Final Designs Revealed for Long-Envisioned Northside Transit Center

One of Cincinnati’s most popular neighborhoods will soon get its very own transit hub.

With more than 13,000 people boarding or exiting buses every day, Northside has long been one of the region’s busiest transit hubs. This is partially due to the neighborhood’s high population and business density, but also because of the numerous transfers from the eight bus routes there (15x, 16, 17, 19, 20, 23x, 27, 51).

This high transit ridership also creates an odd conversion of buses from all over the city. In an effort to clean up the operation of these bus routes, the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority has long been trying to streamline and enhance operations at Knowlton’s Corner.

After years of work, that vision is finally becoming reality with the $320,000 Northside Transit Center.

“Northside has been working to improve bus traffic through the neighborhood for most of two decades, and the pieces are finally falling into place,” said Ollie Kroner, President of the Northside Community Council.

“Metro presented preliminary plans to the community in July. I would say we are a hard group to impress, but their drawings really exceeded expectations,” Kroner continued. “This should be good for commuters, and also good for our business district.”

Its location is further complimented by the nearly location of a large Cincy Red Bike Station at Hoffner Park.

Cincinnati-based MSA Architects has completed its designs for the new transit hub in the heart of the Northside business district immediately south of the recently completed $15 million Gantry Apartments development. The new facility will boast dedicated bus lanes, boarding platforms, passenger shelters, bike racks and lockers, and real-time arrival technology.

The plan also calls for a significant upgrade and expansion of an adjacent parking lot, which SORTA officials envision as also serving as a miniature park-and-ride facility with 18 allocated spaces.

Project officials say that the Northside Transit Center project is expected to be completed by late 2017.

Larger Implications
Northside has become the center point for the city as hit-and-runs with people walking and biking have increased. In September, this even led to the community organizing public demonstrations urging City Hall to reduce the speed limit through the business district, while also committing to other safety improvements city-wide.

The implementation of the Northside Transit Center will significantly help consolidate bus traffic through the popular business district, while also create a safe and hospitable place for people to wait for their transit connections.

“We have the second busiest transit hub in the city after Government Square, in a neighborhood that was built before we had cars,” Kroner told UrbanCincy. “The transit hub should make riding the bus easier, more comfortable, and safer in Northside.”

While the City of Cincinnati has not committed to a Vision Zero campaign, or an official Complete Streets policy, residents continue to call for such measures.

Meanwhile, the move also comes as Metro attempts to reinvent its region-wide bus system in order to better connect people with jobs. Historically, many bus systems relied on what is called a spoke-and-hub system that ran all routes to a central downtown transit center. This train of thought has changed as cities have become increasingly more mixed-use and diverse.

Metro officials plan to unveil a new regional transit plan in early 2017, and may possibly put a transit tax increase before votes next November to help implement the recommendations laid out in that plan.

Running Time Adjustments Go Into Effect For 9 Express Metro Routes on Monday

Following the re-routing of numerous express bus routes through the central business district earlier this year, Metro is now also making minor running time adjustments to many of these same routes.

The changes will go into effect on Monday, June 20, and will impact Metro’s express routes to Tri-County (23X), Mt. Lookout (25X), Milford (29X), Montana (40X), West Chester (42X), Sharonville (67), Kings Island (71X), Delhi (77X) and Eastgate (82X).

The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority did not offer an explanation for the changes, but it is normal for the transit agency to make adjustments such as this in order to improve efficiencies or avoid service conflicts.

Commuters looking to adjust their schedules to the new timetables can do so by viewing the new schedules on Metro’s website, or by using one of the real-time transit data apps now available to Cincinnati-area bus riders.

Metro To Break Ground on $1.2 Million Oakley Transit Center Next Summer

At its 2015 State of Metro meeting on Friday, Dwight Ferrell announced that the region’s largest transit agency will be build a new transit center in Oakley, along with a variety of other transit improvements in the immediate area.

The $1.2 million project will get started next summer and be built along the Isben Avenue, just east of Marburg Avenue. The location is in the middle of an area that has been completely transformed over the past two decades, including such projects as Center of Cincinnati and Oakley Station.

The project is part of a larger effort by Metro to overhaul its regional bus system from a traditional hub-and-spoke model, which focused on moving people in and out of the center city, to one that has more flexibility and connects more people, more directly, with job centers throughout the region.

“We are always looking ahead and planning for the future needs of this community,” SORTA Board Chair Jason Dunn said in a prepared statement. “Our goal is to continue to operate efficiently while constantly working to improve service.”

This particular project directly addresses the new vision for Metro by significantly enhancing transit service to an estimated 7,100 jobs in the nearby area, major shopping destinations and the Crossroads megachurch. It also builds on other recent transit hub projects like the Glenway Crossing Transit Center and Uptown Transit District, and the planned Northside Transit Center and Walnut Hills Transit District.

Metro officials say that the Oakley Transit Center will consist of four boarding bays, park-and-ride spaces for commuters, enhanced transit shelters and wayfinding, real-time arrival screens, and a ticketing kiosk like those at Government Square and the Uptown Transit District.

As of now, the improvements made as part of the Oakley Transit Center will immediately improve service for routes 4, 11, 12X, 41 and 51.

While Metro has stated that they are currently short on capital funding for upgrading their fleet, the funds for this project were provided by the Federal Surface Transportation Program, along with some local funds.

Metro Proposing To Alter 14 Express Bus Routes Through Downtown

Metro will hold an open house on Thursday to share a variety of proposed changes to the routing of express commuter bus routes through downtown. Officials with the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority say that the re-routings simplify their operations and make the routes more easily understandable for riders.

There are some 14 express routes that have been identified for these changes. In many cases, the routes come into the downtown area one way in the morning, and depart a different way in the evening.

The express routes are those that primarily impact those commuting into the center city from outlying suburbs, so the meeting time has been scheduled during the middle of the workday so that those commuters can easily attend and provide feedback.

The proposed changes would greatly simplify many of the routes, thus allowing for some stops to be eliminated, while others are relocated. The end result should enable faster and more reliable operations through the center city.

The recommendations come as the region’s largest transit provider is working to both expand and reform existing operations in order to improve its bus service operations. It also comes at a time when Metro is gathering public feedback with regard to what kinds of improvements existing and would be transit riders would like to see made.

The open house will take place from 10am to 2pm on Thursday, November 5 in the boardroom of Metro’s main office, which is located on the 12th floor of 602 Main Street.

In addition to large posters of the proposed route changes, which are all made available at the end of this story, Metro’s planning staff will be on-hand to answer any related questions. Those unable to attend the open house in person are encouraged to email comments to routecomments@go-metro.com or submit comments through an online submission form. All comments received prior to 5pm on Thursday will become part of the official project record.

Following this public feedback period, transit planners will final revisions and begin putting together an implementation plan. Based on the current schedule, Metro officials believe the changes can be implemented by March 2016.


Bengals Partnering With Miller Lite to Offer Free Bus Rides For Home Opener

Free Metro Rides for BengalsThe Bengals will have their season home opener this Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium. While a sellout crowd is not expected, tens of thousands of football fans are still expected to make the trip to the central riverfront in order to attend the game or participate in nearby festivities.

As is to be expected, many of those people will be drinking alcohol. This presents a business opportunity for nearby restaurants and bars, but it also presents a challenge for law enforcement as the likelihood of people driving while under the influence increases.

In order to help combat that, Miller Lite is partnering with the Bengals to provide free rides on all Metro bus routes on Sunday.

This is the 28th year for the program, and this season Miller Lite is partnering with six NFL cities. In total the program has come to 20 cities and provided approximately 4.8 million free rides.

“We’re excited to work together with local public transit companies, our distributor partners and our NFL alliance partners to remind fans that the best moments of the game are those enjoyed responsibly,” a Miller Lite representative told UrbanCincy. “We’re happy to begin a new partnership with Metro and hope to grow our relationship in the future.”

While the free rides will only be available for this Sunday’s home opener, Metro officials are hoping it makes people aware of the transit alternatives available for getting to and from all Bengals games.

Those who wish to take advantage of the free rides need only to get on the bus during regular service hours. No game ticket or verification will be necessary.

The Bengals won their first game of the season in Oakland against the Raiders, and will host the San Diego Chargers this Sunday at 1pm. Tickets are still available and can be purchased online or at the Paul Brown Stadium ticket office.