On Tuesday, the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority's (SORTA) board of trustees voted to authorize the transit authority to serve as a partner in developing an operating plan for the streetcar system and ultimately to serve as the operator of the Cincinnati streetcar if an agreement can be reached.
The decision is subject to the City of Cincinnati and SORTA entering into a mutually agreed upon operating plan and working together on a comprehensive community engagement program. The SORTA board will vote again after the completion of these processes to make a final decision on the operation of the streetcar. The City will also review these before finalizing a decision on the operator.
"The streetcar is a city economic development tool of regional importance, but it's also a transportation mode that must be integrated with current transit service and operated efficiently and effectively," said Melody Sawyer Richardson, chair of the SORTA board. "SORTA will bring extensive transit expertise and understanding to the project, as we work with the city and the community to develop the best possible streetcar operating plan. The City Manager has assured SORTA that his recommendations for funding will not include taking City earnings tax revenue that SORTA receives to operate Metro and Access."
SORTA operates Metro and Access non-profit, tax-funded public transit services, providing about 19 million rides per year in Greater Cincinnati.