Posts Tagged ‘Transdev North America’

Cincinnati Streetcar Needs Ways to Boost Ridership, Revenue

June 2, 2018

The Cincinnati streetcar system is in trouble.

Since opening in September 2016, the Cincinnati Bell Connector has been plagued with disappointing ridership, slow service and ticket machine problems.

Ridership in January 2018 was half of what it was in January 2017.

The Cincinnati Enquirer noted that Kansas City, Missouri, opened a streetcar system at about the same time that is similar in structure as the Cincinnati Bell Connector, but has been far more successful.

Whereas the Cincinnati Bell Connector carried 578,641 passengers in 2017, Kansas City had 2,060,425 passengers.

The Enquirer said that although the streetcar has spurred economic development, there’s been no official measure of how much growth it has stimulated in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood or in downtown Cincinnati.

The streetcars themselves have experienced failures with their air compressors, heating, braking, propulsion and power and may need to be rebuilt.

There have been so many problems with the CAF-USA cars that the City of Cincinnati has stopped paying CAF to make repairs.

The Kansas City streetcars were also built by CAF but have had far fewer problems.

Transdev, the operator of the Cincinnati Bell Connector, has had problems staffing the system and its streetcar contract was bid at $3.3 million, which is less than what it’s costing Transdev to operate the system.

Advertising, naming rights and fare revenues have all been below estimates, causing the streetcar to operate at a deficit.

Advertising revenue has been nearly $150,000 short of projections and fare revenue has come up $28,107 short.

The task of reversing the fortunes of the Cincinnati Bell Connector has been given to Cincinnati Councilman Greg Landsman, who has issued a five-point plan to bolster ridership and improve finances and management of the system.

Landsman has proposed that the city hire a new director to provide cohesive leadership, create a nonprofit agency to oversee the project, complete a traffic study, develop a marketing campaign, and resolve issues that continue to block streetcars from moving.

Landsman’s ideas will be reviewed as council goes through the 2019 budget process that must be complete by June 30.

The streetcar was originally designed to link downtown Cincinnati and the University of Cincinnati. But controversy over its development led to it terminating in Over-the-Rhine. As operated today, it runs on a 3.6-mile loop.

An Enquirer story about the performance of the Cincinnati Bell Connector to date noted that another issue facing the system is that it has three bosses.

Issues facing the streetcar network might be resolved by the city, the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority or Transdev.

In speaking to the council recently, Landsman, who was elected last November, said his approach is the result of having fresh eyes.

“A lot of people are understandably exhausted, having been working on this for years. We like solving problems and this particular issue has plenty of problems to solve, he said.

The idea of creating a non-profit agency to run the Cincinnati Bell Connector is being borrowed from Kansas City, where a nonprofit agency that runs the streetcar has a board of directors of 12 people, all of whom live or work along the streetcar route.

The Enquirer said having such a board to oversee the streetcar would provide needed leadership, noting that Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley isn’t a fan of the streetcar and unsuccessfully sought to halt its development in 2013.

“The project needs a leader,” said John Schneider, an activist who backed the streetcar’s development. “It needs somebody at city hall who can design the streetcar for success.”

One way that Kansas City has stimulated ridership of its streetcar line is offering free rides.

Balky ticket machines have hindered ridership on the Cincinnati Bell Connector although the bugs with the machine have been fixed.

Many of the mechanical problems that have plagued the Cincinnati Bell Connector streetcars arose last January during harsh winter weather.

The car air compressors experienced problems that meant the cars could not run reliably in the cold and for four days during a particular cold snap no cars ran at all.

Cincinnati City Manager Harry Black has said the mechanical problems are fleet wide and the long-term solution is to redesign certain systems on the cars.

“CAF built these vehicles and must fix them, and we are fully engaging them including through the City Solicitor’s office,” Black said.

Staff turnover at operator Transdev has exacerbated the problems of the Cincinnati streetcar, which is now on its fifth Cincinnati general manager and fifth maintenance manager.

The turnover in top management has been due to such issues as retirements, health issues and firings.

Last December all four maintenance workers were on leave, although the company says they are all back on the job and the workforce has been stabilized.

A consultant’s report estimated it would cost $3.3 million a year to run the streetcar, including having wait times of 10 minutes between trains at peak-use times.

But that project turned out to be in error and more cars have had to be run in order to meet that 10-minute target, which has driven up costs.

“Every streetcar project has a unique set of startup challenges and the Cincinnati Bell Connector is no different,” said Bernie McCall, chief operating officer Transdev’s rail division. “Transdev will continue to deploy the needed resources and work with our partners at the city, SORTA and CAF to ensure the Connector runs effectively and safely.”

Cincinnati Streetcar Added Weekend Trips

May 25, 2017

Robust ridership has prompted the Cincinnati Bell Connector streetcar system to run additional cars on weekends.

Since opening in September 2016, there had been 511,196 passenger trips over the 3.6-mile streetcar line through May 16.

Transdev, the streetcar line’s operator, said weekend ridership levels have been 300 percent to more than 500 percent higher than what transit officials projected.

The Cincinnati streetcar line connects the city’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood with the riverfront.

Cincy Streetcar Carried 330,737 Since Opening

January 13, 2017

The Cincinnati streetcar line carried 330,737 passengers during its first four months of service.

CVG streetcarThe Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority said the 3.6 mile Cincinnati Bell Connector had ridership of 52,209 in December.

The line opened on Sept. 9 and is owned and funded by the City of Cincinnati. SORTA manages the system while contractor Transdev operates it.

Cincy Streetcar Names New GM

January 7, 2017

Luke McCaul has been named general manager of the Cincinnati Bell Connector streetcar system.

Luke Mc

Luke McCaul

He replaces Mark Young, who has been interim GM after the November resignation of John Lee.

The streetcar system is managed by Transdev under a five-year contract. Operations began last July.

McCaul served as general manager of operations for Pan Am Railways and oversaw the daily operation of 136 Boston-area passenger trains and more than 60 freight trains.

He started at Pan Am in 2002 as train operations manager and also has held positions of assistant director and general superintendent.

Cincinnati Streetcar GM Retires

November 5, 2016

The general manager of the Cincinnati Bell Connector streetcar system has resigned.

CVG streetcarJohn Lee stepped down from his post has resigned and has been replaced as interim GM by Mark Young. Both men are employees of Transdev, which operates the system under contract.

Lee came to Cincinnati in September when public service began after serving as GM for a light-rail system in Escondido, California.

A Transdev spokesperson said Lee had decided to retire from the company and that his family still lives on the West Coast.

Young, previously was Transdev’s national streetcar mobilization manager, GM for the Atlanta Streetcar and director of safety and security for the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority.

In an unrelated development, singer, actor and Cincinnati native Nick Lachey has agreed to become the voice of the streetcar, telling passengers which stop they are approaching.

“As a native Cincinnatian and someone who went to school in OTR (Over the Rhine) for many years, I am honored to be a part of the Cincinnati Bell Connector and the role that it will play in the revitalization of this great neighborhood,” Lachey said in a statement.

His voice will be heard aboard the streetcars by the end of the year.

Cincy Streetcar Weekend Service Boosted

October 11, 2016

Prompted by higher than expected ridership, the operator of the Cincinnati Bell Connector streetcar has increased weekend service.

CVG streetcarTransdev said weekend ridership has been 300 percent to 500 percent higher than projected by the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority.

The increase in service was also in response to threats by city officials to take Transdev to court if it didn’t boost service. The city would argue that the operator wasn’t meeting its contractual obligations.

The city’s contract with Transdev mandates that passengers shouldn’t wait more than 15 minutes for a streetcar to arrive at a stop.

Cincinnati Streetcar Service Begins Today

September 9, 2016

The Cincinnati streetcar system, now known as the Cincinnati Bell Connector, will begin revenue service today (Aug. 9, 2016).

CVG streetcarActually, no revenue will be collected as passengers will ride for free during the first weekend of operation.

The 3.6 mile line links downtown Cincinnati with the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood.

For the first weekend of service, the cars will run from noon until 1 a.m. today, from 8 a.m. until 1 a.m. on Saturday and from 9 a.m. until 11 p.m. on Sunday.

The streetcar is owned by the city, managed by the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority and operated by Transdev.

Underwriting the free first weekend are Believe in Cincinnati, CAF USA, Cincinnati Bell, Fred Craig, The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile Jr./US Bank Foundation, and the Joseph Automotive Group.

M1 Rail Awards Operating Contract

July 6, 2016

Detroit M1 Rail has awarded Transdev North America a $15.5 million five-year contract to operate and maintain Detroit’s streetcar line.

M-1 Rail logoTransdev, which is based near Chicago, will oversee operations and maintenance including hiring and training. The five-year contract includes an optional five-year extension.

The 3.3 mile Q Line will operate along Woodward Avenue from Larned Street to West Grand Boulevard

Serving 20 stations, the streetcar service is expected to begin in late 2017.

“In selecting Transdev, we are bringing a premiere international provider of streetcar operations services to Detroit,” said Paul Childs, chief operating officer for M-1 RAIL. “Our partnership with Transdev ensures the Q Line will provide a safe, reliable and best-in-class transit experience for our ridership.”