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New express bus routes fall victim to Kasich’s $70M transit cut

Ohio Governor John Kasich (R) cut $50 million in funding for transit agencies across the state last week. As a result, newly planned express bus service linking Western Hills, West Chester and Liberty Township with Uptown and the University of Cincinnati will now be cancelled.

Ohio Governor John Kasich (R) was quick to give away a $400 million federal investment in Ohio for high speed rail to California and Florida. And now it seems as if his opposition to transport extends beyond high speed rail and includes all forms of transit.

Last week Kasich announced he would reduce transit funding by $70 million. The original three-year, $150 million pledge made by former Governor Ted Strickland (D), in part, included $1.3 million to establish express bus service that would connect Westwood (Glenway Crossing) and Butler County (Liberty Township/West Chester) with Uptown and the University of Cincinnati.

“It’s too early to know the long-term impact on our funding,” said Metro’s Chief Public Affairs Officer, Sallie L. Hilvers. “The immediate loss is the Innovative Services grant for express service to Uptown which was in the planning stage.”

The idea was to invest $10 million into transit systems around the state in a way that would connect people with important job centers and education hubs like Uptown.

In Columbus, $3.2 million would have gone to connect Ohio State University, Columbus State, Franklin University and the Capital Law School with regional hospitals. Nearby, Dayton had received $534,000 to pursue similar transit goals.

This move, combined with the return of $400 million for high speed rail and consideration of pulling $50 million in state funding for the Cincinnati Streetcar, appears to point to a dramatic policy shift from Strickland to Kasich, and one that does not favor the state’s transport network.

When asked about this striking policy shift and what it might mean for Metro, Hilvers said, “We really can’t comment until we have more facts. There just isn’t enough information yet to really know what the future impacts will be.”

By Randy A. Simes

Randy is an award-winning urban planner who founded UrbanCincy in May 2007. He grew up on Cincinnati’s west side in Covedale, and graduated from the University of Cincinnati’s nationally acclaimed School of Planning in June 2009. In addition to maintaining ownership and serving as the managing editor for UrbanCincy, Randy has worked professionally as a planning consultant throughout the United States, Korea and the Middle East. After brief stints in Atlanta and Chicago, he currently lives in the Daechi neighborhood of Seoul’s Gangnam district.