Cincinnati City Council’s Major Transportation and Regional Cooperation Committee during a Jan. 5 meeting approved streetcar operating hours presented by the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority. Council is likely to give final approval to the schedule as soon as Jan. 6.
If approved, the streetcar will run Monday through Thursday from 6:30 a.m.-midnight and from 6:30 a.m.-1 a.m. on Friday. On Saturday, the cars will run the 3.6-mile loop through Over-the-Rhine and downtown from 8 a.m.-1 a.m. On Sundays and holidays, the transit vehicles will run from 9 a.m.-11 p.m.
The cars will run every 12 minutes during peak operating hours, which SORTA suggests will be Monday through Friday 11 a.m.-7 p.m. All other times, the cars will run every 15 minutes.
“We tried to build a schedule that would address a lot of concerns,” said SORTA’s director of rail services Paul Grether, referring to input from past City Council meetings and public forums.
Those concerns mostly revolved around consistent start times for the vehicles, hours early enough for commuters to get to work and late operating hours to serve patrons of bars and restaurants in OTR and downtown.Earlier suggestions for operating hours started later and ended earlier, except on weekends, when it would have run until 2 a.m.
Council members on the committee seemed satisfied with the schedule.
“We’ve had people downtown from the bars and nightlife places who have said how they’d like it to stay open late,” Transportation Committee Chair Amy Murray said at the Jan. 5 meeting. “And we’ve also talked to early-morning businesses to see what time the peak morning time is. I think this really sets it up.”
SORTA officials say seasonal schedules are possible, if necessary, and that data will be collected to track ridership trends. Three or four times a year, the transit agency will decide whether hours need to be adjusted.
One thing riders shouldn’t count on — catching a ride on the streetcar after closing down the bar.
Bars’ 2 a.m. closing time was a concern brought up by some in public hearings, but late-night partiers will have to take a cab or use a ride-sharing service.
“This is not, for lack of a better word, a drunk bus,” Councilwoman Yvette Simspon said.