In last Saturday’s blog article I predicted that Cincinnati City Manager should start looking around for a new gig. I felt certain that with the changing of the administration that this was inevitable. I was very surprised that it occurred with the rapidity that it did. What I don’t know is whether the tone of the meeting was Dohoney thinking “there is no way I am working for you”, or was it Cranley thinking “there is no way you are working for me”. I suspect a little bit of both. Of course I was not in the room when the discussions between Dohoney and Mayor Elect Cranley took place, but I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall, I am sure the conversation was intriguing. And I am confident that a lot of the discussion centered on the streetcar.
In my opinion, the key plank in Cranley’s platform was elimination of the streetcar. Quite simply, I think he was elected because he opposed the street car. He has other good ideas and priorities, but the street car was the key. During this past week there has been a small ground swell in favor of the street car. But an unofficial analysis of those behind the ground swell is those who stand to profit from the streetcar. People who purchased property or opened businesses on the proposed streetcar line are the most vocal. These people would be expected to be the most vocal as they stand to lose. But that is the risk one takes when one invests in a speculation. The street car may have made their business flourish, it may have made their property values increase, or not. I think it all comes down to numbers. There is only one large number, the price of the project. There are other numbers to consider. For example, the number of people who may profit from this venture or the number of people who may ride the street car or the number of people who will pay for it. The majority of city residents will not benefit from this project at all.
It is not about the convenience. One can travel from the Banks to Findley Market on a city bus, for less money and in less time. There are other advantages to a bus as well. A bus does not run on a fixed route that cannot be altered. If there is an event on the trolley line, such as an auto accident, a fire, or a water main break, the trolley is stopped dead in its tracks. A bus, however, can simply alter its route, go around the event area, and continue on its way. One can literally walk a block or two in any direction to catch a bus to the market. The fixed route of the trolley will limit the convenience of catching the trolley to go to market. I think there is very limited value there, as a means of transportation on. The trolley is a fad, plain and simple. A fad that is proven unsuccessful in most other cities where it has been tried. There is a reason why the city took up the tracks, pulled the trolley electrical lines and moved to combustion engine driven buses. It is called progress. A fixed rail transportation system is going backward, not moving forward. It is not progress.
This is about the common good. Politicians must back projects that are for the common good, not for their good or their friends good. The common good is when something is done that benefits the majority. The streetcar is not that. $133 million can be put to use in much better ways that benefit the majority; for example, public safety. Cincinnati’s Initiative to Reduce Violence isn’t working. Violence is on the rise, the homicide rate is on track to double from last year. Let’s throw money at that. The city bus system is in shambles. The buses need to be upgraded and the routes need to be improved. Let’s throw money at that. I could go on and on with a list of things that the money could be spent on and I assure you the streetcar would be way down at the bottom of the list, if it made the cut at all. I want to encourage our new council to stand behind the mayor and do the right thing. Cut our losses, move away from this ridiculous concept of a street car, and get the city back on track (pun intended) to providing for all the citizens, not just a few.
Those are my thoughts, what are yours?