Friday, May 9, 2008

Cincinnati City Council approves trolley boondoggle

On April 23, Cincinnati City Council approved a claimed $185 million plan (click here) for a trolley plan to run passenger rail cars from the Riverfront to Over-the-Rhine and then to the "uptown" area. In 2002, Hamilton County voters rejected a broader proposed light rail plan by a 68% - 32% margin, with more than 58% of Cincinnati voters rejecting that plan.

"Politicians never seem to learn," said COAST Chairman Jason Gloyd. "The voters have spoken and said as clearly as they can, they do not want passenger rail transportation in Cincinnati."

Already over-priced, COAST projects that the plan will cost Cincinnati more than $1 billion in tax dollars for capital and operating costs over its first ten years.

Voting against this profligate waste of money were Council members Monzel and Cranley. Voting in favor were Ghiz, Thomas, Qualls, Berding, Bortz, and Crowley.


  1. The City's broke, where's this $100 million supposed to come from?

  2. Seems like an awful lot of money to spend on one neighborhood.

  3. It's not a trolley.

  4. For what it's worth, lists the following definition for "Trolley Car":

    The noun has one meaning:
    Meaning #1: a wheeled vehicle that runs on rails and is propelled by electricity
    Synonyms: streetcar, tram, tramcar, trolley

    We honestly thought they were the same thing.

    Perhaps Anonymous could provide a public service and explain the difference so we get it right next time.

  5. When you refer to it as "trolley" (outside of San Diego) you are giving the listener the impression of this:

    The project planned by the city doesn't use the term "trolley" and uses the term "streetcar", because that term is associated with something more like the following in most of the USA:

    Of course, you knew that, and that is why yours is the only organization to use the term "trolley". It is a literary mechanism that you can hide your intentions behind. I am also sure that you are aware that "" is not an authoritative source for information.

    In fact, try looking up both terms on merriam-webster's site (a much more authoritative source) and you will see the difference:

  6. Coleman,
    Pro-streetcar people crack me up. This is the 5th or 6th time we've been barbecued over the term "trolley," but never once has anyone taken exception to the term "boondoggle." What does that say?

    Second sentence of your 1st source reads, "In many cities, streetcar systems (also termed tramcar, trolley or trams) using original vintage vehicles..." Your source equates the 2 terms; yet we're meanies for using one term over the other.

    Your 2nd source begins "The Green Line is a light rail/streetcar system run by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) in the Boston, Massachusetts area of the United States. It is the oldest line of Boston's subway, which is known locally as the 'T'. The Green Line runs underground downtown and on the surface in outlying areas." I suppose the "T" stands for "streetcar", not "trolley", huh? Are streetcars the same as light rail and subways? That passage seems to say so.

    Thankfully, your dictionary references were more illuminating. Apparently "trolley" derives from the overhead wire rig, and "streetcar" is more appropriate when describing the passenger vehicle. Both terms still seem applicable to the overall system which employs both wires and vehicles.

    But, since you're so sensitive about it, and because I respect your good intentions (even though I disagree with your goal), I will henceforth refer to this project by "streetcar", not "trolley." Other COASTers will, of course, use whatever terminology they're most comfortable with. Given the long history of trollies in Cincinnati, it probably won't be the term you favor.

    Happy now?

  7. Sad there is some much confusion about the terminology, but even sadder that people think this will just benefit "one neighborhood". Unless their definition includes all of Cincinnati, in which case I agree. Do either of the stadiums just benefit one neighborhood? Does the Contemporary Art Center or the Taft Museum just benefit one neighborhood?? Getting functional, not to mention non-polluting, and quiet mass transit to the urban core of our city will benefit our WHOLE community. And help to bring a vibrancy to this city that has been tarnishing for too many years.

  8. Mark, thanks for your agreement to change terminology. I seriously wish that the larger WeDemandAVote coalition partners would be as interested as you are in considering others' point of view on the matter.

    As for the comment about the Boston "T", the "T" stands for the "T" in the MTA abbreviation for "Massachusetts Transit Authority" (now known as MBTA), and is not related to Streetcars or Trolleys. In fact, the "T" is used to refer to the entire regional system (Commuter Rail, Light Rail, Streetcars, and Busses).

    It is too bad that you've not done more research on Boston's system. Their "Green Line" system is one of the oldest in the country, and has had various segments swapped between Streetcar and Bus service over its history, according to development needs in the areas in and around the western side of Boston and the city of Brookline.

    Another point I'd like to make is that the city actually has plans to expand the system to cover more of the city. If the system works really well, then it gets expanded. If it doesn't work very well, then we can determine what to do at that point. The right-of-way used for the project can always be returned back to the "almighty bus" if we so desire. The assets can even be sold off to reclaim some of the initial investment.

    The point is they are actually trying something, and this something has worked in many other places. This project isn't without many examples of precedent across the country, and Cincinnati has limited options to invest in higher-density infrastructure to grow the city. They seem to be taking a reasonably responsible approach that can even be undone if it turns out not to work out as well, or if it works out so well as to replace the system with an even higher-density transit service (like subway or light-rail).

  9. By the way, "boondoggle" is a silly term (in my opinion), and I don't really care if you use it.

    Honestly, considering the age of the term, I think it presents the appearance that you guys are a bunch of conservative old timers.

    I know that is likely not the case, but the term "boondoggle" is just something I'd expect to see on the side of an authentic "bandwagon".

    Anyhow, it's use is completely subjective and I don't really have any reason to attack your use of it. You think the project is a "boondoggle", so you use the word, case closed.


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