The financially-strapped Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority plans to trim back service on its three least-used Metro bus routes as part of a cost-saving plan before they go to voters next year with a sales tax request.
The three lines impacted by the service cuts would be Route 1, which serves Mount Adams, Eden Park and the Museum Center, Route 28 in the East End and Milford, and Route 50, which extends west along the river to Sayler Park.
At a meeting Tuesday morning, the SORTA board laid out the changes to the three route:
- Route 1 (Mt. Adams, Eden Park, Museum Center): Would operate the Walnut Hills/Mt. Adams portion of the route to downtown on weekdays, but weekend service on Route 1 would be discontinued. Re-route Rt. 49 (English Woods) to serve Museum Center. Reduce Route 49 service on John Street, Central Avenue and Findlay Street in the West End.
- Route 28 (East End, Milford): Discontinue local weekend service from Fairfax to Milford, although Route 29X would continue to serve that area during peak times on weekdays. Discontinue weekend service for Route 28. Add new service to Red Bank Road and more service to Madison.
- Route 50 (Sayler Park): Continue weekday peak period service on the route, but discontinue off-peak and weekend service for Riverside and Sedamsville. Extend Route 32 (Delhi) to serve Addyston and Sayler Park.
The SORTA board voted to hold a public hearing on the changes from 4 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 23 at the Duke Energy Convention Center.
SORTA board chairman Jason Dunn said it was not easy making these cuts.
"This was a very tough day for us,'' Dunn said after the 90-minute meeting. "But we had to make very hard decisions so we tried to find a way to meet in the middle."
The cuts in the three routes will produce about $523,000 in savings each year and another 22,000 riders annually.
"Not only are we increasing revenue that helps us offset some of our costs, we're also increasing ridership too,'' Dunn said.
Last month, the SORTA board decided it will ask Hamilton County voters for an increase in the sales tax – an increase that would stipulate that the money would be used only for bus service and not the streetcar.
The system is currently funded by the city of Cincinnati's earning tax. A sales tax increase would replace that, but SORTA board members have yet to decide the amount of the tax increase they will seek.