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Transportation : Cincinnati In The News

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OTR redevelopment sets precedent for other cities

Public and private redevelopment efforts in Over-the-Rhine are catching the eye of cities like Atlanta and St. Louis. Both cities have experienced the same struggles as Cincinnati: disinvestment, crumbling historic properties and depopulation. 

Efforts from groups like 3CDC have made OTR a shining example of urban redevelopment, and the streetcar is helping bridge the gap between OTR and downtown. Another major project that will further close that gap is the new Kroger on Walnut.

Historically, developers have relied heavily on state historic tax credits, but with major federal cuts to the program, those dollars will be greatly reduced and may affect the number of historic renovations in Cincinnati's future.

Click here to read more about the strides Atlanta and St. Louis are making to combat issues like depopulation and historic redevelopment, using Cincinnati as a guide.

Report: Streetcar boosting regional access to jobs

A report by Access Across America: Transit ranks Cincinnati first among cities with the greatest increase in job accessibility by transit — and local experts believe that’s thanks in part to the introduction last year of the Cincinnati Bell Connector streetcar.

General rankings for job accessibility by transit remained unchanged from the previous year, according to research published by the University of Minnesota, but new data comparing changes within each of the 49 largest U.S. metros over one year helped data analysts identify Cincinnati and Charlotte (with increases of 11.23 percent and 11.02 percent, respectively) as growth leaders in that segment.

The top 10 cities with the greatest increases in job accessibility by transit are as follows. (Click links for map view):

1.     Cincinnati (+ 11.23%)
2.     Charlotte (+ 11.02%)

3.     Orlando (+ 10.83%)
4.     Seattle (+ 10.80%)
5.     Providence (+ 10.65%)
6.     Phoenix (+ 7.51%)
7.     Riverside (+ 6.59%)
8.     Milwaukee (+ 6.53%)
9.     Hartford (+ 6.44%)
10.  New Orleans (+ 6.18%)

Get a big-picture look at where Cincy ranks in jobs by transit here.

CVG lauded for excellence at Travel Weekly's Magellan Awards

For the third year in a row, CVG received a number of accolades from Travel Weekly’s Magellan Awards, and was the only airport to receive a gold award.

The airport received two gold awards — one for its #ProjectGratitude social media campaign and the other for its miniature therapy horse program. It also took home a silver award for its terminal videos.

The gold award in Social Media highlights CVG’s dedication to its mission to provide passengers a positive experience. To celebrate its 70th anniversary, CVG is performing 70 acts of gratitude throughout the year to surprise and delight travelers, as well as thank them for choosing CVG. All is documented on CVG’s social media channels (@flyCVG on Facebook, @CVGairport on Twitter and Instagram).

Winning the gold award in the Special Needs category is a nod to CVG’s partnership with Seven Oaks Farm to bring miniature therapy horses to the airport’s terminal twice a month. The program helps ease passengers’ anxiety and puts smiles on their faces.

The third award, silver in Special Needs, recognizes CVG’s effort to make travel by air stress-free and available to all. The terminal videos are located on CVG’s website to allow travelers to watch the videos prior to their flight in order to easily navigate various areas of the airport. The videos have a special accessibility feature for visual and hearing impaired individuals.

Each year, Travel Weekly receives entries from around the world, and awards those projects that represent the best in the travel industry in a broad range of industry segments, including hotels, online travel services, airlines, airports and more.

Click here to check out the other winners.

CVG ranked best airport in the U.S. by SkyTrax

Even though CVG has drastically cut back its number of daily passenger flights, it is the highest ranking U.S. airport on this year's World's Best Airport list from SkyTrax. It landed itself at no. 26 worldwide, above larger, hub airports like Denver, San Francisco and Atlanta.

Cincinnati's Delta hub was cut back seven years ago — CVG had two empty terminals and super high landing fees for airlines that kept discount carriers out of the region. Those two terminals were demolished and replaced with one terminal.

Terminal 3, the airport's one remaining passenger terminal, was built in 1974 and upgraded in 1987 and 2012.

Passenger flights were cut from over 600 to today's 165, but by cutting landing fees, CVG has attracted discount airlines like Allegiant, Frontier and Southwest. Because of those discount flights, it's now attracting passengers at a rate well above the national average.

For more about CVG's success, click here. And stay tuned for our in-depth look at CVG's footprint in the world of freight carrier flights in our Aug. 15 issue.

Travel + Leisure plans perfect three-day weekend in Cincinnati

Travel + Leisure lays out three days of must-sees, must-dos and must-eats for tourists in Cincinnati, including exploring spots in downtown, Over-the-Rhine and Northern Kentucky.

During the day, take in art at the Contemporary Arts Center or take a Cincinnati Brewery Tour to see the underground lager tunnels. Hop on the streetcar or rent a Cincy Red Bike to get around and see the sights. Food highlights include dinner at Mita's and Sotto; breakfast at Maplewood Kitchen and Bar; drinks at Taft's Ale House or the 21c rooftop bar; and donuts at Holtman's.

To see the full three-day travel plan, click here.

CVG continues to draw national attention

Even though CVG has only one terminal, it's growing. It recently attracted new airlines (Southwest), new flights (Allegiant and Frontier) and another airline (Delta) is growing at CVG for the first time in decades. Now it's on the list of top 100 airports in the world.

It's landed on the list among world-renowned international airports like Singapore, which came in at no. 1, and Heathrow, which cracked the top 10. It also climbed up the list from 2016, when it landed at no. 32, to no. 26 this year.

CVG also received three other awards from Skytrax:
  • No. 2 for Best Airport in North America
  • No. 2 for World’s Best Regional Airport
  • No. 5 for Best Airport Staff in North America
To see the full list of award winners, click here.

Amazon planning $1.5 billion cargo hub at CVG

Last week, CVG received more good news: Amazon is planning to build a $1.5 billion cargo hub at the airport. This comes on the tail end of Southwest Airlines' announcement that it will be adding flights from CVG to Baltimore-Washington International Airport and Chicago Midway.

With the completion of the proposed 2-million-square-foot facility, Amazon will be able to rely less on UPS and FedEx for air deliveries. The hub will also house Amazon's current and future fleet of airplanes, and bring about 2,000 jobs to the area.

To read the full Forbes story, click here.

Brent Spence Bridge causes traffic jams downtown on both sides of the river

Rush hour in Cincinnati is the worst, especially if you're trying to cross the Brent Spence Bridge from either side of the river. It seems that no matter the time of day, the I-75 at I-74 and the I-75/I-71 at I-275 interchanges are always congested.

The Brent Spence Bridge, which is the cause of those traffic jams, recently made American Transporation Research Institute's list of top 100 bottlenecks in the country, coming in at no. 35 and no. 84, respectively.

Since 2002, the ATRI has collected and processed GPS data from trucks to help support the Federal Highway Administration's Freight Performance Measures initiative, which collects and monitors key performance measures of the country's freight transportation system.

See the full list of the country's worst 100 bottleneck interchanges here.


The future of transportation lies in hyperloop travel, Midwest Connect

Transportation could get a lot faster with the proposed hyperloop that could take passengers from Pittsburgh to Columbus in about 15 minutes.

The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, which is based in Columbus, is among 35 semifinalists for the Hyperloop One Global Challenge. Hyperloop One, a Los Angeles company, is developing a system to move freight and passengers in pods that use low-pressure tubes and magnetic force.

The hyperloop, called Midwest Connect, would feature pods that would allow people to travel faster than airplanes, and for the about the price of a bus ticket.

As of right now, Midwest Connect is only in the early planning stages, and if built, would start out by connecting Pittsburgh, Columbus and Chicago. If successful, the program could launch in other areas of the country; and Cincinnatians could easily access the Columbus station via I-71.

To read the full story, click here.

CVG gains momentum with addition of Southwest Airlines

In June, Southwest Airlines will begin flying in and out of CVG. It's a huge win for the airport, which recently downsized to just one terminal.

Cincinnati was known as a hub for Delta until a few years ago when a number of cutbacks affected Delta's service to CVG. Delta now only operates about 100 flights per week at the airport. This has opened the airport up to other airlines, including budget airlines like Allegiant, Frontier and now Southwest. 

Passengers will be able to take one of eight daily Southwest flights from CVG to Baltimore-Washington International Airport or Chicago Midway.

Read the whole story here.

What happened to Cincinnati's subway system?

Cincinnati started construction on a subway system at the turn of the 19th century. The idea was that with the subway, the city's population would boom because people would be able to live and work in two different places, but still be able to get there quickly.

Work on the 16-mile loop never finished.

As history would have it, World War I, Prohibition, the stock market crash and World War II played a huge part in the demise of the subway. And although the city has tried to revive it, nothing has ever come of those plans. The abandoned tunnels remain locked and removed from the public eye.

With the streetcar opening scheduled for September, it seems the city is once again ready for mass public transit.

Read the full story here.


Streetcars: If you build it, will they come?

Slow to build and expensive to operate, streetcars could be the most maligned mode of transportation in America, Governing Magazine says in its June issue, but cities keep building them.

This could be a banner year for streetcar openings, Daniel Vock writes, with a total of eight streetcar projects opening or about to come online, including five in cities with no previous service: Cincinnati; Detroit; Kansas City, Mo.; St. Louis; and Washington, D.C.

"What generally distinguishes streetcars from light rail is that streetcars are smaller, travel in traffic, have shorter routes and make more frequent stops," he writes. "Light rail is built to move people between neighborhoods, while streetcars typically help people get around within neighborhoods. Although the distinctions may seem small, they help explain why streetcars seem to get a lot more criticism than light rail projects, even though both have proliferated rapidly in recent years."

The most emulated streetcar system in the country is Portland’s, Vock says, and a "pilgrimage to Portland is virtually a prerequisite for any city leader serious about building a streetcar system at home. Cincinnati’s delegation has visited Portland 39 times because it’s an example of how a streetcar can both improve transportation and create a vibrant neighborhood out of an overlooked industrial area."

Read the full Governing Magazine story here.

Walkable neighborhoods in U.S. cities are both wealthier and more highly educated

Urbanist Richard Florida writes in CityLab about a new report from the George Washington University School of Business regarding the effects of walkable places on the wealth and equity of U.S. metro areas. Cincinnati is rated #18 of the 30 metros studied and is ranked in the "lower-middle walkable urbanism" grouping, the second lowest of four tiers.

Florida explains that the report ranks walkability for America’s 30 largest metros using data on 619 walkable urban neighborhoods based on their high walk scores and large concentrations of office and/or retail space. It then examines the connection between metro walkability and factors like economic development (based on GDP per capita), educational attainment (the share of adults with college degrees) and social equity (based on housing and transportation costs, as well as the number of jobs near a given residence).

"While walkable neighborhoods occupy only one percent of land mass across the 30 largest metros, they account for the majority of office and multi-family rental development," Florida writes. "Between 2010 and 2015, the market shares of walkable urban places increased in all 30 metros, with 27 metros seeing their growth double since 2010."

The top-ranked tier of walkable cities includes (in order) New York City; Washington, D.C.; Boston; Chicago; San Francisco; and Seattle. Other cities ranked in the same tier as Cincinnati are Cleveland, Detriot, Houston, Miami, Los Angeles, Kansas City and St. Louis.

Read the full CityLab story here.

Local startup Spatial among 12 international companies in auto mobility accelerator

The mobility accelerator operated by Boulder-Color.-based Techstars recently named Cincinnati startup Spatial as one of the 12 companies in its Techstars Mobility Class of 2016. Each is building automotive mobility technologies and services that enable people and goods to move around more freely, according to the announcement posted on Techstars' website.

"The quality of teams and companies applying this year has been incredible," writes Techstars Mobility Managing Director Ted Serbinski. "We saw a world-wide response with applications from 52 countries across 6 continents. There was a 44 percent increase in mobility-focused companies. Most impressive, 50 percent of the 2016 companies include founders with diverse backgrounds."

Spatial uses data from social media platforms to describe the feel of a neighborhood on maps, a big help to people planning trips to cities or areas they aren't familiar with. The startup was part of Ocean's accelerator class earlier this year, graduating in April.

As part of the Techstars Mobility Class, Serbinski says, Spatial will participate in a Sept. 8 demo day "where we expect over 1,000 people to come see and meet these 12 startups."

Techstars has increased its investment relationship with Cintrifuse in recent years and is partnering with Cintrifuse to present its annual FounderCon in Cincinnati in October.

Read the full Techstars blog post here.

Brent Spence Bridge an "infrastructure emergency," now what?

The Hill political newspaper website leads off its take on the top five "infrastructure emergencies" across the U.S. with the Brent Spence Bridge, which it says is responsible for moving 4 percent of gross national product.

"Advocates for investing in the nation's infrastructure are hesitant to single out certain projects as deserving priority over others, arguing that sustained funding and attention is needed equally across the board," the story opens. "But there are some crumbling structures threatening both the economy and public safety that are just too urgent not to point out."

That's not news in Greater Cincinnati, where finding a replacement for the aging, overcrowded highway bridge has been a quixotic journey for corporate, government and community leaders for years. Design concepts were announced in 2010, but Ohio, Kentucky and federal political leaders can't agree on funding sources or methods.
"Some transportation planners are calling on officials not only to rehabilitate the bridge but to construct a new one alongside it," The Hill writes. "Every year of delay in the start of construction costs the taxpayers nearly $75 million per year in inflation, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation."

President Obama visited the Brent Spence Bridge in 2011 as part of a broader push for infrastructure investments, saying, "It's in such poor condition, it's functionally obsolete."

Read the full story from The Hill here.

Remembering Cincinnati's old streetcars as new ones take to the streets

A small blog post at Governing Magazine shows one of Cincinnati's defunct inclines carrying two streetcars up and down one of the city's bare hills under the headline "Remembering Cincinnati's Old Streetcars."

Cincinnati will debut its new streetcar line in September, the blog post notes, the first time streetcars have carried passengers here since 1951.

"Built to accommodate a growing population in the mid-19th century, the electric system ran smoothly but for one problem: It didn’t have enough power to get up and down the city’s hills," David Kidd writes. "The solution was four cable-operated inclined railways that worked like elevators. Streetcars drove onto a platform and were simply carried up and down the hills."

Can anyone suggest which hill and incline is pictured?

Read the full Governing Magazine story here.

Want a bike-friendly city? Get ready to fail until it works, says Wired

Here's a fascinating article from Wired about building a bike-friendly culture in cities. Although it doesn't specifically mention Cincinnati, its findings and recommendations definitely apply to us.

"Building any infrastructure, anywhere, is a pain in the neck," writes Aarian Marshall. "You've got to find exactly the right government agencies, community groups, funding sources and contractors. And then you've got to figure out the logistics of construction and worry about the inevitable delays and cost overruns."

But Marshall then says not to despair, that there's good news for our soon-to-be bicycling-loving cities. "Across the country, usually stodgy governments are trying quick and dirty pilot projects, putting down cheap and temporary bicycle infrastructure and giving it a literal test drive (well, ride) before committing to the big stuff."

Like bike-only lanes along Central Parkway?

"Laying down temporary infrastructure before ginning up anything permanent also provides an opportunity to convince skeptics about the upsides of bike travel," Marshall writes. "Demonstration projects go a long way in terms of alleviating fears. Once residents see bicycle infrastructure in action, he says, they (usually) decide it doesn’t take up too much room or cost too much money. That makes it politically easier to build permanent protected lanes, bike boxes and signals."

Read the full Wired story here.

Cincinnati's never-used subway is 100 years old this month

"In 1916, the people of Cincinnati voted to fund the construction of a subway that would revolutionize the city’s public transportation system," Scott Rodd writes at the Next City website. "One hundred years later, all that remains is a 2-mile stretch of abandoned tunnels below the declining Rust Belt city."

Rodd goes on to relate the fascinating story of how Cincinnati approved $6 million in bonds to build a subway "loop" centered in downtown only to have a subsequent mayor halt the project mid-stream, leaving abandoned tunnels and tracks under Central Parkway to this day. Foreshadowing, perhaps, for the Cincinnati Streetcar loop, which was almost halted a few years ago by newly-elected Mayor John Cranley? Instead, the streetcar starts public operations later this year.

(Note to Rodd: Cincinnati is a "declining Rust Belt city?" Dude, you need to get a clue from national reports like this, this and this of Cincinnati's renaissance and rejuvenation ...and those are from just the past week.)

The Ohio Department of Transportation eventually built large portions of Interstates 71 and 75 in urban Cincinnati on land the state had originally purchased for the subway loop, saving money by avoiding right-of-way acquisitions and eminent domain but forever destroying rail transit routes.

Read the full Next City story here.

Cincinnati Streetcar on the cover of British transit magazine

The Light Rail Transit Association, based in England, publishes Tramways & Urban Transit magazine, which its website says "is widely regarded as the definitive light rail journal and is essential reading for all concerned with urban transport and planning. ... Read how cities are transforming themselves with modern modes of urban transit — making them better places to live, work, shop and play — enabling civilised life without the dominance of the motor car."

The cover of its February issue shines some international attention on the civilised/civilized life we enjoy in Cincinnati, with the coming-soon Cincinnati Streetcar the poster child for "A Bumper Year for Tramway Openings."

See the Light Rail Transit Association website here. You'll have to become a member to read the magazine content online.

Top 10 new bike projects in North America in 2015

Despite slow and hard-won progress for bike advocates across North America, says Next City writer Josh Cohen, there were plenty of victories worth celebrating in 2015. He details 10 such inspiring projects, mostly new protected bike lanes and street intersections along with the new Tilikum Crossing Bridge in Portland, Ore.

Next City is a nonprofit organization providing daily online coverage of the leaders, policies and innovations driving progress in metropolitan regions across the world.

In 2015, Cohen writes, "North American cities took some important steps with new, high-quality, physically separated bike infrastructure — the kind that helps more people feel comfortable riding, which in turn encourages DOTs to build more infrastructure, which then gets more people riding, and so on."

Greater Cincinnati had a few biking wins in 2015, including still-protected bike lanes on Central Parkway and Red Bike's expansion into Northern Kentucky, and real progress on the Wasson Way and Oasis Line paths is expected this year.

Read the full Next City story here.

Co-ops are an old alternative to the new app-based economy

Companies like Uber drive money out of local communities and erase the benefits that employees have fought hard for, Alex Morgan writes in Governing Magazine. Co-ops could slow that shift.

Morgan cites the example of a city like Cincinnati adopting a co-op ride-sharing model as a way for people to keep their dollars in their own communities.

"Taxi drivers in, say, Cincinnati (perhaps those already driving for Uber or Lyft) could band together and start a co-op service with its own app that might be called Big Red Ride," he writes. "Members could keep the 20 to 30 percent Uber would otherwise get and use that money to not only undercut Uber on price but also to provide Big Red Ride’s driver-owners with health insurance, vacation time and so on."

Morgan thinks the ongoing shift to an app-based economy is pushing communities to a real crossroads.

"Unless current trends are countered ... this new economy has the potential to return us to a very old economy, a pre-Industrial Revolution one in which merchants put out work at meager piece rates to families and individuals," he writes. "Co-ops are flexible because at their core is not technology but a set of legally defined relationships. The owners, or members, have control, not outside investors. People vote, not money."

Xavier University hosted a conference on the co-op movement in November, which Soapbox previewed here. Xavier will host a follow-up conference, The Cooperative Economy: Building a More Sustainable Future, April 21-22 at its on-campus Cintas Center.

Would Cincy Red Bike be interested in starting a ride-sharing co-op?

Read the full Governing Magazine story here.

How transportation planning is stuck in the past

A new report from the National League of Cities, "City of the Future: Technology & Mobility," details the many challenges city and regional leaders face in adapting their planning efforts to coming workforce and demographic changes. Bob Graves, associate director of the Governing Institute, writes about the report's findings in Governing Magazine.

"For all we hear about the impact that technology and social changes are having on urban mobility, you'd certainly expect to see their influence reflected in city transportation planning," he says. "For the most part, unfortunately, this simply isn't the case."

In short, Graves writes, the NLC study finds that the cities' planning efforts focus heavily "on the problem of automobile congestion and prescribe increased infrastructure in the form of new roads as the primary cure."

The study analyzed city and regional transportation planning documents from the 50 most populous U.S. cities as well as the largest cities in every state, for a total of 68 communities. Cincinnati didn't make the cut, but our regional planning shortcomings are certainly echoed in the report.

Read the full Governing Magazine story here.

Cincinnati has two of the 23 worst traffic bottlenecks in U.S.

The American Transportation Research Institute has collected and processed truck GPS data since 2002 to create performance measures related to truck-based freight transportation, then quantifies the impact of traffic congestion at 250 specific locations. Their latest analysis shows that Cincinnati has two of the nation's 23 worst traffic bottlenecks.

The intersection of I-71 and I-75 at the Brent Spence Bridge downtown is the #7 worst traffic congestion spot in the U.S., ahead of anything in Los Angeles. Don't worry, though, because we're going to get a Brent Spence Bridge replacement very soon.

The I-75/I-74 split is the country's #23 worst traffic congestion spot. That area is actually scheduled to be rebuilt and should be finished in 5-10 years.

But things could always be worse: Houston has four of the top 10 worst traffic bottlenecks.

Read the full American Transportation Research Institute study here.

Cincinnati among three new U.S. streetcar lines hitting milestones

Urban issues website Next City discusses Cincinnati's Streetcar's final downtown track section being completed in its weekly "New Starts" roundup of newsworthy public transportation projects worldwide.

Streetcar projects in Cincinnati and Kansas City are moving toward completion, the roundup reports, with both systems awaiting delivery of their first vehicles from CAF's manufacturing plant in Elmira, N.Y. The article also provides an update on the new streetcar line in Washington, D.C., which is currently testing its vehicles and hopes to be fully operational by year end.

Read the full Next City roundup here.

Cincinnati's embrace of technology continues to draw attention, this time lasers & road repairs

The City of Cincinnati's embrace of technology and big data has exploded since the launch of its Office of Performance and Data Analytics late last year. National tech websites have praised the city for using data analysis to fight blight and to make local government more efficient and transparent.

Now Governing Magazine looks at the city's use of lasers and GPS technology to fix potholes and get ahead on road maintenance.

Michael Moore, director of the city's Transportation and Engineering Department, explains the new approach.

"What's really interesting about this is that there is a GPS component to it," he tells the magazine. "So every bit of data they collect is coded and we can code this back to our local (geographic information system). We then know, pretty much on a granular level, where every pothole is, where we have rutting, where we have a roughness index — all of those things get captured and layered into the GIS system in a way that we don’t do today.”

Moore says the result of the faster, more accurate street survey will be what he calls an interactive "900-mile-long photograph."

Read the full Governing Magazine story here.

How Cincinnati fares in analysis of U.S. bike & walk commuting

The League of American Bicyclists recently released its 2014 edition of “Where We Ride: An Analysis of Bicycling in American Cities,” a look at the growth of bicycle commuters based on new data from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey. Topics covered include how all 50 states rank according to bicycle commuters as a share of all commuters, how cities with a high percentage of bicycle commuters compare to other cities in their regions and even numbers on the rate of growth among walking commuters.

The broad results show there was a modest increase of 0.5 percent from 2013 to 2014 in the percentage of bike commuters nationwide. That number has grown by 62 percent nationally since 2000.

Cincinnati, Ohio and Kentucky show up throughout the report, of course, with mixed results. The best news: Cincinnati is the third fastest growing city for bike commuting, with 350 percent growth in bike commuters between 2000 and 2014. Only Detroit and Pittsburgh grew faster.

Cincinnati ranks #31 among U.S. cities for percentage of commuter trips taken by bike (0.9 percent), which is about where the city sits in overall market size (#35). Portland, Ore. is #1.

In terms of overall share of commuting performed on bicycle, Ohio ranks 36 and Kentucky 43. Oregon is #1.

Interestingly, 6.4 percent of Cincinnati workers commuted by walking in 2014, which ranks ninth among U.S. cities in the 200,000-500,000 population range. Pittsburgh was first in that size category with 11 percent.

Read the full League of American Bicyclists report here.

Jobs getting farther from home in U.S. cities

Jobs are moving farther away from where employees live, according to the Brookings Institution, which looked at U.S. Census Bureau data from 2000 to 2012 for the country's largest 96 metropolitan areas. The number of jobs within a typical commuting distance dropped by 7 percent for suburban residents during those years and dropped by 3 percent for city residents.

"Closeness to workplaces affects people differently," says an article on the findings in Governing Magazine. "While higher earning workers can afford to drive long distances to work, not everyone can. Being close to jobs affects how long black, female and older workers are unemployed more than other groups. For poor residents, having jobs nearby also increases their chances of working and leaving welfare."

Brooking calculated the typical commuting distance in Greater Cincinnati to be 8.7 miles. The shortest typical work commute among the 96 metro areas was in Stockton-Lodi, Calif., at 4.7 miles, and the longest was in Atlanta at 12.8 miles.

Read the full story here.

Tolls on the rise as highway funding dries up

With shortfalls in federal transportation spending and the Highway Trust Fund, the Brookings Institution's Robert Puentes says that states and localities are exploring more tolls to support new capacity and other ongoing improvements.

"In 2013, for instance, tolls covered about 5,400 miles across all interstate and non-interstate roadways nationally, a 15.1 percent jump since 2003," he writes. "Toll roads have expanded their mileage by nearly 350 miles, or 7 percent, since 2011 alone. By comparison, total system mileage has grown by only 3.6 percent over the past decade."

Which leads us, as always, to stalled discussions over replacing the Brent Spence Bridge — where tolls seem to be an inevitability except to the Kentucky legislators who control the project.

Cincinnati Magazine partnered with UC's Niehoff Urban Studio recently to look at the future of transportation, including an interesting option to build the new highway bridge west of Longworth Hall (see rendering above).

Read the full Brookings article here.

Potential Seattle streetcar changes could impact national movement

Seattle followed Portland to build the second modern streetcar system in the U.S., featuring one downtown line, a second that's about to open and a third in the planning stages. Overall ridership grew steadily after the first line opened in 2008, the transit website Transport Politic says, but usage flattened out in 2013 and actually declined in 2014.

"The problem may have something to do with the way the streetcar runs: In the street, sharing lanes with cars," says Transport Politic Editor Yonah Freemark in a new blog post. "The results have been slow vehicles — the line's scheduled service averages less than eight miles per hour — often held back by traffic and a lack of reliability. This can produce horror stories of streetcars getting stuck for half an hour or more behind other vehicles and, combined with infrequent service, it certainly reinforces the sense that streetcars are too slow and unreliable to provide any serious transportation benefit.

"This is a problem shared by every existing and planned modern streetcar line in the country, suggesting that the streetcar designed to run in the street with cars may, over the long term, simply fail to attract riders who grow increasingly frustrated with the quality of service provided."

Sobering thoughts for those anticipating long-term success for the Cincinnati Streetcar, which will run in street traffic along its entire route.

Seattle is now studying the idea of dedicated lanes for its third streetcar line, with the idea of providing quicker travel times. Freeman thinks that new approach could "demonstrat(e) that one of the fundamental problems with today's modern streetcar movement can, in fact, be addressed, albeit a few years late. If it shows that those dedicated lanes can reduce disruptions and speed up service, it hopefully won't be long until we see them in cities across the country, from Atlanta to Portland."

Read the full article here.

Kansas City pulls together bistate transit authority to drive economic development

The former mayor of Kansas City, Kan., has been named to the newly created position of Kansas City Area Transportation Authority CEO, with a mandate to pull together four different bus systems in the region (across two states) and connect them seamlessly with the city's under-construction downtown streetcar line. So reports The Kansas City Star — the kind of story you likely won't be reading any time soon in the Cincinnati media.

The Transportation Authority board was looking for someone with the leadership and public relations skills to build consensus for an improved transportation system that, the article claims, "many say is underfunded, struggles in a car-centric city, and suffers from service gaps that make it challenging for suburban riders to use anytime but during the morning and afternoon rush hours."

"(Joe) Reardon’s job will be to expand and unify the region’s fractured public transit system at a time when transit is seen as a key driver of economic development," the article says, then quotes Reardon: "I think a unified transit system is a key component to moving Kansas City as a region forward."

Good thing we're OK with the status quo of Cincinnati's multiple, unconnected transit systems. The region's just fine as is, thank you.

Read the full story here.

Eastern Corridor project: A road no one wants?

The Ohio Department of Transportation's ongoing study of the Eastern Corridor — featuring a widened and rerouted State Rte. 32, commuter rail between downtown and Milford and new bike paths — is being called "The $1.4 Billion Road No One Seems to Want" in a new Streetsblog USA post from writer Angie Schmitt.

Noting strong opposition to the Eastern Corridor plan from impacted communities such as Newtown, Mariemont and Madisonville, Schmitt asks, "Has Ohio DOT decided to shelve it? Nope. Instead, the Federal Highway Administration recently hired a third-party mediator to reach an agreement between Ohio DOT and the highway opponents. The mediator’s report recommended eight possibilities. One is a 'no-build' option, and the other seven are less harmful variations on the Eastern Corridor idea."

Read the full post here.

Nation's mayors want federal help on infrastructure

The U.S. Conference of Mayors' winter meeting last week in Washington, D.C. produced a resounding call for federal government help with urban transportation and infrastructure issues. President Obama signaled his support, calling on Congress to pass a bipartisan infrastructure plan In his State of the Union address.

“We’re all focused on infrastructure,” San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee told The Washington Post. “We think that that’s probably one of the best foundations for our economy, job creation, and we’re true believers in that.”

Read the full story here.

Cincinnati Streetcar part of $90 billion in transit developments across North America

The Cincinnati Streetcar's $148 million price tag is too high for some and not enough of an investment for others, but one thing's for certain: The project has lots of company across North America. The Transport Politic website published its annual rundown of major transit investments in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, saying a total of $90.6 billion will be spent in 2015 on roughly 100 different bus rapid transit, streetcar and light/heavy rail projects. Read more here.

XU basketball player a driving force

Xavier's 6-foot-10 senior Matt Stainbrook has been in the news lately, but only partially because he's the second leader scorer on XU's 8-2 hoops team. He's the cover boy of Xavier Nation magazine, which describes him as "silly, serious, goofy, intense." And his late-night excursions as an Uber driver in and around Cincinnati prompted a ride-along video from ESPN. Go Muskies!

Better parking ideas for big cities

Cities can change the "politics of parking" by using new parking meter technology to reinforce community planning concepts and push economic development — from giving residents a discount to earmarking meter revenue for better public services. No specific mention of Cincinnati, but some interesting ideas to chew on. Read more here.

How idealism threatens to derail transit projects

"Perfect" can be the enemy of "good" when it comes to new urban transit projects, some of which are being derailed by an unlikely source: transit advocates. Salon looks at why the proposed streetcar line in Arlington, Va., was recently scuttled and how transit projects in Austin, Houston, New York City and Cincinnati face their own hurdles. Read more.

How Cincinnnati's pro-streetcar campaigners won in the end

Ryan Messer and his grassroots group Believe in Cincinnati never took no for an answer. Read more.

Frontier sets sales record with new Cincinnati flights

Frontier Airlines set a company record for one-day ticket sales when the discount carrier announced new non-stop flights to five cities from low-fare-starved Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. Read more.

Cincinnati ranked among cities with highest share of bike commuters

Cincinnati is ranked 45th among the 70 largest cities with the highest share of bicycle commuters. Read more.

Vacation flights booming at high-fare Cincinnati airport

More cost-conscious travelers in Greater Cincinnati are now starting their vacations at the region's major airport, which has become known in recent years for budget-busting fares. Vacation flights have been booming at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) since 2012—a trend that's expected to continue as this year's summer travel season approaches. Read more.

Cincinnati airport ranked best in US

On March 26th Skytrax, a consultancy, released its list of the world’s 100 best airports. The highest-ranked in America was tiny Cincinnati, at 27th. Read more.

Cincinnati Metro: Building a better system

The Metro team has focused on its go*Forward plan to initiate new services for its riders. Read more.

FTA to Cincinnati: Consider more streetcar

The Federal Transit Administration appears to be encouraging Cincinnati to begin planning to extend its starter streetcar line, the latter currently under construction. The FTA is urging the line be extended to the Uptown area, an employment center of 55,000 jobs. The current line, serving the city's Downtown, is home to 64,000 jobs. Read more.

Cincinnati wins 'Streetsie Award'

Cincinnati recently won a Streetsie Award for Most Kick-Ass Grassroots Movement for Livable Streets. Cincinnati won the people's choice award for its movement to save the Cincinnati streetcar project. Read more about the Streetsie Awards.

Cincinnati streetcar plan pits desire for growth against fiscal restraint

The New York Times weighs in on the Cincinnati streetcar project. Read more.

Cincinnati's streetcar advocates fought City Hall, won

A groundswell of citizen support rose from nowhere in just six weeks to fight City Hall and saveCincinnati's streetcar project. Read more.

A triumph for transit in Cincinnati could mark major policy shift

Wired weighs in on the Cincinnati streetcar project. Read more.

New group petitioning to let voters decide streetcar's fate

A newly formed group known as We Believe in Cincinnati announced a petition drive to put the streetcar issue before voters in a special election as soon as February. They said they hoped to collect 12,000 signatures by Saturday, more than double the amount needed to trigger a special election. The petition kickoff startes tonight at 6 p.m. at the First Lutheran Church at 1208 Race Street. Read more.

Cincinnati's Airport: Best in the U.S.?

What makes the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport the top-ranked in the U.S.? NPR Morning Edition's Brian Naylor decided to fly here to find out. Read more.

Cincinnati plan to privatize parking sparks backlash

Cincinnati has plans to privatize parking, but not everyone is happy about the idea.

Read full story here.

Partnership for Sustainable Communities visits Cincinnati, Indianapolis

Last week, Deputy Secretary Porcari was in Cincinnati and Indianapolis, with his counterparts from HUD and EPA, reviewing both cities' progress on key projects funded by the federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities.

Read the full story here.

New road design planned in Northern Kentucky

A traffic flow design planned for Northern Kentucky aims to smooth the ride for travelers using a technique that’s new to the region.

The Kentucky Enquirer reported the double crossover diamond interchange at Ky. 536 and Interstate 71/75 in Boone County will be among the first of its kind in the area.

Read the full story here.

Delta: No reductions at CVG

Delta's Cincinnati hub will survive the demise of the its Cincinnati-based Comair regional subsidiary, airline officials say.
In announcing its shutdown of Comair, Delta pledged that "no reductions in the number of Delta flights are planned at Cincinnati as a result of this decision."

Read the full story here.

Cincinnati studying bike share program

Cincinnati is conducting a feasibility study on establishing a bike share program in the city. 

Melissa McVey with the Transportation and Engineering Department says the program would allow people to rent bicycles for short periods of time.

Read the full story here.

Cincinnati vs. Cincinnati

In a post on Cincinnati called “A Midwest Conundrum” the author noted the apparent disconnect between a place that has probably the best collection of assets of any city/region its size in America, and the long-term stagnation the region has experienced.

Read the full story here.

Five reasons to put the Queen City on your travel list

The selling points may not be beaches or sky-high geysers, but Cincy does have the mojo. Here are 5 reasons why you should add Cincinnati to your US travel list, including the American Sign Museum.

Read the full story here.

Cincinnati makes list of top riverfront towns

Cincinnati has taken an especially hands-on approach to reclaiming its waterfront, clearing a path through old highways and industrial parks. This fall, it's slated to open the first phase of a $120 million, 45-acre riverfront park at its center.

See the full list here.

Cincinnati may scrap parking minimums downtown

Cincinnati City Councilor Roxanne Qualls is leading the charge to abolish parking minimums for developers building homes in the downtown and Over-the-Rhine neighborhoods.

Read the full story here.

Cincinnati: A growing city

The only outsiders who regularly visited this notoriously violent part of the city were police. Perhaps that's why nobody seemed to care that Over-the-Rhine's crumbling, two- to five-story brick buildings, occupied largely by squatters and drug dealers, comprised the largest collection of 19th-century, Italianate architecture in America.
Read the full story here.

Road Trip! Destination: Cincinnati

Events calendars in Cincinnati most days are chock full of festivals, music jamborees and museum events from cultural staples such as the Cincinnati Ballet, Opera and Symphony. This year, the city will get a chance to poke its chest out a little farther than normal.

Read the full story here.

Smart Growth America interviews Mayor Mallory

Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory is on a mission to support economic development in his city, and he’s using smart growth and downtown development strategies to accomplish that goal.

Read the full story here.

Columbus Underground's roadtrip to OTR

Columbus Underground took a roadtrip to Over-the-Rhine last week. Check out their findings.

Read the full story here.

Cincinnati: beer, bourbon, ballet, Monet

I sometimes forget what a rich cultural resource we Lexingtonians have in Cincinnati, just 80 miles north of us. I am reminded of it every time I head there for a premier event, such as the recent performance by Shen Yun, the New York-based company famous for its classical Chinese ethnic and folk dancing.

Read the full story here.

US Airways to have Cincinnati-Washington flights

US Airways is launching a nonstop service between the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport and Reagan National Airport outside Washington. The airline on Monday said the service would begin in May.

Read the full story here.

Mile High Club booming in Cincinnati

At $425 a pop, what may be the nation's only Mile High Club has been quietly operating for more than 20 years at Cincinnati Municipal Lunken Airport. Business hit warp speed after Valentine's Day stories featuring Flamingo Air in local and national media.

Read the full story here.

Soapbox on Cincinnati Edition

Soapbox Cincinnati presented its 12 Things to Watch For in 2012 in its first issue of the year, and Managing Editor Elissa Yancey expounds upon those in a conversation with Mark Perzel.

Read the full story, and listen to the whole program, here.

Cincinnati voters clear the way for streetcar, joining national trend

This time it’s real.  Cincinnati voters have (again) defeated a misguided attempt to block the city’s new streetcar, which now will move forward and could be operational as early as 2013.

Read the full story here.

Nature trails can improve home's value

It turns out that living near Little Miami's Scenic Trail offers more than just natural beauty – it might also improve your home’s value. That’s the conclusion drawn by two University of Cincinnati researchers in a new report.

Read the full story here.

Obama takes jobs fight to his adversaries' turf

President Obama was back on the road on Thursday to sell his jobs plan — at an aging and overtaxed bridge connecting the home states of his chief Republican antagonists in Congress, Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio and Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate minority leader.

Read the whole story here.

Amp delivers its first electric Mercedes-Benz ML conversion

Amp Electric Vehicles, a Cincinnati company that removes the internal parts of combustion passenger cars and replaces them with electric powertrains, has delivered its first conversion of a Mercedes-Benz ML 350.  The conversion is part of a five-year contract between Amp Electric Vehicles and Northern Lights Energy of Iceland that will produce 1,000 electric vehicles. 

Read the full story here.

Awards Program names Cincinnati businesses and organizations "Bike Friendly Destinations"

Nearly 40 Cincinnati area businesses, organizations, and institutions were awarded as "Bike Friendly Destinations." Developed by Queen City Bike, this program encourages more people to travel by bicycle, benefitting the individual, destination, community and all of Cincinnati.

Read the full story here.

Ten best cities for commuters

Kiplinger selected its 10 Best Cities for Commuters, ranking Cincinnati at number seven. These cities have the easiest and most affordable commutes, while taking into consideration the population and low congestion costs. Cincinnati features two-bus services, and the future addition of the streetcar.

Read the full story here.

SORTA'S Colin Groth makes Mass Transit's 40 Under 40

MassTransit, sponsored by New Flyer, published its 2010 Top 40 Under 40 Award, recognizing the leadership and dedication of individuals in business. SORTA'S Colin Groth made the list, as he rose to the position of government relations director due to his commitment, professionalism, and work ethic with political environments of local, regional and national governments. Groth is now a part of the development of the intermodal transit center in Cincinnati. He is actively involved with the community and will help improve the public transportation system by meeting the community's needs and enhancing Cincinnati's competitiveness in the global economy.

Read the full story here.

Portland streetcar success has fueled interest elsewhere

The streetcar built in 2001 in Portland, Oregon has now inspired other cities, including Cincinnati, to build streetcars in a time of rebirth for the city. Portland's streetcar proved to be a success
by transforming a neighborhood with boutiques, condos, and restaurants. The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded 258.6 million dollars for streetcars in various cities.

Read the full story here.

American Airlines starts non-stop service from JFK to Cincinnati

American Airlines announced a daily non-stop service flight between New York and Cincinnati as well as Indianapolis and Norfolk. This addition allows more access to three key business cities for New York residents and also more access to international flights from JFK for Cincinnati residents.

Read the full story here.

CVG International Airport adds Air Canada

Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport regained service with Air Canada, offering two daily round trip flights to Toronto. This addition benefits local travelers because Toronto is a major business destination and a main international transfer point. It also shows the strong demand for air service in the local market as well as improvement in diversity of airlines at CVG.

Read the full story here.


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