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.