SORTA

Michael Keating / WVXU

The membership of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 627, the union representing Cincinnati Metro bus drivers, unanimously supported a “no confidence” vote in General Manager/CEO Dwight Ferrell.

ATU President Troy Miller released the information Friday in a press release.  The union says the vote during the membership meeting was unanimous.

Mark Heyne, WVXU

Metro, the tax-supported public service of the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA), provides about 17 million bus rides each year in Greater Cincinnati. Metro says its working on several initiatives aimed at reinventing public transportation in our area, including building an Oakley transit center and other improvements.

http://cincymap.org/rtv4/

  

What if there was a way to make waiting for the bus a lot easier? Metro*Now, a People’'s Liberty grant project, does this by utilizing off-the-shelf hardware and open source software. Using a tablet display, you just click on any bus stop and see buses arriving at that selected stop in real-time.

Bill Rinehart / WVXU

The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority has reached a tentative contract with its union, which represents about 700 employees. 

Metro spokeswoman Sallie Hilvers won't talk about the terms of the deal until members have a chance to review it.

“The tentative agreement was reached late  (Wednesday), and our union members will have an opportunity to consider that in the next couple of weeks,'' Hilvers says. "And we’ll know at that point whether or not the new contract will be ratified." 

Logos provided

The union representing Metro employees says it intends to take a no confidence vote in General Manager Dwight Ferrell. The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) and Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 627 are at odds over contract negotiations.

Logos provided

The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 627 is encouraging members to attend Tuesday morning's Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) board meeting to speak out about the current contract situation.

Provided / SORTA

Officials are evaluating different options for operating the Cincinnati streetcar system. 

The original proposal called for service to start at 6 a.m. and end at 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and midnight on Friday and Saturday.

Ann Thompson / WVXU

A study from the University of Cincinnati Economics Center finds Metro could do a better job of connecting people with employers. The Metro Community Impact study indicates there are 50,000 jobs located a quarter mile away from a Metro line, and another 25,000 jobs that are a half mile away.

Bill Rinehart / WVXU

Diane Carmony wants a Metro bus to stop on Westwood Northern Boulevard near Ferncroft.  “There’s signs, but the bus doesn’t stop there.  It doesn’t have a route number or anything, it just has a sign,” she says.

Samuel Foulkes rides a Metro bus every day.  “I’ve actually been pretty happy with my Metro service, but it’s kind of a straight shot up Hamilton Avenue, so I know with the more complicated routes, sometimes it can take a long time to get from point A to point B.” He would like to see more buses on the weekends.

Sarah Ramsey / WVXU

Cincinnati's Government Square will be closed for construction from Friday, July 17 - Friday, July 24. The square is Metro's main downtown transit hub. The bus company says more than 15,000 people transition through the hub each work day.

Provided/City of Cincinnati

Months of debate about who will operate the Cincinnati streetcar system was settled in less than 15 minutes Monday.  The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) Board voted to award a turn-key contract to Illinois-based Transdev.  

Provided/City of Cincinnati

A Cincinnati Council majority is supporting a plan to pledge an additional $2 million of general fund money to operating the streetcar.  

Provided/City of Cincinnati

Cincinnati Council could not agree Wednesday on an approach to operate the city's streetcar system.  So now the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority will likely make the selection.  

Provided/City of Cincinnati

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley said Tuesday he has a plan to pay for streetcar operations if City Council approves the "management option" presented by the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) on June 5th.

Provided / SORTA

A Cincinnati council committee could not reach a decision Tuesday on the best way to operate the city's streetcar system.  So the group will meet again next Wednesday.  

There are two proposals with about a $700,000 difference between them.  

Provided/City of Cincinnati

The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) continues to insist federal guidelines prevent it from releasing the details about the proposals it has received to operate the city's streetcar system.

Ann Thompson / WVXU

Metro's new CEO Dwight Ferrell, on the job 100 days, told  attendees at Wednesday's  Cincinnati USA Chamber of Commerce breakfast, "We have an opportunity to do something significant here."

New bus sizes

He would like to vary the size of Metro buses to serve people in the most economical way.  Ferrell compared the current Metro to Southwest Airlines. "Southwest flies 100 percent 737s, different lengths, but their fleet is homogeneous. Currently we are like Southwest. We need to be like Delta and others in terms of fleet make-up."

Provided / SORTA

Cincinnati officials could be looking to plug about a $500,000 hole in the streetcar operating budget.  

The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority, which will run the system, now estimates fare revenues will be about $675,000 a year.  That is less than an earlier estimate of $1 million.  
 

Part of the reduction could be in how fares are charged.  SORTA is planning for $1 for a two-hour pass.  Earlier studies were based on $1 per trip.

Some local community groups and leaders are pushing for the creation of a recreational bike trail that would go from Lunken Airport to Downtown Cincinnati, and connect to the existing regional trail network. But the proposed trail would follow an unused rail track on the Oasis line, alongside a track that still carries train traffic, and the company that moves that freight on that track is opposed to the trail. 

Ohio River Way

You have a chance to weigh in Friday on a plan to turn railroad tracks between Lunken Airport and The Montgomery Inn Boathouse into a bike and walking trail.The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA), one of several key players in the multi-million dollar Oasis Line project, will hold a listening session so the community can give its voice to the plan. SORTA spokeswoman Sallie Hilvers says the organization has already heard from other stakeholders.

Provided / SORTA

Cincinnati officials now say the contingency budget for the city's streetcar project is estimated to be $1.3 million.  That is up from the $80,000 reported about a month ago.  

Officials updated a council committee Tuesday on the project.
 
“We have better information and more concrete information upon which to project those expenses,” said Chris Eilerman, a city official working on the project who explained the changes.  “Based on that we’ve been able to hone in on better numbers and the result is what you see here.”

provided / Metro

Metro introduced its new CEO Friday morning at its annual meeting.

Dwight Ferrell got his start in transportation as a bus operator in Texas. He says he has a lot to learn about this region and the Metro system.

He takes a cautious approach when asked about how Metro will run the streetcar, internally or through a third-party operator.

"I will be working with the board and elected officials and the community to develop the system that they want," he says.

Provided / SORTA

The SORTA board of trustees has signed off on an operating and maintenance agreement for the streetcar.  Cincinnati Council has already approved the agreement, which spells out the responsibilities of the transit authority and the city.

The new streetcar logo was also unveiled Tuesday.

Under terms of the agreement, the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority will make an annual funding request to the city to cover operating costs.  The city will collect the funds from fares, advertising revenue, parking fees, and from property tax abatement offset revenue.

provided / Metro

The former head of Atlanta’s streetcar project is now the chief executive officer of the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority.

The SORTA Board approved Dwight Ferrell as the new CEO Tuesday morning.

Ferrell comes to the Cincinnati area from Fulton County, Georgia, where he served as county manager since October 2013.  Before that, he was the deputy general manager and chief operating officer of MARTA, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority for four years.

Metro CEO resigns

Jul 15, 2014
Cincinnati Metro / Provided

The board that operates Cincinnati's Metro system is looking for a new leader.

The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority says CEO and General Manager Terry Garcia Crews is resigning effective immediately.

In a release, the board says Crews is returning to a career in transit industry consulting. Crews was hired in November 2010.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Metro will begin offering health benefits to domestic partners in January 2015.  The busing agency says it is the first transit system of its size in the state to take this step.

Before becoming Metro's Ridership development manager, Kim Lahman  says she benefited from a similar program offered by her partner's employer.

Update 12/17/13 @ 6:20 PM:  Council members Young, Simpson and Seelbach released a statement on SORTA's offer to take responsibility for streetcar operating cost.  A portion reads:

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Metro is rolling out its new Plus service and Uptown Transit District plan around UC and the hospital campuses.

Four new boarding shelters are being installed. They'll feature LED displays with real-time information.

The district will also serve as a transfer point for nine routes rather than going through the main hub downtown.

President and CEO of the Uptown Consortium Beth Robinson says the newly created Uptown Transit District is important for easing congestion.

Michael Keating / WVXU

Cincinnati City Council ended its dispute with the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority Wednesday by approving Metro's operating budget for the remaining four-months of the city's fiscal year.  

Council had been approving monthly budgets because of a disagreement with the SORTA, which manages the bus system, over how the city's transit tax can be spent.  

The SORTA Board argued it was only for Metro purposes and had filed a lawsuit concerning the issue.   

The city countered it could be used for any transit related expense.  

Michael Keating / WVXU

The ongoing dispute between Cincinnati and the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority about the use of the city’s transit fund is still dragging on. 

Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls spoke during a special Budget and Finance Committee meeting Tuesday.

"Members of the committee may remember that we passed a one-month budget for SORTA a number weeks ago," Qualls said.  "This is another one month budget for the period of February."

The city argues the fund can be used for any transit purpose. 

Pages