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Officially, the idea is called Hop on Cincinnati. But one backer says the plan presented today to the Hamilton County Transportation District would be an uber-cool, uniquely Cincy, entertainment/art on wheels, multi-loop trackless trolley.
Cincinnati businessmen Gregg Fusano and Tom Powers say their proposal would link the Banks, downtown hotels and theaters, Mt. Adams, the Horseshoe Casino and could also connect up with the Cincinnati Streetcar once that is built. "Hop on Cincinnati" is similar to the Southbank Shuttle, which connects Newport and Covington with Downtown Cincinnati. That shuttle carries more than half a million riders a year, at a cost of one dollar per ride.
The proposal was given to the Transportation Improvement District (TID) because federal money would be needed to buy 16 shuttle buses (trackless trolleys), and a local agency sponsor is needed to apply for those funds. No decision yet from the TID, although agency chair Todd Portune indicated he favors the plan.
Startup costs are estimated at $10.7 million, annual operating expenses at $4.425 million. Backers believe half the operating costs could be covered by riders, corporate sponsorships, and perhaps an entertainment surcharge. Local governments would have to kick in the rest. Hop on Cincys Gregg Fusano said the vehicles could be rolling entertainment spots as well as transit shuttles, with musicians, dancers, or flat screen tvs.
Supporters say the trackless trolley plan will help Cincinnati attract and retain young business professionals. Theres lots of cities which havent done enough reviving their city, said Tom Powers. We dont want to be one of those cities in the future.
A similar plan had been previously floated by some citizens as a cheaper alternative to the streetcar. Councilmember Larie Quinlivan, a TID member, wanted to make sure the new "Hop on Cincinnati" would not hop on the streetcar and take riders away from that Banks-to-Over-the-Rhine project. "Hop on Cincinnati" backers say the trackless trolleys could link to the streetcar as well, and could actually help.