The Southwest Ohio Green Party announced today that it supports the passage of Issue 9 in the November election. Its position is based, in part, over concerns the party has about whether Cincinnati’s proposed $102 million streetcar system is an effective economic development tool.—-
In a statement released by Green Party convener Joshua Krekeler, party members also said the proposed streetcar route is located along some of the Metro bus system’s busiest routes.
“The Southwest Ohio Green Party encourages voters to vote ‘yes’ on Issue 9, the Cincinnati ballot initiative that would require the city to hold a public vote before spending money on a streetcar or other passenger rail system,” it states.
“We have serious doubts about Cincinnati City Council's proposed streetcar plan. The Green Party supports urban mass transit plans that serve populations that need better transit service,” the statement continues. “The streetcar route would closely overlap existing transit service, and the city would have to fill the gap between fare revenue and the system's annual operating costs. This would place additional strain on the city's budget and could damage public perception of all passenger rail systems.”
The party believes other economic development projects should take precedence over streetcars.
“We question the assumption that the streetcar plan is a cost effective economic development project. We encourage City Council to focus on capital projects that will satisfy existing needs, particularly in lower-income communities,” it states. “The city should also pursue neighborhood-based development opportunities with a lower cost risk than the streetcar project. Investments with a proven record of success should be given a higher priority when deciding how to use limited public funds.”
If approved, Issue 9 would require a public vote on any rail-related project that goes through Cincinnati and uses city taxpayer money including the streetcar system and the proposed high-speed rail connector with Columbus and Cleveland advanced by President Obama.
Green Party leaders dislike the amendment’s broad impact but said it’s still worthwhile.
"We would prefer that the charter amendment on the ballot this fall were related only to the proposed streetcar plan,” according to the statement. “However, we also believe that citizens should be able to vote directly on major public expenses, and on this streetcar plan specifically.”