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Metro Celebrates 40 Years of Transit Service in Cincinnati

Mass transit in Cincinnati has been around for 124 years, but the service provided by Metro is still 40 years young and the transit agency celebrated its anniversary this week.

Mass transit in Cincinnati has been around for 124 years, but the service provided by Metro is still 40 years young. The first buses in the Queen City arrived in 1926 and had grown in popularity by the 1960s.

During this time, it was managed by a private company named Cincinnati Street Railway. In 1973, the City of Cincinnati and Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) partnered to establish Metro in order to improve ridership and the quality of the buses. It was then Metro became the city’s first publicly owned and operated transportation system.

Metro 40th Anniversary Vow Renewal
After meeting on Metro’s first day of service 40 years ago, Captain Rex and Anita Settlemoir renewed their wedding vows on Thursday. Photograph by Paige Malott for UrbanCincy.

To celebrate their 40th anniversary, Metro hosted an afternoon of festivities on Fountain Square. Four buses were displayed along Fifth Street, including a vintage Cincinnati Street Railway bus which had been preserved by the Cincinnati Transit Historical Society.

Local vendors Queen City Bike, Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public Library, Cincinnati Parks, and the Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky (TANK) handed out freebies while Binny and Buddy, mascots for Rumpke and Hoxworth Blood Center, entertained the crowd. Metro’s booth even featured a spin-the-wheel game were participants could win an assortment of products from Metro including hand sanitizer, tote bags, or miniature model Metro buses.

“We’re celebrating 40 years of connecting people and places, supporting economic development and improving the quality of life in Greater Cincinnati,” announced Terry Garcia Crews, CEO of Metro.

In addition to celebrating the organization’s anniversary, a local couple celebrated their 40th anniversary as well. Captain Rex and Anita Settlemoir met while riding Metro in during its first year of service. The Settlemoirs took part in a wedding vow renewal and were escorted to Fountain Square by a Metro*Plus bus; the newest vehicle introduced to the fleet.

“You could just hear the love and see it in their eyes,” smiled Jill Dunne, Public Affairs Manager for Metro.

With 40 being the new 20, the city wonders what’s next for Metro.

“Metro has so many exciting things ahead,” explained Dunne. “Next week, we launch our Metro*Plus rapid bus service in the Montgomery corridor, and we are adding new connections on the west side, as well as more east-west routes.”

“And that is just the start!” Dunne laughed. “I can’t even imagine what our service will look like in 2053. I’m hoping for flying buses.”

By Paige Malott

Paige E. Malott is an award-winning multimedia director who joined UrbanCincy in 2013 as the Arts & Culture contributor. An area native, Paige has experienced living in all three genres of neighborhoods. She grew up in rural Ohio, stayed in suburban Fort Thomas, Kentucky while earning her Bachelor’s degree at Northern Kentucky University, and currently resides in Downtown Cincinnati. In addition to being an urban explorer, Paige creates feature-length films about the Queen City’s history. In 2010, she produced a documentary on Cincinnati’s Abandoned Subway which aired on PBS to over 6 million viewers. She is also a photojournalist for and writes for Cincinnati USA, the region’s tourism network.