Cincinnati’s streetcar resumes full service after OTR building demolition

The service interruption temporarily halted the streetcar’s post-pandemic ridership surge.
The Cincinnati Bell Connector at the Banks stop in Downtown Cincinnati.
The Cincinnati Bell Connector at the Banks stop in Downtown Cincinnati.(Brian Planalp/WXIX)
Published: Jul. 1, 2022 at 6:05 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Cincinnati’s streetcar is back running its full route Friday nearly three weeks after a partial building collapse confined the transit system to its Over-the-Rhine loop.

The June 12 partial collapse of the Davis Furniture Building at 12th and Main streets in Over-the-Rhine barred the Cincinnati Bell Connector from its Downtown Cincinnati loop.

The partial collapse required full demolition of the Davis Furniture building, closing Main Street to northbound traffic above Central Parkway while crews used the street as a staging area for debris removal.

The demolition of the Davis Furniture building in Over-the-Rhine confined the Cincinnati Bell...
The demolition of the Davis Furniture building in Over-the-Rhine confined the Cincinnati Bell Connector to its OTR loop for nearly three weeks.(Brian Planalp/WXIX)

The collapse had some, including city officials, accusing the building owner, Stough Development Corp., of demolition-by-neglect, according to our media partners at the Enquirer. Stough’s chairman, Michael Stough, told The Enquirer he’s “livid” about the claim and called it “insulting.”

The streetcar’s service interruption likely halted a post-pandemic surge in ridership.

The system started 2022 with five consecutive months of record-setting ridership, with April’s count up 84 percent over the same month in 2020, according to transit advocate Brad Thomas.

Average ridership was up for every day of the week over pre-pandemic levels, Thomas says.

The ridership surge is due in part to Cincinnati City Council’s September 2020 decision to make the system free.

The change has improved headways and increased reliability for residents of the area, weekenders from around the region and out-of-town tourists alike.

Still, supporters of the long-maligned transit system say more changes are needed, such as bolstered signal prioritization at some intersections and transit-only lanes through busy thoroughfares like Walnut and Main streets south of Central Parkway.

Track blockages, such as by parked delivery trucks and emergency vehicles, also remain an issue. So far in 2022, there have been 746 such blockages, up from 716 at the same time last year.

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