Cincinnati Streetcar Free Forever

The Cincinnati Bell Connector has been offering free rides since reopening in October, but the Cincinnati City Council recently decided to make the free rides a permanent feature.

1 minute read

November 4, 2020, 7:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Cincinnati Multi-Modalism

A multi-modal city in more care-free times. | Rosamar / Shutterstock

"Since reopening after a pandemic-related suspension, Cincinnati's streetcar has not charged fares for passengers to ride. Starting [November 1], that change will become permanent," reports Pat LaFleur.

The free ride rely on a fare-free operations structure first implemented as a 60-day measure in September, according to LaFleur. In addition to the benefits of free rides, streetcar riders are also expected to benefit from improved service performance, as the time for paying fare has been removed from the boarding equation.

"Given the pandemic-related, months-long streetcar shutdown, and now having operated fare-free for the last two months, recent data regarding how much fare revenue the streetcar collected on a daily basis is scarce and unreliable," writes LaFleur. "In a May 2019 memo, then-City Manager Patrick Duhaney estimated that the Connector had brought in roughly $330,000 in fares in 2018, but the cost to collect those fares -- including printing the tickets, maintaining the ticket vending machines and paying fare inspectors -- offset that revenue by nearly $260,000."

The article also includes details of Mayor John Cranley's counter proposal, which failed to gain the political traction over the fare-free idea.

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