The Cincinnati Bell Connector.

Cincinnati streetcar hitting the rails again after spending days out of service

CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati's streetcar was up and running again Monday morning, after all five streetcar vehicles were taken out of service on Wednesday evening due to mechanical issues.

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SORTA, the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority, blamed manufacturing and design defects for the equipment failures. Officials also said recent below-zero temperatures only made the problems worse.

"This is unacceptable," City Manager Harry Black said of the shutdowns. 

According to Black, the city has been withholding $4 million in payments from streetcar manufacturer CAF since November 2017 and will do so until it resolves the mechanical issues.

Over the weekend, Metro operated buses on the streetcar routes while repairs were being made.

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"Everyone expects it to work and to work well, and there are a lot of really good people trying to make that happen. And for the most part what we need more than anything else is everyone to, you know, problem solve each issue until we've run out of problems to solve," said city councilman Greg Landsman.

Complicating matters, a car struck an out-of-service Cincinnati Bell Connector streetcar during a test run Friday afternoon, knocking it off the tracks and injuring the two people inside.

The crash occurred at the intersection of Elm and Liberty streets; the two people injured were a streetcar operator and a trainee taking the vehicle for a test drive. Both received treatment at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center after the collision.

"We've done both extensive training both with our team, with Transdev, and then joint exercises with the fire department and the police department and Metro to prepare for an incident such as this," said Paul Grether, the Metro's director of rail services.

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