Monday, December 7, 2009

Trolleys Get Trapped in Snow, But Buses Roll

The CincyStreetcar blog is falsely implying that streetcars have no problems in snowy conditions, and cites Toronto as a case in point. Like most overly-rosy predictions regarding trolleys, the truth is altogether different.

Last season one snowstorm dumped 15.75" of snow on Toronto creating transit mayhem:
"The extra snow is forcing people to park closer to the middle of the road, sometimes unknowingly impeding the progress of the electric trolleys, which are tethered to wires overhead and can't swerve around them.

And now they're getting tough on anyone who gets in their way, promising to tow you if you don't keep the route clear. The TTC admits there has to be a better way for the Better Way, but they haven't found one.

"So far on McCaul alone, we had about 13 vehicles in a matter of an hour and a half," complains TTC spokesman Mario Jurinic. They're asking you to park at least a foot and a half away from the rail or be on the hook for a tow and a ticket.

And it's not just the TTC that's dealing with the tight squeeze. A driver named Dave found himself boxed in by a stuck streetcar, leaving him no way to get his parked car out of the space he'd found."
The year before that Toronto streetcars had similar problems sharing the road with cars:
"Snow shovellers used to shaking their fists as plows leave a mountainous windrow at the bottom of their driveways may now sympathize with the TTC, which saw St. Clair streetcar service paralyzed on Sunday because of piles of snow left by city plows.

Snow removal machines clearing Avenue Road left a hefty barrier of snow across the new and controversial dedicated streetcar lanes on St. Clair Avenue West, blocking service for at least two hours and forcing at least six streetcars to sit idle. A similar problem caused delays to streetcars on Queens Quay."
Snowstorms create gridlock on streetcar routes. Buses can get around stalled cars, stuck cars, parked cars, and other track blockers, while streetcars simply stack up and go nowhere. Buses get creative and adapt to these messes, but streetcars just sit around and wait for a tow-truck for themselves or the offending vehicles.

Even in the North American Mecca of public transit, Portland (bow when you say that), TriMet advises riders to not only prepare for delays, but if things get really bad, expect a bus to show up to replace your failed rail option:
"During a major disruption, we use shuttle buses
If we expect MAX, WES or Streetcar service will be interrupted for a significant period of time, we'll send out shuttle buses to carry riders between stations. That means you'll go to the station like you normally would, but you'll board a shuttle bus instead. (It will pull up near the station, with a sign that says "Shuttle.") Unless otherwise indicated, the buses will stop at all stations your train would serve during its normal hours of operation."
TriMet notes that bus service will be curtailed on some routes with very steep hills, but these are the same routes that are too steep for a streetcar under normal conditions.

If we're going to wind up using buses for our steepest hills, and sending buses out to bail out stuck streetcars, why should we bother with trolleys in the first place?

Riders made a choice a half century ago. They abandoned old money-losing streetcars in favor of new inexpensive buses. The old-timers who gave us this city were smart folks. They made the right choice; let's honor it.

Photo courtesy of here.


  1. I'm not sure I see much of anything getting around in Cincinnati in 15+ inches of snow/ice. The vast majority of Cincinnati's snowfall comes in the dusting variety with a mixture of ice/slush due to our more temperate climate.

    In these cases streetcars run very well, and much better when compared to any vehicle moving along on rubber wheels. The tracks do not freeze due to the streetcar operations that keep the tracks heated to a degree above freezing level.

    If you have a car that stalls or has some other issue in the path of a streetcar, that's an example of a failure of the automobile...not the streetcar. And in those cases the streetcar will simply switch over at one of the cross points and use a clear stretch of track until the failed automobile is moved out of the way.

  2. Randy,
    Don't recall seeing "cross points" anywhere in the feasibility study, or in the budget. How much will those add to the cost?

  3. Moot point. The City will never get any magical federal money to get this flailing pipe-dream off the ground anyway. Much like trhe millions of dollars in private donations they were supposed to garner, the federal funding will never be there either.

    When it's all said and done, Bobby Maly will still have to drive a car through OTR when he visits from his home in Kentucky.

  4. If Cincinnati ever got 15 inches of snow (the average amount of snowfall in Cincinnati for an entire year), everything would get screwed up, there is no doubt. Including the streetcar. But given the likelihood of that type of a storm here, it does not worry me. In heavy snow, given how well cincinnati drivers drive in the snow *cough*, there would likely be issues. But these are the same issues that every other form of transportation in this city faces in the snow.

  5. Coast,

    The crossovers were mentioned in the feasibility study:

    "System crossovers are provided on eastbound Central Parkway, between Walnut St. and Main St.,
    and at the intersection of Race St. and 12th St. System crossovers will permit partial operation of the streetcar
    system if a north or south section needed to be closed.", PDF p. 11

    And accounted for in the budget at line items 1.03 (4.5 miles of total track for a 3.9 mile route accounts for the maintenance facility access and crossovers) and 1.12

  6. that would be like saying "because it snows a few days a year, I need a massive 4 wheel drive truck 365 days a year". The problem with that is it saves me a few minutes just twice a year in Cincinnati, but the rest of the time I pay for it in much lower gas milage.

  7. Good point, COAST. I like your logic. Lets apply it to another, more likely scenario, shall we?

    Sometimes, when it rains really hard, roads get flooded, and nobody can use them. Using your logic, we shouldn't build that type of infrastructure (roads) anymore.

    So you are saying that we shouldn't build a streetcar because a weather event that, conservatively, MIGHT affect us for about 24 hours out of the next 24 years? Really?

    You are really grasping at straws here...

  8. Hey, do you guys remember that goofy Issue 9 thing COAST brought about along with their loveable idiot Chris Smitherman?

    Remember...Issue 9!?

    How did that turn out?

    Oh yeah, COAST lost.

    Glad this blog is always here to remind me that no matter what lies COAST continues to spread about streetcars no matter how many goofy, anonymous and backwards user names they create...back in Novemeber voters proved they weren't buying the lies of coast. Not just by a narrow margin, but by a decisive victory.

    Oh and by the way, I took TANK this morning after just a light snowfall and the bus had trouble, I doubt a bus would perform any better than a streetcar in 15 inches of snow. Then again telling the truth was never COAST or Smitherman's strong suit, must have been why you lost.

    Oh did I mention when it came to Issue lost?

  9. How's that streetcar funding coming? Does Mr. Dohoney have all of those tens of millions in federal funds yet that issue 9's defeat was going to secure?

    Is he still fishing for the tens of millions in private funding that they promised they could get too, or is that also a lie?

  10. First of all, doesn't Cincinnati already have a tow and ticket rule in place for cars parked along certain roads during snow emergencies? I don't see how this would be any different with streetcars.

    Second, it really does seem ludicrous to suggest that a mass transit program should be entirely abandoned on the off chance that it MIGHT not be functional for at most 7 days of the year. (This being a generous estimate for how often major roads are completely impassable due to snow in Cincinnati.)

  11. World on federal funding will come when the federal government releases its decisions on federal rail funds at the beginning of next year.

    Also, I heard Stephan Louis is starting to do some writing on the COAST blog, this should be equally laughable as he is about as smart as the chair he sits on.

    Hey Stephan, do you remember at UC when you were in that streetcar debate and you made such an idiot out of yourself that the only vote of support you got was from your friend Mark Miller? While the rest of the audience voted against you...


  12. The COAST guys aren't necessarily unintelligent, Gordon. That's not fair. They are deceitful, and that's worse.

    Exhibit A: The image COAST uses in this post is from and DIRECTLY next to a picture that shows, and I quote, "buses and cars facing in all directions" as a result of this storm.

    Exhibit B: In the second comment in this post, COAST "doesn't recall seeing the 'cross points' (Randy mentions) anywhere in the feasibility study, or in the budget." You may or may not have seen it COAST, but it is there. See Brad's response on 12/7 at 3:50pm.

    If the COASTers were simply unintelligent, they wouldn't bother me. The fact that the intentionally distort facts is unforgivable, and I will continue to call them on it each and every time.

  13. Keep up the good work David Ben and continue to call them out. The constant deception and lack of objective reporting of COAST has made them unreliable. Cincinnatians are realizing this.

  14. You all conveniently overlook the fact that nobody sends out trolleys to rescue stuck buses. But even almighty Portland (bow when you say that) routinely sends buses to bail out rail failures.

    Obviously rail is an inherently inferior technology in snow.

  15. What you conveniently overlook COAST is that on the exact page you took that streetcar image from, there is you guessed it...a BUS...not "rolling," but trapped in snow as well.

    Also, in case you missed the latest Phony Coney update...busses aren't exactly rolling real well in the snow either:

    So I'll take improved transportation options such as a modern streetcar even though it could be hampered once or twice throughout the year if we ever get a terrible snow storm.

    Nice attempt at deception though, you're still trying and that shows you're not all just ignorant, you're all just liars.

  16. SORTA regularly shuts down or reduces bus service under icy and snowy conditions, especially if Cincinnati got 15 inches of snow at once (which is more than it averages in a typical year).

    COAST, only someone with as warped a sense of reality as yours would be criticizing a transit agency actually having a "Plan B" rather than saying "you're screwed" to its customers.

    BTW, when I-75 "Epic Fails" regularly around 5PM and I want to go home, I take Vine St. / Spring Grove Ave. and get there quicker. I suppose that I have discovered the secret that this path is actually a "superior" roadway to I-75. How about we just tear down I-75 if it is so inferior, thus useless?

  17. Randy, Ben, and Gordon -

    Were you in attendance at the all-white Cincinnatians4progress holiday party? It looked a lot like potential streetcar ridership - all white urban professionals.

    I know Coleman wasn't there. He was busy shoveling David Pepper's driveway.

  18. Bim,

    Wow, another poster attempting to be ironic with a backwards name. How original Bris, I mean Bim.

    In the wake of a crushing defeat and without conventional wisdom, logic or reason to oppose the streetcar, the COAST supporters try to turn it into a race issue. It's comical considering no one buys into your crap (see: Issue 9 results).

    To answer your question, no I was not at the holiday party. However, I was at the Issue 9 victory party where the election results rolled in and displayed COAST's crushing defeat. You might have seen the photos ( ) which feature Rob Richardson, a co-chair for CFP who happens to be an African American. You COASTers probably remember him, he's the guy that embarrassed your lovable idiot Stefan Lewis at the debate:

    Although I couldn't attend the CFP holiday party, I will do my best to attend the COAST holiday party which I'm sure will feature a plethora of ethnic diversity including the all white COAST leaders such as Finney, Gloyd and Miller.

  19. Thanks for posting that link Gordon. 15 pictures. Maybe 100 people. One black guy.

    I guess you're right, it will only be 99% white.

    Support gentrification! Ride the Cincinnati streetcar!!!

  20. You must misunderstand what gentrification means Bim. Gentrification is not necessarily tied to race as you make it out to be. Instead gentrification revolves around the displacement of poorer residents by new middle-income or more affluent residents.

    In the case of Over-the-Rhine since there is so much abandonment you could argue that while more affluent residents move in that gentrification doesn't have to occur. So far in the early phases of the neighborhood's turnaround there have been affordable units preserved and 3CDC has even helped various low-income housing agencies with their housing needs.

    But obviously the all that is not able to be put into a convenient sound bite for you, so why would you bother actually discussing the issue at a reasonably educated level?

  21. "you could argue that while more affluent residents move in that gentrification doesn't have to occur."

    Yeah, you could argue that, but you would be wrong. Try to tell the poor African American family who will be displaced because they can't afford a $300,000 condo that gentrification doesn't HAVE to occur.

    I guess none of the poor African American families in OTR were invited to Cincinnatians4Progress' 99% white victory party.

  22. Maybe COAST should help out poor African American families then instead of rich lawyers in Anderson Township.

  23. That rich lawyer in Anderson Township is a Board Member of the NAACP. What do YOU do to help less fortunate minorities in our community?

    crickets chirping......

  24. Dildo, Finney plays that game because without a segment of the black vote he has no power. Issue 9 did not win the black vote, despite COAST paying Chris Smitherman to align himself with them. Our city's black citizens are rightly suspicious of Smitherman's associations with these suburban pagliacci.

  25. Were you at the 99% white CFP Holiday gentrification party Provost? Maybe you learned of the African American community's suspiscion of Smitherman from the one black guy there.

  26. Were you at the Issue 9 victory party Bim? No? Oh yeah, there wasn't one, that's right, your side lost.

  27. No Gordon, we didn't win. We did, however, have more than one minority in the house. CFP's victory party looked like a glass of milk.

    Support gentrification! Ride the (never to be built) 99% white streetcar!

  28. I found an unpublished picture of the CFP Christmas Party.

    Also Gordon, you're right, COAST lost. According to you they've slipped into irrelevance, and yet you can't seem to stop visiting and posting on their blog, and posting about them on other blogs. Obsess much?
    Maybe there will be a psychiatrist you can visit in the gentrified neighborhood along the 99% white streetcar line.

  29. "...and yet you can't seem to stop visiting and posting on their blog, and posting about them on other blogs. Obsess much?"

    You know, that's funny, because all the Cincinnati bloggers seem to have to keep deleting your rude, racist comments from their numerous blogs because you can't stop visiting them. Pot calling the kettle black much, Bim?

  30. "Pot calling the kettle black much, Bim?"

    If we were at the CFP holiday party it would be the pot calling the kettle white, since there were only well-to-do white urban professionals in attendance.

    Not a single, solitary African American from the OTR neighborhood you profess to be saving. They know a gentrification rat when they see one.

  31. Oops - messed up the link.

  32. Third time's a charm.

    If i were in a streetcar enlightened city like Portland I wouldn't have made such a mistake.

  33. Wah Wah Wah,

    Keep being a sore loser and trying to turn it into a race issue, just like the Issue 9 results ones listening.

  34. "no ones listening"

    Obviously you, Randy Simes, Gordon Bombay, Chris S., Brad, David Ben, Coleman, and the gay-bashing Provost of Cincinnati are listening.

    You're commenting on the COAST blog over a month after the election. Keep being a sore "winner", and thanks for listening.


We follow the "living room" rule. Exhibit the same courtesy you would show guests in your home.