With Cincinnati's newest street cars taking to the tracks on Friday, Tom and I arrived at Findlay Market about noon on Saturday ready to take a ride. Currently five streetcars operate on a 3.6 mile downtown track. They'll operate up to 18 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Regular (and paid) operation begins Monday but we, and hoards of others, enjoyed the weekend ride for free.
Self-service kiosks are located at 18 stops along the route. Planners say this downtown loop will service 70,000 potential riders.
On Saturday, freebies were passed out (different ones at every stop, I believe). Tom and I both got stickers which we placed on our t-shirts.
We didn't know how long the wait would be for the first streetcar to show up. But it wouldn't be long.
Electronic signs - both at the stops and on the streetcars - indicate where the cars are located and the approximate times of arrival.
The stops (to the right of Tom) are glass-enclosed (or merely covered) so riders can stay out of the weather.
Another freebie I was given. There was a route map printed on the back.
You can buy tickets at any stop using cash, credit cards or - I believe - your smartphone.
And here comes the streetcar ...
We're on-board - and so are plenty of others. Eventually we'll be packed like sardines, surely well beyond the maximum capacity of the streetcars. But, hey!, it's free and everyone wants to see what the electric ride feels like. The acceleration is fast and you really do have to hang on.
Tom's found a good spot, wedged near a door. I'm on the opposite side.
We're heading south. Findlay Market is near the northern point of the loop. The Banks, near the Ohio River is near the southern point. In between, the streetcar passes (and stops) at Music Hall, the public library, Washington Park and Fountain Square and plenty more.
We returned to our starting point in about an hour (I understand the route takes as little as 35 minutes).
After we returned home, I heard that service was halted in the late afternoon due to a bomb threat. That's the problem with any popular venue and the number of crazy people living among us.
For information on the Cincinnati Bell Connector, including a detailed route map, click here.