Sunday, January 18, 2009

COAST Endorses Trolley Petition Drive

Effort prevents streetcars without a public vote.

COAST has joined Christopher Smitherman and the NAACP in their drive to stop Council’s planned $120 million trolley plan serving only downtown, Over-the-Rhine and Clifton with a petition drive for a charter amendment. The Charter Amendment will prevent Council from spending monies on passenger rail transportation without a public vote. The Business Courier covered the NAACP effort here.

Mark Miller becomes the first COAST signer of the
petition to stop the wasteful trolley proposal.

Over-priced and inefficient passenger rail transportation will be a bottomless pit of tax dollars,” said COAST Chairman Jason Gloyd. “We are proud to once again join the NAACP in stopping foolish policies of our local government officials.

The trolley charter amendment is the fourth proposal of the WeDemandAVote.Com coalition in three years. Two other proposals, the jail tax referendum and a charter amendment banning red light cameras, passed with COAST help in 2007 and 2008.


  1. Give 'em hell. This is a boondoggle that is only for the benfit of a few property interests. Socializing the cost and privatizing the profit is the goal here. Time to put a stop to such wasteful spending.

  2. Good job COAST and NAACP. We need to stand up to politicians who waste valuable resources on pet projects that benefit the few.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Let's also require all new highway projects to be placed on the ballot. $750 million for a new Brent Spence Bridge? That's crazy! Our political system will be so much more efficient if we require every single transportation project to be voted on!

  5. Travis, the city of Cincinnati has a process by which city-funded items can get on the ballot. If you feel the city is spending too much on public transportation, get out from behind your computer and collect the signatures to put it on the ballot. That's what COAST is doing.

  6. yeah and stop all this investment in streets to the burbs that never get used. I'm tired of paying my taxes to elitist snobs who think their neighborhood is better than mine. at least the urban core generates revenue. stop fixing holes in ghettos like price hill on my walnut hills dime. lets make a law in cincy that all projects must be voted upon by the city that effect any neighborhood since all spending is disproportionate and if downtowns gonna get raped lets rape the whole city! down with democracy! ....i never though as a libertzarian id stand up for a tax but this proposal is a joke. a city who ignores their downtown is a city thats attracts less jobs, has low property value and less density leading to increased crime. you people need to stop supporting taxes on inferior roadway systems before you worry about clean effecient systems that largely pay for themselves instead of sucking us clean.

  7. Sorry if it wasn't clear, but my previous comment was partially sarcastic. I think it is ridiculous that COAST is complaining about $185 million for a Streetcar system, and demanding that the public votes on it, while we are spending billions on highways that require no such vote.

    For example, the Mill Creek Expressway project, which widens I-75 between the Western Hills Viaduct and Paddock Road, is going to cost about $642 million. Is COAST going to demand that this project is put on the ballot as well?

  8. Travis,
    If City taxpayers were being shaken down to fund that Federal project, you probably would see COAST oppose it. But the benefit of a nationwide highway system is borne relatively equitably by nationwide taxes. Plus there's general agreement on the need for the expansion as evidenced by no real public opposition to it.

    The streetcar is another story. City taxpayers are being asked to shoulder the burden of a hugely expensive system that will primarily benefit only 3 of Cincinnati's 52 neighborhoods, representing perhaps 20,000 of Cincinnati's 330,000+ residents.

    That's quite a lopsided arrangement, and city voters are pissed that their hard-fought-for community improvement funds are being reallocated as such.

    So what would you say to a resident of Sayler Park, Madisonville, Roselawn, Westwood, Price Hill, Mt. Washington, etc. who asks, "why should I reach deep to improve someone else's neighborhood, when nobody's ever going to spend that kind of dough on my neighborhood?"

  9. Mark, I would tell them about the 2.7:1 benefit-to-cost ratio of the Streetcar project. I would also mention that once the core routes of the Streetcar project are built, it will be extended into our farther-out communities such as those you listed.

    There is no public outcry about the I-75 widening because groups like COAST have not made it an issue in the media. For some reason, you would rather be critical of a project like the Streetcar.

    It's unfortunate that the city has to pay for the Streetcar while highways are funded federally, but unfortunately that's how it's currently done. We are, in fact, asking for some of the infrastructure stimulus money so that it WILL be partially federally funded. The Streetcar project still has a higher return-on-investment than other proposed alternatives, such as streetscapes and speedbumps for our Neighborhood Business Districts. (Not to mention that the benefit-to-cost ratio of the Streetcar is double that of the Mill Creek Expressway project.)

  10. "The streetcar is another story. City taxpayers are being asked to shoulder the burden of a hugely expensive system that will primarily benefit only 3 of Cincinnati's 52 neighborhoods, representing perhaps 20,000 of Cincinnati's 330,000+ residents."

    This is incorrect. The $185M figure represents a system that would run through Downtown, Over-the-Rhine, Clifton Heights, Corryville, and Avondale. It would also border on the Westend, Fairview, Heights, Clifton, North Avondale, and Walnut Hills.

    The proposed system always has, and always will be viewed as a first phase with the intentions of expanding the system to serve more city neighborhoods. The thing is, you can't serve any neighborhoods if you never build it through the would also be unreasonable to expect to be able to fund a city-wide streetcar system in one fell swoop.

    We didn't build the interstate system at once, we didn't build our neighborhood streets all at once, but they all had to start somewhere and you start at the most logical starting point. In this case it's the urban core where economies of scale are greatest.

  11. Randy Simes, I'm not surprised your comment wasn't addressed.

  12. If this is the first phase, how much will future phases cost?


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