moves vs. Paul Brown Stadium

"Metro Moves, a plan to build five light rail lines across Hamilton County, a modern streetcar line from downtown to UC to Walnut Hills, three commuter rail lines to distant suburbs, and activate Cincinnati's abandoned subway tunnel fails at the polls in 2002."

While I could not vote at this time and I wasn't living in the City of Cincinnati, I would most certainly have voted for this over Paul Brown Stadium (which I couldn't vote on either). I feel like Metro Moves would have had the better long-term impact. This City really needs to get things together. The potential is there, it just needs to flourish. More often than not though, the people from Cincinnati don't realize the amazing city they have grown up in. I am looking to write an op-ed article as part of my media campaign for class and plan to focus on Paul Brown vs. Metro Moves.

The past or the future? Let's hope for the future.

Portland: Mecca of the US?

Above is the envisioned Cincinnati Streetcar + Light Rail system. When I here about these kinds of projects I am truly excited for the future of Cincinnati but one way to turn me off from the start is to mention Portland. Just because the Cincinnati MSA sits right next to the Portland MSA in terms of population that doesn't mean what works in Portland will work in Cincinnati. Basing an argument for the Cincinnati Streetcar or light rail based on Portland is a flawed argument and one I will not stand to listen to. Portland does not have the blessing nor the challenge of diversity that we face in Cincinnati. In fact, for the better part of the last century only 8% of Portland's population has been African American. Over 80% of the residents in the Portland MSA are white, which makes for a very homogeneous population. Furthermore, Portland is a much newer, less developed city than Cincinnati. When I say less developed I mean historically not economically. Add in the fact that the Portland area has adopted a Regional government and has a higher overall income per capita than Cincinnati and you begin to see why arguments based on Portland are flawed.

I care about Cincinnati, not Portland. We need to be revisiting Metro Moves not the Portland streetcar.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Hitchhiking to Cleveland

This article from the News Record last month highlights the $400 million grant Ohio received to start on the 3C passenger rail system. The article reports that the trains will reach speeds up to 79mph and generate $12.2 million a year in revenue and spur the creation of 8,000 new jobs. What the article doesn't mention is the fact that the train will actually average 39mph, rarely reaching the 79mph. That means it will take 6 and 1/2 hours to get to Cleveland from Cincinnati! Furthermore, at a cost of $25-$30 ONE-WAY to Columbus from Cincinnati, who will be riding this? This is the package that is supposed to appeal to people? Five hours spent in transit to Columbus for a cost of $50?! It doesn't make economic sense.

While $400 million is nice, the estimated cost for the initial phase (running off of already existing freight lines) stands at $564 million. With the potential for a $8 billion budget deficit in the state of Ohio, where is the extra $164 million supposed to come from? We can't rush into something that simply isn't feasible in its current form. We can't build something we can't afford. We need a plan like Metro Moves which sets out ways to come up with the revenue for a transit system.

Prototype for my Urban Lobbying Class.

Metro Moves

Below is one of the Metro Moves maps presented in the Transit and Transportation meetings at the neighborhood summit. It represents what the City's transportation department still hopes to accomplish. They also still hope to accomplish something with the streetcar as well. While the streetcar appears to be a dead end for now. I think there may be some traction for a new Metro Moves, especially since Metro Moves contains its own funding source; a one-half cent sales tax levy or around $39.50 per person per year in Hamilton County.

Monday, March 1, 2010