Tuesday, August 11, 2009

All Aboard Ohio: Cincinnati anti-rail amendment 'sad and disappointing'

At its August 8 meeting, the board of directors of passenger rail advocacy group All Aboard Ohio unanimously passed a resolution opposing a possible November 3 charter amendment that would require a public vote before Cincinnati could spend capital funds to acquire right-of-way or construct improvements for any passenger rail project.

In its resolution, All Aboard Ohio noted the high costs of owning a car, the large number of households in Cincinnati that don't own a car, the inaccessibility of suburban jobs to low-income urban residents, and the region's high ozone pollution.

"The board opposes the proposed City Charter amendment as it is punitive and discriminatory against a city-building mode of transport like passenger rail service while other modes of travel that siphoned jobs, residents and wealth from the city will continue to be funded by taxpayers in the City of Cincinnati," the resolution said.

The board believes that all types of passenger rail address these issues, and All Aboard Ohio president Bill Hutchison says that the Southwestern Ohio Green Party and the Cincinnati chapter of the NAACP – part of the WeDemandAVote.com coalition that gathered signatures for the ballot issue – should take these social and environmental arguments into account.

"This is very sad to see this happening," he said. "They're really not thinking this through. Passenger rail has a strong record of bringing economic vitality and environmental quality to urban centers throughout the world. For groups who claim to want these characteristics for Cincinnati yet seek an anti-rail charter amendment is very disappointing."

The board also objected to the amendment's language, which could derail the state's 3C Corridor high-speed passenger rail plan, already under study.

According to All Aboard Ohio, passage of the charter amendment would create a barrier to investing in rail passenger and transit services that have brought billions of dollars in new investment, created jobs, and enhance livability in over three dozen cities and metropolitan areas in the United States over the last three decades.

"If the proposed amendment is approved at a time when federal and state of Ohio transportation policies and Amtrak are committed to improving and expanding the nation's intercity rail passenger network Cincinnati may be reducing its opportunity for growth of rail service and placing the present limited Amtrak service to the city at risk," the resolution said.

Earlier this month, WeDemandAVote.com submitted petition forms containing 11,530 signatures, but the charter amendment has yet to be approved for the ballot.

Previous reading on BC:
Monzel asks Cincinnati to cease and desist all streetcar activity (8/10/09)
Partnership selected to manage streetcar project (6/15/09)
Cincinnatians for Progress has new website, endorsements; WeDemandAVote.com two-thirds of way to ballot (6/9/09)
Give Back Cincinnati sessions to focus on streetcars (1/29/09)
City will issue RFP for Uptown streetcar route analysis (1/26/09)