Bringing back the Cincinnati Urban Neighborhood Transit


I was driving up Gilbert Avenue from downtown recently, noticing the new median improvements being installed. Casually examining the work, I saw what appeared to be railroad tracks running through what would have been the middle of the road.

Turns out the backhoe digging up the road so construction workers could fill up the new medians with dirt so, presumably, some vegetation would grow in it, had dug up the old Cincinnati Urban Neighborhood Transit lines that ran up to Walnut Hills.

That sight really got me imagining how neat it would have been had the streetcar never ceased operation. We’d be like the San Francisco of the Midwest (couple that with our rainless weather this summer, and we’re already pretty close). It also sort of tugs at the possibility a new Cincinnati Urban Neighborhood Transit line from downtown up to to Findlay Market and maybe eventually up to Clifton would look like.

Author: Joe Wessels

Joe Wessels is a freelance journalist and photographer. Wessels covers local news events for Thomson Reuters news service and features for's Cincinnati Guide site, plus is the executive director of hyperlocal news site, He wrote for The Cincinnati Post, covering Cincinnati City Hall and Hamilton County government and wrote a weekly political column, which continued weekly at Cincinnati CityBeat. Previously, he was a reporter for the Cincinnati Business Courier and writes or has written for several publications in Cincinnati and around the country including The Cincinnati Enquirer, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Cincinnati Magazine, Cincy Magazine and the Sacramento News & Review. He is a native of Colerain Township, one of Cincinnati's western suburbs, and now lives in Over-the-Rhine near downtown Cincinnati. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and a journalism writing certificate from the University of Cincinnati. He also graduated from Colerain High School, is an avid photographer, news junkie and was once a roller rink disc jockey, and sometimes rides a scooter around town.

4 thoughts on “Bringing back the Cincinnati Urban Neighborhood Transit”

  1. Joe, last week making my way up Gilbert while leaving a message. I found myself speechless for a few seconds, my mind imagined the former glory days when these tracks were alive. I had to apologize, “Wow, I just saw the old tracks in the exposed street.” I couldn’t care what the person thought… It was so great to see.

  2. Looking at the votes from the failed MetroMoves levy in 2002, the most viable route for our first light rail line would be Downtown through Brodway Commons up Gilbert to (near) Xavier and along the north side of Dana through Evanston, Rookwood, Hyde Park Plaza and Oakley to, say, Erie Avenue. It’s a single jurisdiction. If you add up the votes of the wards along this alignment plus Uptown which could be served by a streetcar on MLK to Heights, Ludlow or both, they voted 51-49% for better transit, including light rail and streetcars, in 2002.

    Food for thought.

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