REPORT SHOWS SERVICE OPTIONS TO REINVENT METRO
Today, the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority board received a report from consultant AECOM, illustrating options if additional funding were available for service in Hamilton County. Three options were presented for a 10-year period, assuming Hamilton County sales tax funding of ½-cent, ¾-cent and 1-cent.CINCINNATI – Today, the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority board received a report from consultant AECOM, illustrating options if additional funding were available for service in Hamilton County. No decisions related to the report were made at the meeting. Three options were presented for a 10-year period, assuming Hamilton County sales tax funding of ½-cent, ¾-cent and 1-cent. It was assumed that there would be no funding from the City of Cincinnati earnings tax. The ½-cent option did not provide adequate revenue to address the budget deficit and would not improve service to the community. Service reductions or fare increases would still be necessary over the next 10 years. The ¾-cent option would address the budget deficit and would provide funding to make limited improvements: 22% increase in service hours32 of 45 routes would have service every 20 minutes or better3 new limited-stop, high-frequency Metro*Plus routesNo new crosstown routes or circulatorsNo new park & rides4 new transit centersRidership growth estimated at 4% per year (30% over 10 years) The 1-cent option would address the budget deficit and fund the full Reinventing Metro plan in Hamilton County, including: 55% increase in service hours48 of 55 routes would have service every 20 minutes or better30 routes would have earlier and later service for better job access3 new limited-stop, high-frequency Metro*Plus routes3 new crosstown routes for better connections3 new circulator routes4 new transit centers1 new park & rideRidership growth estimated at 6% per year (61% over 10 years) “SORTA is at a crossroads, and we’re nearing the time when we need to decide which path to take,” said Jason Dunn, SORTA Board Chair. “Either way, we are reinventing Metro – for the better with more service and amenities, or for worse with decreased access to jobs, school and healthcare. But the most important step right now is to get feedback from the community and our leaders about these potential improvements and the direction they want SORTA to take.” View and download the AECOM report here.Metro: At a CrossroadsThe Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority projects a budget deficit every year after 2017. This is largely a result of decreasing ridership as jobs move to areas of the county not adequately served – if at all – by public transit. Metro service is mostly limited to the city, as its primary public funding comes from a portion of the City of Cincinnati earnings tax. Without a change to its public funding structure, SORTA soon will be forced to seek fare increases, reduce services or both, even further limiting access to jobs, school and services. In 2016, the Metro Futures Task Force, composed of 20 business and community leaders, found that SORTA’s current business model is unsustainable and recommended that SORTA’s local funding should be a permanent sales tax, not the City earnings tax. With a change to a county-wide public funding structure, SORTA could address the budget deficit and better serve Hamilton County with more services, better connections and improved access to jobs, school, shopping and medical appointments. After consideration of the task force report, the SORTA Board directed staff to take all appropriate steps to explore placing a ballot initiative before Hamilton County voters in 2017. The AECOM report was part of this exploration. SORTA Board members have been addressing Cincinnati community councils. Additional meetings are in process with county leaders, job development organizations, and business and civic organizations to update them on the system’s current status, challenges, and proposed changes. To request a presentation, email ReinventingMetro@go-metro.com. Metro currently provides about 16 million rides per year, half of which are related to employment.
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