Regional SORTA agreement reached

At at 10am meeting this morning City and County leaders announced an agreement over an expanded transit authority. Currently the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA), which operates Metro, is bounded by Hamilton County’s boundaries.

This agreement will for the first time extend their jurisdiction beyond Hamilton County and into Butler, Warren and Clermont Counties. This sets the course for expanded transit service into those surrounding areas underneath one unified authority.

This reorganization, of SORTA, has long been an issue with City Council member John Cranley, County Commissioner Todd Portune and has been championed by Mayor Mark Mallory. These three along with SORTA Board president Melody Sawyer Richardson addressed the media at this morning session.

The reorganized SORTA will now be known as the Greater Cincinnati Regional Transit Authority, and will have a 13 member board made up of 7 members appointed by the City of Cincinnati and the remaining six from Hamilton County. As of yet, the Business Courier has reported that no other elected officials from surrounding counties have committed to participate in the new regional system.

Of those 6 County appointees, three will be selected “with input” from Butler, Warren and Clermont Counties. If those counties decide to formally join the new authority they would then be able to directly appoint board members. The majority control is up for grabs with the City of Cincinnati maintaining that majority for now. If another county or city decides to contribute more than 50% of the authority’s budget then they will gain majority control.

The catch here is that those contributions can be measured either through the entities direct contribution or by measuring the total fare revenues paid by that entities constituents. It could also be determined on a per-capita basis of the entities share of their state and federal transit dollars allocated to the Greater Cincinnati Regional Transit Authority.

Looking the Queen Up & Down

I was so lucky to be extended the offer to go up on the Atrium II tower’s top level terraces. There were some terrific views that I had not seen before. I was able to get some great aerial shots of construction progress at The Banks and Queen City Square.

The day was somewhat gray, but the photos turned out pretty well considering the conditions. I especially found the views of the Licking River to be most enjoyable, as it is not often that you can get an overview of all its twists and turns through the hills and valleys of Northern Kentucky. Feel free to view the slideshow below, go to the Photobucket gallery, or read through the annotated photo thread I’ve posted on UrbanOhio.


Two-Wheeled Goodness

For the past month, the City conducted an online poll, gathering input from drivers of scooters and motorcycles regarding where they would like to park in the downtown. Given the rise in gasoline prices and environmental concerns, and the fact that many scooters can achieve over 100 miles-per-gallon, the uptick in demand should be followed up with additional services and facilities for this mode of transport.

The benefits are immediate: scooters and other lightweight two-wheeled vehicles take up far less room than an automobile. They cause far less wear and tear to roads as they are vastly lighter — in fact, many can be picked up with two bare hands. They require less fuel, and four-cycle motors pollute far less than automobiles.

As a result of public input, the city unveiled its first dedicated, public scooter and motorcycle parking in the city on October 23 at the corner of 8th and Vine (GoogleMap) streets in downtown. Noted as the first of its kind in Cincinnati, it will certainly not be the last; four other such locations will soon grace our downtown streets with the hope that the low-cost initiative is expanded elsewhere.

Unfortunately, many of these parking spaces look temporary. Painted stripes on the ground and signage on poles may allocate room for parking, but it does little when you pass by it and note a sport-utility vehicle or commercial van occupying the entire strip. Installing low-cost curbs or barriers along the street can solve this issue, and will not only increase safety, but institute a psychological barrier that these parking areas are permanent, and are dedicated solely to the two-wheeled variant.

Now only if the city was more proactive in applying the same enthusiasm to bicycles, we would have a much more intermodal city.

If you would like to see this program extended to your neighborhood, or somewhere near your business/residence, then please email the City at twowheeler@cincinnati-oh.gov.

The Future of the City – Monocle

The Future of the City was the theme of the inaugural Monocle + Killik debate held in London. The goal was to look at how to make a city truly livable. The session offers unique perspectives, thoughts, and views from a global perspective. Monocle is a magazine and website founded by Tyler Brûlé, a Canadian journalist and entrepreneur.

You can watch the debate/webprogram here:

Fountain Square Broomball League Returns

The popular Fountain Square Broomball League (FSBL) is returning this year. This will be the third season for the league and it will include a total of 32 teams with up to 12 players per team. The 32 teams will be broken down equally into an Advanced and Beginners leagues.

The 32 teams will be selected by lottery and announced before Thanksgiving. The broomball teams are coed and are required to have three women on the ice out of the six total players.

One of the coolest things about the league is that the you’re playing on Fountain Square. Your games are broadcast on the video board, which doubles as the scoreboard for the game, and their is the usual crowd hanging around the Square.

The season is six weeks long starting on January 5th, with games being played on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. The championship games, for both levels, will be held on Wednesday, February 18th. Sign-ups for the 2009 FSBL begin Monday, October 27th and will go until Friday, November 14th at 5pm.

‘Bite Me’ Ball at the CAC

If you’re looking for something fun and interesting to do this Halloween night then check out the CAC’s ‘Bite Me’ Ball. The after(life) costume party at the CAC will immediately follow the Cincinnati Ballet’s performance of DRACULA at the Aronoff Center across the street.

It is a costume event so come in your most outrageous, horrifying, or funny outfit. There will be costume judging at the door and prizes will be given out later in the evening courtesy of The Container Store.

The event will start at 9pm and last until around 1am. There will be food and drinks, at the event, from places like A La Carte Catering, BlackFinn, Jeff Ruby’s, Oceanaire, Palomino, RebBull, and Peroni. The cost is $20 for CAC and ballet ticket holders, and $25 for general admittance. You should most certainly get your tickets ahead of time and can do so by ordering them through the CAC’s website.