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Metro, CPS Announce 'Working Group' To Examine Student Bus Routes

metro bus
Becca Costello

While students at Cincinnati Public Schools may not have dedicated Metro buses to take them to the first day of school Aug. 19, there is a chance that could change in the future.

CPS and Metro issued a joint statement Tuesday stating how representatives from the CPS and Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) boards met privately to discuss next steps for students impacted by the elimination of XTRA routes.

"Due to a bus driver shortage, XTRA routes will not be restored prior to the start of school," the statement reads. "However, both organizations are committed to student safety. As a result, a working group will be pulled together to conduct a school-by-school review and consider adjustments that may need to be made before August 19."

SORTA ended the routes earlier this month citing a challenge in hiring bus drivers. It later was revealed CPS' director of pupil transportation didn't renew the district's contract with Metro for the XTRA routes, a decision some CPS board members say they were not aware of.

SORTA Director of Transit Development Steve Anderson previously said the changes will actually improve students' travel experiences.

"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 this change affects roughly 6,000 students. The district spends approximately $8 million per year with Metro for passes distributed to its students.

The changes go into effect Aug. 15. CPS' first day of school is Aug. 19.