You can read more here.
But we are going to get a streetcar in Cincinnati, so I hope it actually succeeds. We shall see. I highly doubt that we will get an honest answer two or three or 10 years from now when it comes time to evaluate the impact.
But I can guarantee that attempts will be made to extend the loop. Extending the streetcar to loop around the UC area, and reach all the way to the Zoo (as once promised) actually could serve a purpose. Between the riverfront and the zoo, a streetcar could actually take people to places that are too far to walk in 15 minutes. At an upfront cost of another couple hundred million dollars. Plus never-ending operating, repair and carriage replacement costs, just like other underfunded forms of public transit.
My point is...if people are serious about extending the streetcar, they need to get super serious about paying for it. A special tax district must be big enough and collect enough to cover the majority of the costs: other public subsidies should be gap-fillers at most. And it would be nice to lock down the predictable repair costs upfront.
Just remember, the streetcar is going to get old just like all other roads, bridges, sewers and other infrastructure that our society is unwilling to maintain and repair. The brakes will get squeaky. The ride will get herky-jerky. And damage from public use and abuse will become shamefully obvious LONG before the replacement cars come along. It won't be long until streetcar riding will be every bit as mundane and unpleasant as the bus or subway.
And count on this: every city council of the future will face a budget choice between paying upkeep on the streetcar or paying for some other new and shiny project. And every city council of the future will underfund the streetcar. The frequency will be cut. The fare hikes will get bigger and more controversial. The pay and benefit cuts for the operators will lead to bitter labor relations, and probably at least one strike. And soon enough, the Cincinnati streetcars will be just as forward-looking as the once-praised Skywalk system used to be.
My hope: that the juice keeps flowing for the electric cars (owned, leased, shared, whatever) that will actually take most people to ALL of the places they will need or want to go -- not just where the train tracks lead. Very little of that system will be dependent on massive new public spending. People will finance their own cars, and many will buy their own solar panels to fuel those cars. The only bureaucracy involved will be the semi-private utility providing power to the non-solar chargers and wiring and meter services for the rest.
Well, someday. i hope.