Suppose 150 UC students want to go to the Bengals game on a Sunday afternoon. Wishing to avoid the high cost of parking near the stadium or the risks of drinking and driving, they decide to take public transportation. The group arrives at the intersection of McMillan and Vine streets at exactly 12:00pm going to a game with a 1:10pm kick off. We will assume that any public transportation that comes to pick up the students will be about ¼ full (probably a low estimate as the streetcar would be busy on game days).
After Cincinnati invests in a streetcar and it begins operations, the students would wait about ten minutes (maybe less if a streetcar was approaching when they arrive), and would all board the same streetcar, filling it to its capacity of 199 passengers. Even if the streetcar was too full to take all the students in one trip, in ten minutes another bus or streetcar would be along to pick them up.
They would get dropped off at 2nd and Walnut just over two blocks from the Stadium, and have about 45 minutes until kickoff. Those of legal age could stop in one of the many new bars or restaurants at The Banks for a Christian Moerlein or Hudy Delight, and then walk over and enjoy the game.
Unfortunately, Cincinnati does not have a streetcar at present, so the students would have to take Metro. The first bus, a 46, would arrive at 12:20 and around 35 students would add to those currently on the bus and fill it to capacity. The students would get dropped off at 5th and Walnut, and after a 14 minute walk make it to the game at 12:49.
The second bus, a 78, would arrive at 12:24, and would fill to capacity. After being dropped off at 6th and Vine, the students would make it to the game by 12:53.
The third bus, another 46, would arrive at 12:45. The 35 students boarding this bus would miss kickoff and arrive at 1:14.
The fourth bus arrives at 12:56, and this load of students don’t make it to the game until 1:23pm. The reality is they could have walked to the stadium faster.
If they didn’t manage to squeeze their way onto another bus, the fifth and final group of 10 students gets picked up at 1:10. The Bengals will likely be down 7-0 by the time they arrive at 1:39.
Unless the Bengals are losing badly and students choose to start leaving in the 2nd or 3rd quarter, the bus ride back is going to be just as bad.
After this experience, how many of the students in the 3rd, 4th, or 5th busload are likely to choose public transportation again?
The Cincinnati Streetcar, even viewing it strictly as a means of transit and not considering the myriad economic development benefits, is more reliable, easier to use, and less confusing than the bus system because riders can see the tracks and know where the streetcar will run.
Buses are an important part of any transit system, but rail transit’s higher capacities and easily understandable routes make it a better choice for connecting the City’s major attractions and most densely populated neighborhoods, especially for intermittent users riding to a ball game, theatre performance, or one of the new business along the route. Just as a city wouldn’t make every road a one way street, a ‘one size fits all’ bus-only transit system doesn’t perform as well with a transit system with numerous modes of transportation each filling a different role.
Because they are easier to use, streetcars it encourage intermittent users as well as dedicated ones in a way buses just don’t. Once infrequent transit riders get comfortable riding the streetcar, they will be more likely to consider other transit options and ride the bus, boosting ridership on both systems. Increase Transit Ridership—Build the Streetcar