I have seen this several times on the Enquirer’s comments section in relation to the streetcar, and while the Enquirer’s comments section too often devolves into nothing but random statements full vitriol and racial animus, this comment got me thinking—what is snobbish about preferring higher quality transportation?
Streetcars attract more riders than buses because they provide a higher quality of service. Streetcars cost more up front than buses because they provide higher quality transportation; you get what you pay for. For operational costs they spread the driver’s salary over 130 people instead of 30 or 40. And, properly maintained, they last forever.
Dinner at Jean-Ro Bistro costs more than a cheese coney; Christian Moerlein costs more than Natural Light—you get what you pay for. Bearcat Football tickets cost more than the Bengals… okay well maybe not everything works this way, but most things do.
Would anyone ever suggest that choosing to take higher quality roads is snobbery?
- “Don’t be a snob, take the Reading Rd. all the way to Mason instead of I-71.”
- “Don’t be a snob, take 2nd Street instead of Fort Washington Way.”
- “Don’t be a snob, use the Brent Spence Bridge until it falls into the river instead of replacing it.”
- “Don’t be a snob, drive slower instead of filling in those potholes.”
- “Don’t be a snob, buy a car without air conditioning.”
- “Don’t be a snob, fly only in propeller-driven airplanes instead of jets.”
Of course not.
Photo from www.metrojacksonville.com
Since 1946 Transit Ridership in the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky has fallen by 85%.
In 1946, NKY transit ridership was 41,000,000. The next year, they abandoned their streetcars. By 1956 transit ridership was down to 20,000,000. To be fair, cities around the country saw their transit ridership decrease during this period. In New York, subway ridership fell 22% from 1946 to 2006, a considerable amount, but nowhere near the decrease seen in our local systems. In terms of attracting and retaining riders, the ‘bus only’ experiment for our local transit systems has been a complete failure.
Cincinnati is the 24th largest metro area in the country. Compared to similarly sized cities, our transit ridership is much lower. Denver, Pittsburgh, Portland, and Cleveland all have rail systems and they all have over double the transit ridership of bus-only Cincinnati. Two things are clear, rail attracts more riders than bus systems, and cities of a similar size to Cincinnati are large enough to support rail.
Note: Pittsburgh Yearly Ridership data is extrapolated from daily ridership data. Cincy USA includes both Metro and TANK.