SORTA, the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (also known as Metro), has proposed three service changes as part of a “rebalancing” effort that will see existing resources shifted to different routes that promise higher ridership. This week the organization is holding a public forum for citizens to comment on the changes.
A new express service from Western Hills to Uptown will be funded by cutting non-rush hour service on the #1 Museum Center – Mt. Adams – Zoo. Although the Zoo can also be reached by the #78, the #1 bus provides Metro’s only access to Union Terminal and Mt. Adams. [see route]
SORTA has also proposed the elimination of the #62 Job Connection and #62X, which link Government Square with industrial parks in Butler County. These routes will be replaced by an extension of the #23X Tri-County Express north to Fairfield. [see route]
The route reorganization was recommended by the Butler County Regional Transit Authority, which funds the lightly patronized routes. BCRTA funding will be shifted to the proposed extension of the #23X Tri-County Express, which currently operates entirely within Hamilton County.
This situation highlights why Cincinnati Metro is unable to expand suburban express service: those routes which serve exurban Butler, Warren and Clermont Counties must be funded by their respective transit agencies.
Cincinnati Metro is itself funded primarily by a .3% income tax paid by those who work within Cincinnati city limits. This tax was approved by Cincinnati voters in 1973, and was intended to temporarily fund the bus system until funding for a countywide system was secured. Hamilton County property or sales taxes that would have funded a countywide bus system and rail transit networks failed at the polls in 1971, 1979, 1980, and 2002.
These three proposals have not been finalized, and Metro has invited the public to discuss service changes with officials between 11am and 4pm on Friday, June 10 at Metro’s offices on the 12th floor of the Gwynne Building, 602 Main St. All comments received by 4 p.m. on June 10, 2011 will become part of the official public meeting record and will be considered by SORTA. Comments may be submitted in the following ways:
* Online comment form
* E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
* Comment forms on buses, at the Government Square information booth, and at the sales office in the Mercantile Building arcade
* Mail to SORTA, Public Meeting Comments, 602 Main Street, Suite 1100, Cincinnati, OH 45202. You can print and send this comment form (PDF).
* Fax to 513-632-9202
The proposed changes will be reflected in Metro’s Google Transit program which is now an up and running feature, connecting riders with an easy way to access trip information.
Union Terminal bus picture by Jake Mecklenborg for UrbanCincy.