All Aboard Ohio Celebrates Recent Successes, Future Plans at Recent Meeting

Last Tuesday, All Aboard Ohio held their Spring meeting at the newly-opened Taft Ale House in Over-the-Rhine.

President of the Southwest chapter, Derek Bauman, ran the meeting, which not only included discussion of advocacy for interstate passenger rail in Cincinnati, but also of the ongoing construction of the Cincinnati Streetcar.

Several community leaders and representatives were present, including Streetcar Project Manager John Deatrick, Metro’s Rail Operations Manager Paul Grether from Metro, the chief of staff for Councilman Kevin Flynn, a representative from the Cincinnati Preservation Society, the president of Queen City Bike, and even Cincinnati Union Terminal’s Amtrak station manager.

To begin the meeting, Deatrick and Grether talked about the construction of the streetcar system, which can be seen directly outside of Taft’s Ale House, and the future operation of it. Deatrick informed the crowd that almost 70% of the construction is complete, which is ahead of schedule, and the city expects the first streetcar delivery by September.

When asked to address the ongoing discussion about the next phase to Uptown, Deatrick declined to comment.

Grether then explained how his organization acts as the conduit for federal funds to the streetcar and will be the future operator of the system. He also discussed Metro’s plans to schedule the streetcar in a manner that complements and fully integrates with Metro’s bus operations, and those of TANK.

Another key point that Grether mentioned is that the technology is in place to be able to give streetcars signal priority, should leaders at City Hall decide that is desirable. Such a move would quite significantly improve travel times and performance.

As the conversation moved on, Bauman spoke about the group’s efforts to establish daily passenger rail service between Cincinnati and Chicago. Not having daily rail service to Chicago damages business competitiveness for the city, Baumann said, considering that Milwaukee, St. Louis, Detroit and Indianapolis already currently boast such service.

The effort has received renewed interest as of late due to the debate surrounding the future of the Hoosier State line, which connects Chicago to Indianapolis. Project proponents scored a big win recently when funding was picked up by the State of Indiana to continue its service. Those efforts even attracted the attention of Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN) in a letter he penned to the Federal Railroad Administration about the possibility of future extensions of the line.

Since assuming the presidency of the local chapter, Bauman has made a variety of changes to allow for greater participation and engagement. Meetings are no longer confined to members, for example, and they have begun reaching out to the business community and area universities.

Bauman said that he hopes this approach will help make daily passenger rail service a reality for the Cincinnati region at some point in the near future.

Those that are interested in supporting the efforts of All Aboard Ohio can do so by making a tax-deductible donation to the organization on Tuesday, May 12. On this day the Columbus Foundation will make matching donations to a collection of non-profits throughout the state, including All Aboard Ohio. You can make secure donations to the group on their website.

  • Jasomm

    first time i’ve heard optimism for daily CIN-CHI rail service… good stuff

  • EDG

    Wow, I’m frankly amazed that signal priority, for a mixed traffic stcar, seems to be a hope or an afterthought at this late point. I can’t imaging the stcar is going to cut across 3 lanes of traffic turning right from Central onto southbound Walnut without priority, and that all of those signals were put up in hopes of THIS council doing the smart thing.

    • Two different things. There are a handful of locations along the route where the streetcar is given a protected phase (a streetcar-only “go” signal), such as in your example, to turn right onto Walnut from the left lane of Central Parkway.

      What Grether is talking about is that every traffic signal along the route is capable of giving a standard green light when a streetcar is approaching. Presumably this could be set up to give green lights to buses, too, to speed all transit through the CBD. The city’s DOTE would have to be talked into allowing this, most likely by council or the city manager insisting on it.

    • EDG

      It seems to me that most if not all of the intersections have this new stcar signal on the side. Based on what you’re saying, then the only intersections where it will have priority is where turning?

    • I have only noticed the streetcar-only signal at a few locations:
      – Race Street near of Findlay Market (where the streetcar changes lanes)
      – 12th & Race (where the streetcar could have certain movements that would require it to cross traffic)
      – Walnut & Central (where it crosses traffic)

      I think that there will also be one on Main between 5th & 6th, and Walnut between 4th & 5th where there will be lane changes. At the rest of the turns, no dedicated signal is required because the streetcar does not cross traffic.

    • EDG

      I’ve noticed new signals down Walnut at 12th, Court and 9th, and I thought most of the intersections where construction is done around Wash Park had new signals but I can’t remember for sure.

    • New traffic lights are being installed all along the route, but they’re just regular traffic lights for cars. You can tell the streetcar signals because they only have two sections instead of three, and they all still have blue bags over them.