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State of Metro: running well

Michael Keating

When it comes to making use of available resources to deliver public transportation, the Cincinnati bus system is tops compared to 11 peer cities.  That's according to a study being released at today's State of Metro annual meeting.  The research by the UC Economics Center shows Metro is number 1 in operational efficiency--getting the most bang for its buck.

But Metro ranks more middle of the pack when it comes to the level of service provided.  (Number 7 to be exact.)

"In the middle because other systems are actually providing other service options," said Metro CEO Terry Garcia Crews.  "For example, Bus Rapid Transit as well as light rail and commuter rail options."

(Metro actually comes in number 1 for service level compared to its bus-only peers--Columbus, Ohio;  Indianapolis, Ind.;  Louisville, Ky.; and Raleigh, N.C.)

Balanced again

Metro is also announcing at today's meeting it will balance its 2014 budget with no fare increase and no cuts in service--the fourth year the public transit agency has done so.  Garcia Crews attributes this to running Metro with a private-sector mindset.

"This is really taking our transit system, looking at ways to improve efficiency, looking at routes that can be more productive and going to new destinations, and doing that under the same budget capacity," she said.

Quite an accomplishment considering the UC study ranked Metro 1oth for the amount of state and local funding it receives.

What's ahead?

Bus Rapid Transit is frequent service with limited stops in major travel corridors. It's part  part of Metro's vision for the future, which also includes:

  • More express services from new park and rides
  • New crosstown and connector routes
  • Neighborhood circulators
  • On-call small bus service to suburban job centers

Early next year, Metro will open its new Uptown Transit District to provide transfer locations for many of its routes and Uptown shuttles.
It'll feature four key transit areas:

  • University on Jefferson
  • The medical center area, including stops near Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and UC Health/University Hospital
  • The Clifton Heights business district near Hughes Corner
  • Vine between McMillan and Calhoun           

Metro says the new transit district will feature attractive shelters and boarding areas, real-time bus information and streetscaping.