Cincinnati Streetcar, Cincinnati, Ohio, United States of America


Cincinnati streetcar

Cincinnati Streetcar is a new electric streetcar rail transit system to be introduced in the city of Cincinnati, Ohio, US. The project involves the construction of a 3.6 mile (5.8km) line connecting key communities in downtown Cincinnati with an investment of $147.81m, which will be sourced through federal and city funds.

The new streetcar system will offer cost-effective transport while complementing the city's Metro and other transportation systems. It will also stimulate the declining businesses in the area and boost the city's tax revenue by attracting new investments.

The first live-power vehicle test on a 1.6 mile stretch was successfully conducted in November 2015. The streetcar system is expected to begin services in September 2016.

Cincinnati Streetcar project development

The development of the Cincinnati streetcar system began with the feasibility study in 2007. The project was approved by the Cincinnati City Council in April 2008, but faced opposition from special interest groups arguing that the length of the route was too short and costly.

The anti-rail referendums conducted in 2009 and 2011 to stop the project were, however, rejected by voters, and the majority of voters preferred the project, allowing the project to move forward. Construction of the streetcar system began with the groundbreaking ceremony in February 2012.

The project also involves the construction of a maintenance and operations facility at the end of Henry and Race streets. The facility will act as an operational base for offering maintenance and repair services.

Cincinnati Streetcar route details

The streetcar system will run on a loop between Second Street at The Banks on the riverfront and Henry Street, which is located north of Findlay Market in Over the Rhine. The route will include 18 stops and will connect popular destinations such as Government Square, Fountain Square, Contemporary Arts Center, Public Library, Aronoff Center, Horseshoe Casino, Gateway Quarter, School for the Creative and Performing Arts, Music Hall and Washington Park.

The streetcar line includes a single set of at-grade tracks on the shared travel ways in mixed traffic. The track is being laid in the centre of the traffic lane and requires no exclusive right of way. The streetcar will run on the second lane next to the curb lane.

Details of the streetcar stations

The streetcar system employs a two-block spacing layout for stations, based on downtown street grid spacing of 475ft. Each station shelter incorporates a clean, simple and modular design. Some of the stations will include bump-outs ensuring the streetcar vehicle to operate in the second lane of traffic upholding on-street parking where possible.

Bump-outs provide a way for riders to board and alight without requiring the streetcar to change lanes. The curb heights at bump-outs will be raised to 10in in front of each station. Each station will include a route map, information about the streetcar system and an electronic sign displaying the arrival time of the next car, as well as important messages for riders.

Rolling stock

The Cincinnati Streetcar system will operate CAF Urbos streetcars incorporating a 100% low-floor design. Each vehicle will include a bidirectional unit on each side and a bogie in the centre. With a length of 23.62m, each vehicle will offer a maximum passenger capacity of 267.

"The new streetcar system will offer cost-effective transport while complementing the city's Metro and other transportation systems."

The articulated streetcar vehicles will attain a maximum speed of 70km/h. Each unit is equipped with HVAC systems, an audio-visual passenger information system, an event recorder, a control and monitoring system, video surveillance and a hydraulic levelling system. The vehicles receive power from pantograph connected to a single overhead wire (catenary), causing low visual impact.

Contractors involved

The City of Cincinnati signed a $71.4m contract with the Messer, Prus and Delta (MPD) joint venture for the construction of the Cincinnati streetcar system in July 2013.

Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF) subsidiary CAF USA, was preferred by City of Cincinnati for supplying five modern streetcar vehicles, in 2012. The vehicles comply with the Federal Buy America provisions, and are assembled at CAF USA's facility in Elmira, New York. The first streetcar was delivered in October 2015.

Transdev is responsible for maintenance and operations of the vehicles and track infrastructure for the streetcar system.

Cincinnati-based DNK Architects were awarded a contract to deliver Buy America-compliant shelters for the system.