Ridership on the Connector notched an all-time annual record of 846,622 passengers in 2022. That tally significantly outpaced the previous annual record of 571,601 passengers recorded in 2017, the streetcar’s first full calendar year of operation.
“This new annual record is a gratifying accomplishment,” said Lori Burchett, deputy director of streetcar services for the City of Cincinnati Department of Transportation & Engineering (DOTE). “It is consistent with the monthly records we hit throughout 2022.”
The streetcar hit a ridership record every month in 2022 except in June, which totaled 49,627 passengers. The temporary drop was due to the partial collapse of a building adjacent to the station stop at 12th and Main which necessitated suspension of streetcar service in the Central Business District between June 12 and July 1.
The streetcar’s upward ridership trend started in November 2021. By comparison, the streetcar’s previous best months occurred mostly during its first full year of passenger service starting in September 2016.
Please see the chart below for more details.
Burchett credits the increased ridership in 2022 with streetcar crews and city departments doing an effective job maintaining daily operations, passenger safety and reliable customer service, as well as the easing of pandemic restrictions and the streetcar being free to ride.
The streetcar, which travels 3.6 miles between OTR and The Banks via the Central Business District, is especially popular during big events such as BLINK, Taste of Cincinnati and Oktoberfest because it is a convenient way to travel from one end of the city’s urban core to the other, Burchett explained. BLINK took place in October, the best single month for ridership in 2022 at 103,700.
The city took over day-to-day management of the streetcar in January 2020 from SORTA and it has been fare-free since September 2020, when it returned to service after a five-month hiatus due to Covid pandemic restrictions.
Monthly Streetcar Ridership Records
|New Record||Passenger Count||Previous Record||Passenger Count|
|December 2022||69,303||December 2021||55,105|
|November 2022||64,675||November 2021||52,440|
|October 2022||103,700||October 2016||82, 934|
|September 2022||88,992||September 2016||75,485|
|August 2022||83,078||August 2019||56,402|
|July 2022||89,074||July 2017||61,404|
|May 2022*||81,175 (Previous: 81,724)||May 2017||53,116|
|April 2022*||65,352 (Previous: 66,391)||April 2017||49,966|
|March 2022*||58,874 (Previous: 58,882)||March 2017||37,471|
|February 2022||49,641||February 2017||36,681|
|January 2022||43,131||January 2017||35,334|
|December 2021||55,105||December 2016||52,209|
|November 2021||52,440||November 2016||49,920|
* Denotes audited results versus previously reported passenger counts.
Please note: The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) requires the city to track, audit and submit ridership to its National Transit Database (NTD). The city, which uses one of the most conservative methods for reporting streetcar ridership, derives its figures for passenger boardings from infrared sensors known collectively as the Automatic Passenger Counting system (APC). An APC sensor is mounted above every door on all five streetcars.
The city also audits its APC figures to certify to the FTA that the system is accurate. The city does so by periodically conducting manual passenger counts and comparing those samples to the corresponding APC figures.
Among the metrics measured for ridership, the sensors count each passenger as a single boarding except when unable to distinguish between one or multiple passengers. In those cases, a given passenger boarding is discounted to zero, which results in lower-than-actual passenger counts.
Read more about the streetcar at www.cincinnati-oh.gov/streetcar.