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CINCINNATI – The Board of Trustees of the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) voted today to express its willingness to assume responsibility for Cincinnati Streetcar operating costs. SORTA’s willingness is based upon assurances from the Cincinnati business and philanthropic communities that they will work with SORTA in public-private partnership to secure the funds required to cover the short and long-term operating costs of the Streetcar to the extent other sources of Streetcar revenue, such as fares, advertising, sponsorships, etc., are inadequate.
SORTA voted today, at its regularly scheduled meeting, to “endorse the concept of assuming responsibility for the operating costs associated with the Cincinnati Streetcar.” SORTA emphasized that bus service will not be affected by this decision. In addition, several viable financial models have been identified by SORTA’s consultant to fund projected Streetcar operations and were discussed at the Board meeting.
According to SORTA officials, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has agreed to serve as a resource for assisting in the development of a viable operating funding model and sharing best practices for streetcar operations in other cities. SORTA additionally announced that a $1 million commitment has been received from The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr. US Bank Foundation to seed an operating reserve fund.
Karl Schultz, vice chair of SORTA’s Board, said: “For Greater Cincinnati to successfully develop a truly regional approach to public transportation it is imperative that the Cincinnati Streetcar project proceeds. SORTA is willing to explore assuming responsibility for the Streetcar’s future operating costs and we ask the City get the project moving again and work with us and the business and philanthropic communities to quickly move to a viable solution.”
According to Terry Garcia Crews, CEO & general manager of Metro: “We believe this is a viable solution for our region. The City will not be responsible for the future operating costs of the Cincinnati Streetcar. Our business and philanthropic leaders have demonstrated leadership, and we are confident they will deliver. Importantly, because of SORTA’s involvement, discussion of the Cincinnati Streetcar can now be considered in the context of this region’s comprehensive public transit needs.”
Speaking on behalf of the business and philanthropic communities, Eric Avner, vice president of the Haile Foundation, said: “We are committed to seeing the Streetcar through to completion and beyond. SORTA has stepped up and is more than qualified to serve in this role. This is another great example of community collaboration helping to move the region forward.”
The concept approved by SORTA at today’s Board meeting requires further refinement and collaboration between the city, its business and philanthropic communities and SORTA. The essential elements:
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Metro is a non-profit, tax-funded public service of the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority, providing about 17 million rides per year. www.go-metro.com.