Streetcar now free to ride as council overrides Cranley veto

Streetcar now free to ride as council overrides Cranley veto
City Council does have a chance to meet on Wednesday to override Mayor Cranley’s veto. (Source: WXIX)

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - The streetcar is running with passengers for the first time since March — and now it’s free.

After Mayor John Cranley vetoed an ordinance in committee Tuesday that would have made the downtown connector free to ride, city council overrode that veto in session Wednesday afternoon.

According to FOX19 NOW’s media partners at the Enquirer, the ordinance, approved by a 7-2 council vote, authorizes fare-free streetcar service, suspends any city laws that require fare payments for the streetcar and declares council’s intent to provide free fares permanently.

Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman and Council Member Betsy Sundermann voted against the ordinance.

The streetcar operates from 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday and Sundays 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Masks are required on board.

Another proposal, this advanced by Cranley and voted down by council Tuesday and again Wednesday, would have used streetcar fares for public safety purposes.

The mayor never clarified how the plan would have worked, as operational costs for the system are likely to be negative. That is, it takes near the amount of money to collect fares as fares bring in, a long-held gripe among streetcar supporters — together with the system’s byzantine fare machines and poor traffic engineering — even prior to the pandemic.

Critics and council members decried the mayor’s proposal as a political stunt born from animus rather than a practical solution to the pressing problem of gun violence.

Council member David Mann referred to the mayor’s revenue figures as “bogus” and “a waste of time” on Tuesday.

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