This message is a guest post from the City of Cincinnati
Meet Paul Grether
Metro’s New Rail Manager
Just a few weeks ago, Metro named Paul Grether as its new rail manager. We caught up with him to learn a little bit more about what he’ll bring to the Cincinnati Streetcar project:
Tell us a little bit about your background.
I have always been interested in public transportation. I am a graduate of Georgia Tech, with a Masters in City and Regional planning specializing in transportation. Public Transportation is not only my vocation but also my avocation: It has a long and storied history that helped shape cities across the country, and I believe investment in transit is a critical local and national priority. I had the opportunity to go to high school in Europe which exposed me to a very different transportation experience and solidified my interest in transit.
What experience do you have working with streetcars?
In my previous job, I worked for the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority as the Manager of Streetcar Development. I worked on the development of the Atlanta Streetcar project, including grant funding, environmental clearances and planning, vehicle procurement, and program management. I also serve on the American Public Transportation Association’s Streetcar Subcommittee, which is the national group engaged with developing technical guidelines and standards for streetcars.
What is your role in the Cincinnati Streetcar Project?
The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (Metro) will be operating the streetcar once it is built. As rail projects are developed, it is important that the operator is represented in the design and development of the project, since the decisions made during the design will last for the entire life of the infrastructure. Once the construction is advanced, my role will change to safely starting up operations to support the testing and commissioning of the system. Finally, once revenue service for the public starts, my role will be managing the day-to-day operations, including transportation, maintenance and facilities functions.
What excites you about the Cincinnati Streetcar?
The City of Cincinnati has the type of transit-oriented land-use and great neighborhoods that are perfectly set up to capitalize on investments in streetcars. Many cities tore down all of their older buildings and housing, Cincinnati has retained much of its historic fabric and character. With national trends showing that people are moving back into cities, Cincinnati has the “stuff” that many people are looking for to have an authentic, quality urban lifestyle. The streetcar project in Cincinnati will be a national model and will create economic opportunity for the region.
Why do you think the Streetcar project is important to Cincinnati?
Cincinnati has a great downtown that has maintained itself as the major employment and entertainment center for the region. The Streetcar will reinforce this, as well as give the City a competitive edge over other regions. The streetcar will not only be an important transportation investment, but will promote sustainable urban growth for Cincinnati.
What do you see as the opportunities and challenges associated with the Streetcar?
The short-term opportunity is supporting the redevelopment of the various neighborhoods and districts such as The Banks and Over-the-Rhine and providing connections to these emerging districts from downtown for visitors, residents and commuters. The longer-term opportunity is to connect Uptown, with the huge academic student, faculty and health care populations there. As the future streetcar operator, a challenge with streetcars is balancing the need to keep the project “lean and mean” in terms of budget, but at the same time integrating the service seamlessly into the existing and future transit services, including existing bus and future rail.