Monday, August 31, 2009

Metro and Streetcar Services Would Complement Eachother

In a recent Cincinnati Enquirer article, Barry Horstman, questioned whether the construction and operation of the proposed modern streetcar would take away riders from the Queen City Metro bus service. COAST was quick to post on their blog a new segment calling streetcar supporters "snotty" and attempted to imply that streetcar supporters somehow feel those currently riding buses are "inferior." The folks at COAST went directly to name calling and generalizing instead of reading Mr. Horstman's article thoroughly. Here's what Queen City METRO had to say about the streetcar:
"We really see it being more complementary than competitive," said Sallie Hilvers, Metro's chief administrative officer. "We'd work with the streetcar operator to make sure we coordinate schedules so that the services don't overly duplicate each other."
So here we have METRO officials admitting that the streetcar could be a complimentary service. When asked about how the streetcar would affect ridership they said:
"And even if the streetcars produce a drop in Metro ridership, buses could be redirected to other routes needing additional service, Hilvers said."
The Horstman article sparked some heated debate within the comment section of COAST's post where COAST supporters continued continued the name calling, word twisting and generalizations. Long time COAST blog reader and supporter "Bris Chortz" posted this:
The poster that user "Bris Chortz" quoted was speaking of how buses can be delayed when accommodating passengers with restricted mobility or passengers who need to fasten their bicycles to the front rack of a bus. The poster was making a point of how modern streetcars do not require handicap ramps or bike racks, rather passengers in wheelchairs can roll right onto the streetcar straight from the curb and bikes can be brought onto cars that can hold up to 200 passengers at a time. The poster whom "Bris Chortz" attacked never mentioned excluding anyone, he made that up. Unfortunately, this is the level COAST and it's supporters feel they need to stoop to.

The streetcar is not a snobbish toy, it's an improved transit option that will be more appealing to attracting new ridership and promoting economic development along it's route all while complementing our current public transportation options for all citizens.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Did COAST Mislead Petition Signers? Citizens say: "Remove Our Signatures"

A snippet from the story by Channel 5 WLWT:
"CINCINNATI -- At least three people have asked the Hamilton County board of elections to remove their names from a petition that places a transit issue on November's ballot."

"Attorney Barbara Howard said she asked officials to remove her name because she believes she was misled by the man who collected her signature.

"The representation he made to me that this was in favor of streetcars," Howard said."

On message boards and blogs discussing the streetcar issue, there have been numerous claims and accusations stating that COAST might have been intentionally trying to mislead potential petition signers into thinking it was a pro-streetcar amendment. These quotes are from a large streetcar debate/discussion on
"The same tactics that some have gushed over in this thread previously - standing outside of bars to get intoxicated people to sign their 'trolley petition,' not mentioning to these same people that if you actually support the street car then you shouldn't sign"

"Streetcar *ahem* passenger rail petition guy is out from of arbys downtown (6th and Vine). I tried to convince people not to sign it. He is preying on the people near the bus stop."

"They are COMPLETELY misleading people into signing something much bigger than they are telling them. My sister-in-law was approached by one of these petition gatherers in Clifton the other day and she was simply asked "Would you like to sign the Trolley Petition?" Luckily for her she knew from me that this was actually the petition that would alter the city's charter amendment and she kindly said no."

"He was asking people if they were registered in the city, and then he would say "Would you like to sign a petition for the streetcar?". Most people just sign anything and with that type of wording it sounds like the petetion is pro-streetcar."

"I was in town this weekend for Easter, and went down to Findlay before heading to the Reds game on Saturday. I grabbed some food and saw a guy getting people to sign a petition "For the Streetcar". I went up and called him on it and I was able to get several people not to sign the petition after telling them he wants to stop the streetcar from being built. By using some clever language he was tricking people to sign it."
Until now these claims seemed to lack validity, however as the recent story from Channel 5 shows, it seems more and more citizens feel that they have been duped by COAST.

COAST's attorney Chris Finney stated in the article:
"This is really electioneering, politicking by our opponents, to suggest that," said Chris Finney, attorney for the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes. "There's nothing in the charter amendment that prevents anything; it requires a public vote."
Chris, buddy, I don't think these folks are trying to "politick" you, they're quite upset. They're upset because they believe you and COAST mislead them. It seems now that citizens are coming forward maybe the claims from Urban Ohio and others have some validity.

Perhaps COAST has been intentionally misleading petition signers?

If you feel you've been deceived and would like to inquire about having your signature removed from the petition, contact the Hamilton County Board of Elections.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Why go through Over-The-Rhine?

In our most recent post, "Addressing Common Streetcar Questions and Concerns," reader "Dungy" brought up a very good question/concern that seemed to be left out. His question regarded the routing of Cincinnati's proposed 7.9 mile streetcar line (The initially planned route would cost an estimated $124 Million, $185 Million if the initial line was extended towards the Cincinnati Zoo)
"The most common concerns about the streetcar are not "how does it work" or "who makes it". The most common concern, the one I've heard over and over is "why is it going through Over-The-Rhine"? "
While the proposed line (as it stands by it's most recent plan) would not travel solely through Over-The-Rhine, it's routing through a neighborhood that has been known in it's past for poverty and crime, has many understandably skeptical. The answer of "why" will be addressed in an upcoming post to be done in conjunction with another blog/site. Here's a sneak peek:
A composite image showing what a Modern Streetcar might look like traveling North on Elm St. through Over-The-Rhine.

Meanwhile, for an opinion on what some believe the benefits of a route through a revitalized OTR are, check out the Cincy Streetcar website:
"The benefits for the rest of the city will be considerable. A cleaner, safer Over-the-Rhine means more public resources can be used elsewhere. New residents, business, and rehabilitated buildings will result in new tax revenues that can be spent in all 52 neighborhoods. And revitalized, historic neighborhood will drive tourism and create jobs in Cincinnati. "
Full article: Over-The-Rhine and the Streetcar. Stay tuned for more!

Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions in the comment section.

Photo Credits: Jake Mecklenborg and Queen City Discovery. Composite image by Tairy Greene

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Addressing Common Streetcar Questions and Concerns

Why is it always Portland, Portland, Portland?

When it comes to the Cincinnati Streetcar it seems everyone always screams: "Portland, Portland, Portland." Why? Why is Portland so special? Well, in 2001 Portland completed it's 7.8 mile modern streetcar line, Cincinnati is proposing a 7.9 mile modern streetcar line using a similar right-of-way system and the same modern vehicles. Like in Portland, Cincinnati hopes to see new economic development and redevelopment of established areas along the streetcar's line. Portland saw this to great success, even having a formerly abandoned downtown rail yard spur into a an affordable neighborhood of retail and living space known as "The Pearl District." Their streetcar is so successful that a 3 mile extension is already underway and set to open soon, with another 6 mile extension proposed on top of that.

The Skylines of Cincinnati, Ohio and Portland, Oregon

What is the "Modern Streetcar" and how does it differ from the "trolley's" of days past?

Modern Streetcars, like the ones seen in Tacoma, Seattle and Portland seat approximately 170 to 200 passengers. The design Cincinnati would use for it's streetcars follows suit of these systems. Unlike the "trolley's" of our past, these modern streetcars are quiet, low to the ground and run seamlessly with automobile traffic in the same right-of-way.

Left: Cincinnati Streetcar of the past. Right: A "Modern Streetcar."

Who makes the "Modern Streetcar?"

The modern streetcars seen in Portland, Seattle and Tacoma are of a design by Czech company Skoda. These streetcar were made in Czechoslovakia and shipped to these American city's. In July 2009 Portland added to their fleet the first American made Modern Streetcar. Made by Oregon Iron Works, the Portland fleet's latest streetcar proves that not only do streetcars spur jobs and development along their route, but they are helping to put Americans to work in other capacities, further benefiting our domestic economy.

The crew at Oregon Iron Works unveils the first American Made modern Streetcar which is going into service in Portland in late 2009.

All of what you say is nice, but does it work?

Have a look for yourself:

Taken in 2002, this photograph shows the Portland Streetcar Stop at the Bridgeport Brewpub. The only business along the line at this point is the pub.

Five years later, in the same location as the above photograph the Brewpub has been extensively renovated and a new high rise residential condo is being build right along the line.

Again the same location, this time in 2008, new condo tower is complete, development has fostered.
Photos Credited to John Schneider of Pro-Tranist

New residential condo towers under construction along the streetcar route in Portland, OR.
Photo credit: The Phony Coney

In Charlotte, NC new restaurants, shopping centers and condos are already under construction along the streetcar route...and the streetcar's construction isn't even finished yet!
Photo Credit: Randy Simes of Urban Cincy

These artistic renderings show what a previously vacant building on Race St. in Cincinnati, Ohio will look like once Rookwood Pottery completes their move from Corryville to Over-The-Rhine. Located right on the proposed streetcar line, public relations manager Suzanne Blackburn says: "We think what's going on in Over-the-Rhine is really authentic – authentic architecture, authentic history, authentic tile. It just kind of fits in together, so we want to be a part of that. The hope is that we can, with Findlay Market, just have people come over to Rookwood and have kind of a walking neighborhood." Not even under construction yet and Cincinnati businesses are already lining up to be on the streetcar line!
Photo Credit: Building Cincinnati

We've seen it work elsewhere. We've seen how Cincinnati businesses are already lining up to be a part of it. The Cincinnati Streetcar is an innovative plan to revitalize and develop our downtown core while linking our two largest employment centers, uptown and downtown. In a time of economic uncertainty Cincinnati has the chance to step forward and emerge from the economic recession as an attractive location for business and development. The Cincinnati Streetcar is not just a step in the right direction for transit options, but a step in the right direction for Cincinnati.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

More lies from the good folks at COAST.

Fact Checking and Research Still Comes Hard for Local Special Interest Group.

I recently came across something I agreed with COAST on; Steve Driehaus. Unfortunately, the very next day COAST proved that even though I see eye-to-eye with them on one thing, they're still flat out liars when it comes to the streetcar issue.

On August 12, 2009 at 7:00 A.M. COAST linked to an editorial and claimed the Cincinnati Enquirer said to "Stop Trolley Proposal Dead in it's Tracks." Actually, though, the editorial says "Put Streetcar Project on Hold," not what COAST claimed. The editorial also notes that they "do not oppose a streetcar system," just feel that the project should be put on hold until there is a "solid economic outlook." Maybe if members of the COAST blog team had taken the time to read the Enquirer instead of making up quotes, they would have also seen that the Cincinnati Enquirer also considers their charter amendment to be a "Poison Pill" for Cincinnati.

Oh, but there's more!

Eight minutes later, in reference to Mayor Mallory's recent trip to Portland, COAST was back with more lies claiming: "COAST estimates that the City spent more than $10,000 in tax dollars on the junket." It should be noted though that again, had COAST taken the time to actually research the subject, and not just make up "estimates," they would have learned the trip was paid for by money inserted by a settlement with Duke Energy into the Businesses and Jobs Attraction Account (a total of $750,000 was inserted into the account), not a single tax payer dollar! They could have easily taken two minutes to read the Enquirer, like I did. However, that form of truth isn't convenient for COAST, so they'd rather make something up.

Even today the Cincinnati Enquirer (a paper that has traditionally endorsed conservative candidates the past few elections) and Cincinnati Business Courier question COAST's charter amendment and rightfully so. They've shown just how dangerous and ridiculous the proposed amendment is for this city.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Enquirer: Amendment is about 'less,' not 'more.'

Even if you're NOT a streetcar supporter, here's why you should oppose the COAST/NAACP backed passenger rail charter amendment!

Posted in the editorial section of our hometown newspaper, the Cincinnati Enquirer, is an honest writing about the dangers of the proposed COAST/NAACP backed passenger rail charter amendment. The editorial outlines that not only would the amendment most likely kill the streetcar project, but would keep Cincinnati out of consideration from other passenger rail projects that are being moved forward with by the federal and state governments to connect other major cities. Here's a little excerpt:
"A "Yes" vote on the Charter amendment effectively means "No" on the streetcar, but its faux-populist "let the people vote" cachet might draw support from people who otherwise might favor a streetcar. A "No" on the amendment, on the other hand, doesn't necessarily translate into streetcar support."
Now the Cincinnati Enquirer, who has traditionally not been a fan of the streetcar, is opposed to the dangerous and deceptive charter amendment proposed by special interest group COAST and their lawyer leader Chris Finney. Read the full editorial here and see the truth for yourself: 'Poison Pill' Amendment is About 'Less,' not 'More.'

Additionally, the Cincinnati Business Courier believes that from an economic and business standpoint, the Cincinnati Streetcar is: "Exactly the game changer Cincinnati needs."

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

COAST references Oklahoma City Bombing, claim's their political opponents are "crack heads."

But then again, what would you expect from an organization who teams up with an ex-councilman who liked to call our police officers "racist?"

In their most recent blog post, COAST questioned why citizens in Seattle (Seattle recently opened a new light rail line that is often highlighted by pro-streetcar advocates) held votes on their transit systems, yet here in Cincinnati we would not be voting on the proposed streetcar system to which eight of the nine council men and women support. I could go on for days as to why California style referendum voting isn't needed here in Cincinnati and why the COAST charter amendment is a joke. I've also covered extensively why the city of Portland voted on their streetcar system and why Cincinnati presently won't be (unless the proposed charter amendment passes). What it comes down to though is this:
  • In Portland and Seattle taxes were raised to cover the costs of their transit systems, so a vote was held to approve the raise in taxes.
  • In Cincinnati, your TAXES WILL NOT BE RAISED to fund the streetcar's construction.
COAST, on their blog today was quoted as saying: "Cincinnatians For Progress thinks you must be some kind of crack-head if you believe in voting on passenger rail transportation." The quote was linked to an article in which the progress group referred to referendum styled voting as the "crack cocaine of democracy," but never called any voter or citizen a "crack-head." That was COAST implying that you, the taxpaying public, must be the crackhead, right their on their blog. The COAST blog then proceeds to link to a blog post by The Phony Coney, saying: " won't lead to Timothy McVeigh-style truck bombs." Well, The Phony Coney never implied such a thing. A commenter on the blog drew some sort of analogy, but never claimed voting against the COAST charter amendment would lead to domestic terrorism. The last and final quote of the day from the COASTers was this little gem: So tell CFP to shove their so-called "progress" up their crack-pipe and smoke it. I'll let that quote alone right there to attest to COAST's maturity and professionalism, or lack there of. These gentleman are adults?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Petitions Submitted to City Council

Today, special interest group COAST issued their anti-rail charter amendment to the City of Cincinnati City Council. Calling it the "demand for a vote," the charter amendment would require a public vote on any passenger rail project within the city limits of Cincinnati. This widespread amendment would not only complicate the proposed streetcar project, but could significantly set back Cincinnati from being part of the proposed 3C rail corridors and federal high speed rail projects. COAST claims it's just about "demanding a vote," but COAST is more interested in only demanding a vote for initiatives their special interest group supports. 

Keep in mind, your taxes aren't being raised to pay for the proposed streetcar, yet COAST claims to be against the plan on the grounds that they are an "anti-tax" group. COAST doesn't seem to have a problem with our local politicians spending our tax dollars on highway and road projects that continue to mushroom in cost and construction time. For years, our taxes have gone to pay for, maintain, improve and expand our roadways while anti-tax group COAST sat idly by when these projects became the "boondoggles" they claim to fear. Yet, as soon as a Streetcar (which many reputable sources agree is a smart economic investment and catalyst for this city) is proposed, COAST is all up in arms. This self proclaimed "conservative" group even kicked their values to the curb and teamed up with the likes of "Chris Smitherman," a man who called our brave police officers "racists" while he was in city council.

COAST only demands a vote when it's convenient for them. Well, to Mr. Mark Miller, Chris Finney,  Jason Gloyd and Chris Smitherman: Sorry to say it, that's not how democracy works. You don't get to pick and chose which projects you want to vote for, you elect representatives to do it for you. It's how our government was founded.

When it comes time for federal stimulus funds to be given out for rail projects and as the 3C corridor rail project becomes more and more likely, the federal and state government aren't going to sit by and say "Oh hey, we'll wait a few months for Cincinnati to vote on it." They'll just pass us on by and we'll have COAST and Chris Smitherman to thank for once again keeping us "twenty years behind the times."


Further reading: