Transit

Overview

Transit is already an integral part of our region. Buses move more than 21,000 commuters to jobs every day and serve many more thousands in daily trips for goods and services. Furthermore, transit is desirable for reducing congestion, which in turn reduces the need for roadway expansion projects and decreases vehicle emissions. These are critical components in this plan’s strategy for meeting mobility and air quality needs. In addition, transit provides travel opportunities to those for whom auto ownership or use is not a possible or preferred option. A full size bus filled to capacity with riders replaces approximately 44 automobiles that would otherwise be on the roadway in the form of single-occupant vehicles (SOV). It is in the region’s interest to make public transportation widely available as an alternative to SOV travel.

Regional Transit Map

Existing Bus Service

There are seven major public transit systems that currently provide bus service in the OKI region. Each of the eight OKI counties is served by at least one public transit agency. Since 2010, public bus transport in the OKI region has experienced an overall decrease in ridership of over 2.0 million people. This is a nine percent drop in ridership between 2010 and 2014. Bus transit providers are faced with many challenges in their goal to provide safe and efficient transit service. Funding for staff and vehicles is often the critical factor which impacts ridership.

 

Transit Ridership 2010-2014

YEARBCRTACatch-A-Ride*CTCMTSSORTA Metro (fixed route only)TANKWCTSREGIONAL TOTAL
201036802341571052682103971882182835635335077522822760
201153131350151150372195961878476736703015182922929676
201277672352131054462085721755312138447884794921872761
2013321301295501049591538241676900436369374437621059951
201455552923746987751687531642614734923834596320811296

Butler County Regional Transit Authority

The mission of the Butler County Regional Transit Authority (BCRTA) is “To support Butler County’s quality of life and economic development through public transportation solutions”.

BCRTA was formed by the Butler County Commissioners in 1994 and remains the designated grantee for federal and state transportation funds within the Cincinnati Urbanized Area of Butler County. The agency is governed by a nine-member Board of Trustees appointed by the Butler County Commissioners. BCRTA was formed to:

  • Provide access to health and human service programs;
  • Foster the economic development and vitality of the county by providing better access to jobs, education, shopping and government services;
  • Conserve energy and reduce pollution; and
  • Serve as a broker of transportation services for various county boards and agencies that wish to contract with BCRTA to manage their transportation needs

Since 2005, BCRTA has operated countywide, general public transit services in Butler County, Ohio. Without local funding support, service options and growth have relied on service contracts and critical partnerships with the City of Middletown, Miami University and others. These contracts and partnerships have allowed BCRTA to greatly increase trips from 2,720 in 2005 to 555,259 one-way trips in 2014. In addition, BCRTA contracts with SORTA to provide service to and from Butler County Park & Rides and downtown Cincinnati. In 2014, BCRTA and SORTA generated 119,704 one-way trips provided under this Park & Ride mutual agreement.

In addition to Park & Rides, BCRTA provides transit services that include fixed-route, complementary ADA services in the City of Oxford, Ohio; weekday commuter services connecting the urban centers of Middletown, Oxford, and Hamilton; weekday fixed route connections to the Hamilton County’s Metro bus services; on-demand, curb-to-curb services; and shopping and group shuttle services. BCRTA fixed route and commuter services are offered at a $2.00 one-way trip. The fare for BCRTA on-demand, curb-to-curb services ranges from $5.00 to $30.00 for a one-way trip depending on zones of travel. From 2008 to 2015, BCRTA operated a reduced fare Medical Shuttle funded through a New Freedom grant. From 2010 to 2015, BCRTA operated a five dollar Job Shuttle funded through a Job Access Reverse Commute (JARC) grant. Although both shuttles proved very successful and operated at capacity, MAP-21 unfortunately discontinued support for these funded programs.

BCRTA maintains an administrative and maintenance facility in Fairfield Township and a satellite office and bus storage area in the City of Oxford. BCRTA operates with a $4.3 million budget, employs approximately 100 full and part-time persons and maintains a fleet of 47 vehicles.

The demand for affordable, convenient and reliable mobility options in Butler County continues to grow. BCRTA works with the Transit Alliance of Butler County (a local nonprofit charged with finding approaches to meet mobility needs through coordination of local resources), to seek additional partnerships and collaborative efforts to increase regional access for Butler County residents and visitors to jobs, job training, medical services, and other quality of life opportunities. BCRTA is the only transit agency in the OKI region that has experienced an increase in ridership over the past five years and this increase is no small amount. Between 2010 and 2014, BCRTA has had a 141 percent increase in ridership.

Catch-A-Ride

The Catch-A-Ride transit system began operations in Dearborn County in June 1997 under the name Southeast Indiana Transit (SEIT) and is a public passenger transportation system provided by the Southeastern Indiana Regional Planning Commission. The system is operated by LifeTime Resources, Inc., a not-for-profit agency. Catch-A-Ride operates in Dearborn, Decatur, Jefferson, Ohio, Ripley and Switzerland counties in southeast Indiana and is available to individuals of all ages and incomes with scheduled pickup and arrival times and is a shared ride service.

Catch-A-Ride operates two types of services: Demand Response Service and Point Deviation Service (Madison only). These services are specifically designed to serve small towns and rural counties in the service area. Examining data for their Dearborn County service area only, Catch-A-Ride has experienced a 30 percent decrease in ridership between 2010 and 2014.

The majority of Catch-A-Ride routes operate a demand response service, based on individual requests, which are taken on a first-come, first-served basis. There are no specified pick up times or locations and no structured routes, although some routes do have service area boundaries. This is an origin-to-destination service where drivers will offer a helping hand as needed to ensure that individuals reach their destination safety

Point Deviation service is only available in the City of Madison. Point Deviation vehicles operate in an established directional route pattern, with limited check point stops. This type of system allows for a high level of spontaneity in individual transportation plans. Riders may call ahead to schedule a trip within the corporate limits of the established route or they can board the vehicle at any of the check point locations without a reservation and be transported to any destination along the route. The point deviation service operates from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Buses leave the Comfort Station on Main Street and the Walmart/Kroger plaza at the top of the hour and on the half hour. Drivers may make pick-ups and drop-offs in between stops.

Clermont Transportation Connection

Clermont Transportation Connection (CTC) is the primary provider of public transportation in Clermont County. The agency was founded in 1977 as Clermont Area Rural Transit (CART) and has continued to evolve. CTC now offers three fixed routes in addition to its Dial-A-Ride services and Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NET) services. Route 1 Eastgate-Felicity Shuttle operates Tuesdays and Thursdays and provides service between the town of Felicity, the Amelia area and the Eastgate Mall area. Route 2X provides non-stop express service from the Rivertown Market Park & Ride in New Richmond to downtown Cincinnati. Route 4X provides non-stop service between Amelia and downtown Cincinnati. CTC provides four free Park & Ride lots in their service area including three along Route 4X (Amelia Express) and one for Route 2X (New Richmond Express).

The transit agency was operated by an independent board until October 1997 and then became a direct department of the Clermont County Commissioners. Until 2000, Clermont County was classified as a rural county and as such, the state provided operating funds to CTC. With the 2000 Census, Clermont County was re-categorized as an urban county which ended the State’s provision of operating funds. Funding has been a challenge for CTC since that time. Ridership has also been a challenge. However in comparison to other transit agencies, CTC’s decrease is amongst the lowest at six percent.

The Clermont County Transportation Connection operates 30 vehicles and provides intra-county Dial-A-Ride service and Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NET) in addition to three fixed routes. Dial-A-Ride service is available from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Non-Emergency Medical Transportation service is available from 4:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Fixed route service is available from 5:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Standard Dial-A-Ride fares are $4.75 for adults, $3.75 for students and $2.35 for children, senior citizens and persons with disabilities. Fixed route fares are $3.75 for adults, $2.75 for students and $1.85 for children, senior citizens and persons with disabilities. CTC sells Ride Cards good for 10 rides on fixed routes at the rate of $33.00 for adults, $25.00 for students, $16.50 for children, senior citizens and persons with disabilities. NET service is free of charge for Medicaid eligible persons going to and from eligible medical appointments.

Middle Transit System

The Middletown Transit System (MTS) is a publicly-owned and operated system that began service in January 1973 servicing the city of Middletown. MTS currently operates six, 28 passenger buses and two nine passenger paratransit buses; all vehicles are wheelchair accessible. Operating hours are 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays. Regular fares are $1.25 per ride or a 40 ride bus pass for $50.00. Elderly, physically disabled or Medicare card holder discount fares are 60 cents per ride or a 40 ride pass for $24.00. Paratransit curb-to-curb service is also available for qualified residents of Middletown using two lift-equipped vans. The fare for this service is $2.50 each way.

MTS operates six fixed route lines: Blue Line, Green Line North, Green Line South, Gold Line South, Gold Line East and the Red Line. Middletown Transit Systems serves all major shopping centers and points of interest including the Atrium Medical Campus, the Veterans’ Administration facility and Miami University, Middletown Campus.

In spite of these services, MTS has significant challenges like many of the other transit agencies in the OKI region with a 20 percent drop in ridership.

Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority

The largest public transit operator in the OKI region is SORTA. SORTA’s designated service area covers all of Hamilton County. Portions of Butler, Clermont and Warren counties are served on a contractual basis. SORTA’s fixed route service, called Metro consists of 25 local routes and 21 express commuter services.

Historically, Metro has operated a primarily radial network consisting of local and express routes focused on downtown Cincinnati. Local transit service mainly runs on local streets and makes frequent stops. Express routes operate on local streets and highways with fewer stops.  To better serve changing travel patterns, Metro also operates three east-west crosstown routes. In 2014, Metro provided 16,424,114 one-way trips on the fixed-route system. This was a 13 percent decrease in ridership since 2010. Funding cuts and subsequent reductions in service and service hours have a direct correlation to the decline in ridership.

Metro provides 23 free Metro also operates reverse commute service to portions of Hamilton, Butler and Warren counties. SORTA operates a reverse commute service between the Cincinnati Central Business District and the Kings Island area in southwest Warren County. The service aims to provide reduced fares to youth seeking employment at the Kings Island amusement park and surrounding businesses. In 2014, 19,730 one-way trips were provided with the service.

Existing METRO Park and Ride Locations

Location NameAddressNumber of Parking SpacesMetro Routes Served
Anderson7954 Beechmont12024, 30X, 75X
Parkside Christian Church6986 Salem5081X
Anderson Center Station7832 Five Mile Road19024, 75X, 81X
Regency MilfordMain and Baker5028, 29X
Union Township Civic Center4350 Aicholtz40082X
MadeiraDawson & Miami122X
Blue AshBlue Ash Road and Cooper Road403, 3X
Kenwood Baptist Church8341 Kenwood753X
Silverton7000 Montgomery602X, 3, 4
Symmes TownshipMason at Seven Gables253X
Sycamore Presbyterian ChurchMason at Seven Gables253X
Meijer in Mason3911 W SR 22-3, Loveland11571X
Kings IslandKings Island Drive at Brandt Connector22571X
Meijer West Chester7390 Tylersville Road15042X
Queen City Racquet Club11275 Chester Road5023X
Meijer in Colerain Township3711 Stone Creek Blvd.4023X
Forest Park1160 Kemper Meadow12014X, 23X
Greenhills Shopping Center44 Eswin at Winton2514X, 20
Hilltop Plaza8062-8084 Hamilton3015X, 16, 17
Sam’s Club5375 North Bend16074X
Kroger in Harrison10553 Harrison Avenue15052X
Delhi Plaza4940-4990 Delhi Pike3632, 77X
Glenway Crossing Transit Center and Park & Ride5080 Glencrossing Way7038X, 39, 64, 77X

Currently, all of Metro’s 356-bus fleet is accessible to persons with disabilities and feature wheelchair lifts or ramps. All Metro buses are equipped with bicycle racks. In addition to the lift-equipped service along its regular routes, SORTA instituted the Access program in 1977, which is a shared-ride transportation service using paratransit vehicles. The service is managed by SORTA and operated by a private contractor. In December 2010, Access modified its service area and currently provides service that is complimentary to fixed-route service as required by the ADA. The service now has a fleet of 46 vehicles that provided 198,202 one-way trips in 2014. The fare for Access service is $3.50 for Zone 1 and $4.50 for Zone 2.

Metro’s primary transit center is Government Square in downtown Cincinnati, which was renovated in 2005 and is now completely accessible to persons with disabilities. In 2013, Metro completed the construction of the Uptown Transit District, a multi-site transit district connecting the routes serving Uptowns. In addition, Metro has a suburban transit center, Glenway Crossing, located in the west side of the City of Cincinnati. The Anderson Park & Ride is a major facility on the east side with 200 commuter parking spaces.

For more than three years, OKI, along with local business, government and transportation leaders have been meeting to seek solutions to regional transit challenges. One of the options explored is Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), a faster, limited-stop transit service. BRT is a term applied to a variety of public transportation systems using buses to provide faster, more efficient service than an ordinary bus line. Often this is achieved by making improvements to existing infrastructure, vehicles and scheduling. The goal of these systems is to approach the service quality of rail transit while still enjoying the cost savings and flexibility of bus transit. In 2014, METRO launched their new Metro*Plus service along the Montgomery Road corridor, connecting both Uptown and Downtown with the Kenwood area. The service features limited stops, frequent service (every 15-minutes on weekdays), new specially-branded sleek and contemporary BRT-style buses along with new bus stop signs and shelters.

Transit districts or hubs provide a safe, welcoming place that may offer a wide range of amenities. Depending on the scale of each hub project, amenities could include covered or enclosed waiting areas, restroom facilities and ticketing information. Major bus hubs have the potential to incorporate retail stores, restaurants or other establishments that cater to transit riders. Incorporation of such amenities has the potential of enhancing surrounding commercial and residential areas and providing an economic development stimulus. The estimated cost of each of the recommended hubs ranges from half a million to five million dollars depending upon the amenities included at each site. Transit hubs would also be equipped with facilities for parking bicycles to encourage bicycle use and ease automobile parking requirements. These parking facilities should include bike lockers and covered bike racks suitable for securing the frame of the bike. Streets accessing the transit hubs should be improved to include bicycle treatments that may include bike lanes or wide shoulders for increased road sharing safety and to encourage the use of bicycle access to transit. On July 24, 2014, SORTA opened the newest transit district in the region. The facility is located in the Uptown area where approximately 50,000 jobs are located with an economic impact of more than three billion dollars. The area includes the University of Cincinnati, UC Medical Center and several major hospitals, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Research Center and other employers. Metro’s newest Uptown Transit District serves thousands of people riding Metro to and from jobs, education, medical services and entertainment and includes four hub locations:

  • University of Cincinnati on Jefferson Avenue
  • Medical center area (University Hospital, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center)
  • Clifton Heights business district (near Hughes High School)
  • Vine Street between McMillan and Calhoun Streets

The four Uptown Transit District hubs include new shelters that offer many customer amenities, including:

  • Distinctive, sheltered boarding areas
  • Real-time information
  • Wayfinding and rider information kiosks
  • Enhanced streetscaping and sidewalk improvements in some areas
  • Ticket vending machines at two locations

Another transit center in Northside is already funded. Construction is planned for 2018 using OKI Congestion Mitigation & Air Quality (CMAQ) funds. The center will connect six routes that operate in the area. Ridership on these routes is anticipated to increase by two to three percent as a result of the new hub.

SORTA and TANK continue to engage in an inter-local agreement to allow close coordination of the two transit systems. SORTA continues to work cooperatively with other area transit systems to form a comprehensive transit network. The network encompasses four Ohio counties, three Northern Kentucky counties and Southeast Indiana. As part of the coordinated effort SORTA and TANK offer shared fare media including a 30-day rolling pass, stored value card and transfers.

Several unique funding programs have been developed by SORTA and TANK to provide free transportation to qualified riders. SORTA introduced the UC*Metro program in 2007. Beginning in the fall of 2011, the program introduced the EZ Ride Card. The card is free and available to students, faculty and staff and can be used for unlimited rides anywhere Metro travels for only $1 with no additional zone charges. The traditional UC*Metro card is also available and is currently $40 per quarter for students and $120 per quarter for faculty and staff, which allows for unlimited rides during the quarter. The program is funded by the University of Cincinnati and its student government. A similar program is available to Cincinnati State and Antonelli College students and allows students to ride Metro for $1. These programs are subsidized by the schools.

Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky

The Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky (TANK) provides public transit service in Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties as well as downtown Cincinnati. In fiscal year 2014 TANK carried over 3.7 million passengers and operated over 4.6 million miles. This was only a two percent drop in ridership since 2010, the lowest decrease for any transit agency serving the OKI region.

TANK receives funding from the three Northern Kentucky counties. Demand for transit services has grown with the growth in employment options, particularly south of I-275. TANK has incorporated processes to pilot new service to meet growing demands, while testing the service for long-term viability prior to incorporation into the service on a permanent basis.

TANK’s fixed route bus operation consists of 105 coaches, all lift and bicycle rack equipped, operating 28 routes of local and express service. TANK operates seven days a week with 89 vehicles in service during morning and afternoon rush hours alone. Fares for local service are currently $1.50 for adults, $1.00 for students and 75 cents for senior citizens and the physically disabled. The Southbank Shuttle Trolley, TANK’s riverfront circulator route in downtown Cincinnati, Covington and Newport, also has a fare of $1.00. TANK’s express routes operate on the interstate highway system and have a fare of $2.00.

 

TANK has a total of 18 Park & Ride locations located throughout Northern Kentucky. In November 2013, TANK opened the Florence Transit Hub on Heights Boulevard. The new hub serves two purposes, a Park & Ride for 170 cars and a transfer point between multiple routes. The hub allows people to travel between routes without having to go into Covington and downtown Cincinnati to make a transfer. This hub is saving time for TANK customers who are used to having a much longer bus ride to make the same trip. In addition, TANK added a new express route from the Florence Transit Hub to downtown Cincinnati that operates during peak travel hours. The route also includes midday to service other Northern Kentucky Park & Ride locations. The Florence Hub was a development project that came out of the 2007 Transit Network Study. The Florence Hub is the second transit hubs that TANK is constructing in suburban Northern Kentucky as part of a recommendation from the 2007 Study and 2014 update. The first suburban hub constructed is located in Fort Wright near TANK’s main garage on Madison Pike. These locations join the Covington Transit Center as focal points for TANK service in the community

Existing TANK Park and Ride Locations

Location NameBus Routes ServedAddressCityCounty
Alexandria25, 25X9000 Alexandria PikeAlexandriaCampbell
Burlington32XBurlington Pike (Kroger)BurlingtonBoone
Buttermilk17X, 42X2304 Buttermilk CrossingCrescent SpringsKenton
Cherokee Shopping Center96459 Taylor Mill RoadIndependenceKenton
Cold Spring25, 25X4011 Alexandria PikeCold SpringCampbell
Covington Transit Centerall routes with the exception of some express routes220 Madison AvenueCovingtonKenton
Florence Hub1, 1X, 35X, 42X831 Heights BlvdFlorenceBoone
Ft. Wright Hub5, 25, 38X, 33, 30X, 35X3375 Madison PikeFort WrightKenton
Hands Pike30XMadison PikeErlangerKenton
Hebron Lutheran Church39X3140 Limaburg RoadHebronBoone
Houston Road1X, 42X4400 Houston RoadFlorenceBoone
Independence30XMadison Pike (Kroger)IndependenceKenton
Mt. Zion Road22X377 Mt. Zion RoadFlorenceBoone
Newport Shopping Center16, 251727 Monmouth StreetNewportCampbell
North Bend40XNorth Bend RoadHebronBoone
Turfway Race Track1X, 42X4874 Houston RoadFlorenceBoone
Village Green Shopping Center25, 25X7000 Alexandria PikeAlexandriaCampbell
Walton First Baptist Church22X47 South Main StreetWaltonBoone

TANK also operates RAMP—a door-to-door demand response transportation service for people who cannot use the regular fixed route service. The fare for RAMP service is $2.50 per trip and reservations for the service must be made in advance.

TANK and Northern Kentucky University (NKU) have partnered to establish the U-Pass Program which began July 1, 2007. U-Pass provides free transportation on all TANK routes for NKU students, faculty and staff and was expanded to also serve students at Gateway Community and Technical College. Unlimited rides are available on all TANK buses including the Southbank Shuttle. The programs are funded by NKU and Gateway Community and Technical College.

In 2014, the TANK Board adopted the final recommendations of the most recent update to the Transit Network Study. Through a consultant-led process that engaged stakeholders from more than twenty local and regional organizations, TANK created a plan which consists of two major components; short term service changes and long term transit vision for Northern Kentucky. Intended to provide more transit connectivity and increase overall ridership, the components are designed to afford simpler and more direct transit service to northern Kentucky. The plan includes:

Creation of a multi-hub system featuring:

  • East-west transit connectivity along I-275 and in the riverfront communities
  • Improved service to major employment centers such as NKU, Florence industrial area, the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) and Hebron
  • New park and ride facilities in Taylor Mill and Edgewood
  • A new super-stop on NKU’s campus and at CVG
  • Renovation of the Transit Center in downtown Covington and improve Newport Shopping Center Park & Ride
  • Support fastest growth areas in Northern Kentucky and address suburb-to-suburb travel patterns

Frequency and span enhancements throughout the system

Enhanced bus corridors, with faster and more frequent service, higher levels of amenities in higher density corridors

Growing the transit market through smart technologies and techniques:

  • Expand regional service to leverage the Florence, NKU and CVG hubs
  • Provide “last mile” on-demand service within suburban neighborhoods and industrial area
  • HOV lanes and/or bus-on-shoulder facilities along I-471 and I-75

On the coat-tails of completing the update to the Transit Network Study, in August 2014 TANK began a service that links Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties with better transit. It is the first step in TANK’s efforts to improve access and connections over the next several years within Northern Kentucky. The 35X East-West Express route allows connections between routes with convenient transfers at the Florence and Ft. Wright hubs. The route does not travel to downtown Cincinnati, but provides direct travel between key destinations within Northern Kentucky including/ Florence Mall, TANK Florence Hub, Crestview Hills Town Center, TANK Fort Wright hub and Northern Kentucky University. This service includes unique branding and signage.

Warren County Transit System

The Warren County Transit System (WCTS) was established by Warren County in August 1980. Currently WCTS operates 19 light transit lift-equipped vehicles. WCTS provides demand response public transportation service to all of Warren County and to the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority’s (GDRTA) South Hub. WCTS also provides service to three points within the City of Middletown in Butler County.

The fare for WCTS is $3.00 for a one-way trip. Discounted rates are available to elderly and physically disabled passengers at $1.50. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 6:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., excluding certain holidays.

As with the other transit agencies serving the OKI region, WCTS has also experienced a decrease in ridership, 10 percent, between 2010 and 2014.

Existing Streetcar

The Cincinnati Streetcar is a rail transit line designed to link major employment and entertainment centers in Downtown and Over-the-Rhine. The Streetcar is to begin service in late 2016. The route is 3.6 miles long with 18 stops and travels from Second Street to Henry Street (just north of Findlay Market in Over the Rhine). A maintenance and operations facility is located at the corner of Henry and Race Streets at the northern tip of the route and serves as the base of operations for the system. As indicated in other cities, fixed rail transit systems such as the Cincinnati Streetcar spur economic development along their routes. View destinations on the streetcar route.

Future Needs

The results of a 2014 opinion survey conducted for SORTA Metro by Fallon Research and Communications highlighted:

%

Agreed that providing transit service for workers, older adults, students, people with disabilities and those who don’t drive is important to the regional economy and quality of life

%

Said that transit is a community benefit, whether or not they use it

%

Think that expanded and improved transit service is needed (35.6% think transit should be expanded “a lot” and 38.2% think “somewhat”)

The highest priorities identified from the survey included:

  • More east-west crosstown routes to avoid downtown transfers
  • More suburban Park & Ride and express services
  • More early morning and late evening service
  • More amenities like real-time information, improved shelters, etc.

Efficient and Timely Service

Bus service in the region began when the city of Cincinnati was the primary destination. As the region has grown in a more dispersed development pattern, the expansion of transit service has not been able to keep pace. Gains and losses in bus transit ridership directly correlate to the expansion and reduction of services. Presently, it is impossible to travel between many parts of the region by transit. To attract more riders to transit:

  • The separate transportation services in the region need to become fully connected, both in service routes and fare structure to accommodate transfers between providers
  • Service must become more efficient and timely to compete with SOV travel

Fuel Efficient, Environmentally-Friendly Vehicles

Bus replacement programs and the ability to switch to hybrid or alternatively fueled vehicles are important to all the transit systems in the region. Funding to replace vehicles is very competitive and often providers are forced to use vehicles that are beyond age or mileage standards established by the Federal Transit Administration. In past funding cycles, OKI has provided federal funding for bus replacement projects sponsored by BCRTA, CTC, SORTA and TANK. SORTA and TANK both have need for additional or replacement vehicles in order to provide expanded service. The use of alternative fuel and hybrid vehicles will allow for more environmentally friendly operations and reductions in fuel costs. Fuel savings may allow for fleet expansion and the purchase of new vehicles.

Public Rail Transit, Streetcar and Bus Rapid Transit Vision Plan

In 2002, a Regional Rail Plan was developed by SORTA with participation by OKI and its members. This initial Rail Plan contained several recommendations for public rail passenger service in the OKI region. Since 2002, several additional studies related to passenger rail service and similar types of public, non-SOV transport have been conducted.

The OKI 2040 Plan supports the recommendations developed in the 2002 Regional Rail Plan with refinements that have been made over the past 14 years, however, due to the requirement that this plan be fiscally constrained, OKI cannot recommend the full Regional Rail Plan at this time. Being in the financially constrained portion of the plan means that there is evidence of sufficient funds to cover the cost of the included projects by the year 2040. To view the transit projects that are included in the 2040 Plan by interactive map or table list formats, click here and search by “Project Type.”

The remaining rail transit and related public transport recommendations serve as a vision plan for potential future projects and are not included as part of the fiscally constrained portion of this plan. A summary of such potential future rail transit, streetcar and bus rapid transit (BRT) projects are summarized below.

Future Rail Transit

This Plan does recommend Eastern Corridor Oasis Line Segments 1, 2, 3 & 4 (Project #4381) from downtown Cincinnati to Milford at a project cost of $372.16 million which includes rail transit plus feeder bus. However, no other fixed guideway rail transit facilities are recommended at this time due to the lack of funding. Therefore, other rail transit lines are included in this plan as part of a Public Rail Transit, Streetcar and Bus Rapid Transit Vision Plan and listed below.

Southwest Connection Railroad Project

The rendering was provided by City of Cincinnati staff. The map and annotations denote the Southwest Connection Railroad project improvements which would be needed to connect passenger trains from the west to the Cincinnati Union Terminal in order to facilitate future rail passenger service from downtown Cincinnati west towards Lawrenceburg, Indiana.

Mill Creek Additional Track

In order to plan and accommodate future passenger rail access to Cincinnati Union Terminal, rail capacity would need to be increased in the Mill Creek Area by adding approximately 8,600 feet of fourth track in this corridor from the RH Tower to the NA Junction. This area is currently a choke point that adds to the delays of NS and CSX through freight movements and makes the coordination of train movements to and from the Gest Street Yard extremely challenging. The additional length of track would provide capacity for a 156-car train, which will allow better dispatching into the Gest Street Yard by spreading out train arrivals, instead of idling numerous trains while other traffic clears. This recommendation is a cost-effective solution to accommodate the potential additional use of freight rail by passenger service.

In order to maintain the ability to implement such rail transit in the future, it is recommended that right of ways and infrastructure be preserved for these potential rail transit corridors. The text that follows provides a brief summary of each of the corridors included within Public Rail Transit, Streetcar and Bus Rapid Transit Vision Plan for which right of way preservation is recommended.

Eastern Corridor Oasis Diesel Light Rail

The Vision Plan includes the future possibility of running the Eastern Corridor Oasis Diesel Light Rail line from Milford to the Eastgate Area.

I-71 Light Rail Transit/BRT

The I-71 alignment extends between southwestern Warren County and the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in Boone County. The I-71 alignment would provide the foundation for creating a more multimodal regional transportation system. This line would provide a corridor for connecting light rail segments, commuter rail lines, bus rapid transit routes and other bus routes. Due to lack of local funding, the project is not on the recommended list of projects for Federal Transit Administration New Starts.

Wasson Way/Bond Hill Electric Light Rail

The Wasson alignment provides a connection between the I-71 and eastern alignment. This plan is consistent with the recommendations from the Eastern Corridor Study to preserve the right of way along the existing rail line between Xavier University and the city of Fairfax. This route would include connection to the I-71 transit alignment.

Fairfax to Sharonville Diesel Heavy Rail

Fairfax to Sharonville Diesel Heavy Rail project would make use of the SORTA owned Oasis line and a Norfolk Southern line to connect the rail transit hub in Fairfax to Sharonville, Ohio. It would use FRA compliant passenger rail vehicles.

Southeastern Public Transit Vision

The Southeastern alignment connects downtown Cincinnati with Northern Kentucky University following the I-471 corridor.

I-75 Public Transit Vision

The I-75 alignment runs parallel to I-75 for much of its length. This potential exclusive guideway extends from Cincinnati north to I-275 and the West Chester/Union Centre Boulevard area.

CVG  Light Rail

This Plan does recommend the I-71/75 Bus on left shoulder project (Project #4480) from the Brent Spence Bridge to Boone County Line at a project cost of $60,000. However, the Vision Plan includes consideration either for the long term Light Rail Transit Service between downtown Cincinnati and CVG or Bus Rapid Transit.

Western Public Transit Vision

The Western alignment proposes a public transit link from downtown Cincinnati to Green Township in western Hamilton County. Due to private development and the lack of remaining freight rail right of way, the alignment for transit is proposed to follow the I-74 corridor.

Lawrenceburg Public Transit Vision

The Lawrenceburg alignment proposes the use of an existing freight rail right of way along the US 50 corridor to connect downtown Cincinnati with Lawrenceburg, Indiana.

AMTRAK Intercity Passenger Rail

Rail service to Cincinnati and Hamilton, Ohio is currently provided three days per week by Amtrak’s Cardinal route, operating between Chicago and Washington, D.C. Like many of its routes, Amtrak uses single level passenger equipment pulled by diesel locomotives for the Cardinal route. The Cincinnati station, located in the Union Terminal Museum Center, provides full service to passengers, including a ticket office and special considerations for the physically disabled. CSX Transportation trackage is used for most of the Cardinal’s route between Chicago and Washington, D.C.

Future Streetcar Extensions

This Plan does recommend extension of the Cincinnati Streetcar to northern Kentucky via a new, Phase 1 Newport Streetcar project (Project #4977) at a project cost of $103.91 million. However, no other fixed guideway public transportation facilities are recommended at this time as part of the fiscally constrained Plan due to the lack of funding. Therefore, other streetcar future extensions are included in this plan as part of a Public Rail Transit, Streetcar and Bus Rapid Transit Vision Plan and listed below.

Cincinnati Streetcar Segments

Cincinnati Streetcar is intended to serve as a circulator to link future rail and bus routes.

  • Phase 1B: Uptown Connector (Over-The-Rhine to University of Cincinnati/Vine to Corry streets). As of the time of this Plan Update, the City of Cincinnati had received an active FONSI for this Phase 1B. However, the City was not actively working on this next Streetcar phase.
  • Phase 2: Uptown Circulator (Multiple alignments being considered. All alignments extend roughly from Corry Street to Erkenbrecher Avenue).
  • Phase 3: East – West Connector (Cincinnati Museum Center to Broadway/Jack Cincinnati Casino)

Northern Kentucky Streetcar Segment

Phase 2 NKY Streetcar extension to Covington

Future Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Corridors

This Plan does recommend two new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor extensions in Northern Kentucky:

  • The US 25 (Dixie Highway/Pike Street) BRT (Project #4476) to create a high-frequency, enhanced bus transit corridor with specialized branding from the Boone County Line to Madison Avenue in downtown Covington at a project cost of $5 million.
  • The Madison Avenue/KY 17 BRT corridor (Project #4473) to create a high-frequency bus transit corridor, paint sharrows or shared lane markings between the Covington Transit Center and TANK Fort Wright Transit Hub at a project cost of $2.97 million.

No other BRT corridors are recommended as part of the fiscally constrained Plan at this time due to the lack of funding. Therefore, other BRT extensions are included in this plan as part of a Public Rail Transit, Streetcar and Bus Rapid Transit Vision Plan and listed below.

  • Glenway Avenue BRT
  • Hamilton Avenue BRT
  • I-74 Fixed Guideway BRT or Light Rail Transit
  • Madison Road BRT
  • Reading Road BRT
  • Vine Street BRT

Bus on Shoulder Service

This Plan does recommend the I-71/75 Bus on left shoulder project (Project #4480) from the Brent Spence Bridge to Boone County Line at a project cost of $60,000. No other Bus on Shoulder service corridors are recommended at this time due to the lack of funding. Therefore, the I-471 Bus on Shoulder project is included in this plan as part of a Public Rail Transit, Streetcar and Bus Rapid Transit Vision Plan and listed below.

Summary

The public transit improvements discussed in this chapter will have a dramatic impact on creating transit connections and fulfilling unmet needs. Just as with all transportation modes, funding will continue to be a challenge when implementing public transit improvements. To develop its potential, transit service requires the support of new investments. In addition, it is recommended that incentives and policies be created to encourage people to travel by public transportation and foster transit friendly land use. The effectiveness of transit services is closely related to existing and future land use patterns. This plan continues to work to bring together the issues of land use and transportation planning for the OKI region.