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Metro Responds To Cincinnati Public Schools' Dismay Over Elimination Of Routes For Students

During a virtual public meeting Thursday, Metro outlined what led to the elimination of XTRA Routes just days before the start of school for many Cincinnati Public Schools students.

On Wednesday, CPS' Board of Education voted unanimously to approve a resolution opposing the elimination of Metro XTRA Service Routes for Cincinnati students. Earlier this week, Board Member Eve Bolton said CPS' director of pupil transportation didn't renew the district's contract with Metro for XTRA routes. Board members were not aware of this decision, the Enquirer reports.

Metro Vice President of Strategic Planning and Development Khaled Shammout said SORTA followed the typical discussions with CPS' transportation department.

"This year, just like any other year, we followed the same process," Shammout said. "We've been meeting with their transportation staff, figuring things out and planning things out. I can't speak on behalf of CPS staff whether they informed their superiors or not."

SORTA Director of Transit Development Steve Anderson said they had worked closely with CPS over the past few weeks, including discussions about bus routes, schedules, and service improvements. He says the changes will improve the travel experience overall.

"Your child will now on average have 10 minutes less travel time," Anderson said. "The average travel time with the current XTRA service scheme is about 55 minutes. That is dropping down to 45 minutes. In addition pursuant to Ohio state law, there will be no student that is required to take two or more buses."

CPS says the changes would affect roughly 6,000 students. CPS spends approximately $8 million per year with Metro for passes distributed to Cincinnati students.

Metro says roughly one in six 7-8 graders were already riding regular bus service during the 2019-2020 school year.

Metro plans to improve frequency along many bus routes throughout the area, some of which will serve some CPS high schools directly. See the updates to routes and frequency improvements in the gallery below.

Last week, SORTA ended the routes citing the current hiring climate. SORTA said it had engaged with CPS over the past month to evaluate the service, saying eliminating XTRA routes "avoids having to reduce or delay service that was promised to Hamilton County as part of Reinventing Metro."

CPS' concerns with the route eliminations include preventing spread of COVID-19, students having to make bus transfers, and overcrowding. SORTA says the new routes will increase eligibility to students, expand service hours, and offer shorter ride times.

SORTA staff will hold orientations across CPS high schools to address the changes. Here's a list of dates and locations below.

  • Walnut Hills
    • August 9: 7:45-8:30 p.m.
  • Gamble
    • August 9: 6-7 p.m.
    • August 17: 6-7 p.m.
  • Oyler
    • August 11: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
    • August 12: Noon-4 p.m.
  • Hughes
    • August 11: 5-6:30 p.m.
    • August 12: 5-6:30 p.m.
  • Aiken
    • August 13: 9:30-11 a.m.
  • Western Hills
    • August 13: Noon-1 p.m.
    • August 16: 8:30-9:30 a.m.
  • Clark
    • August 17: 8-10 a.m.
    • August 18: 2-6 p.m.
  • Shroder
    • August 17: 6-7:30 p.m.
    • August 18: 6-7:30 p.m.
  • More Schools TBD

Cory Sharber attended Murray State University majoring in journalism and political science and comes to Cincinnati Public Radio from NPR Member station WKMS.