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Unread 11-09-2010, 04:14 PM
 
Location: Ohio
378 posts, read 472,115 times
Reputation: 240
Default 2 viewpoints of cincinnati metro

I have two viewpoints of the Cincinnati Metro bus system. Yes, they are both by me, and yes, they are opposites.
I started riding the route 6 bus from Bridgetown in 1975 when I started attending Mother of Mercy High School. It was two blocks to the bus stop from my house and two blocks from the bus stop to school. It was not convenient but it was the only bus remotely close. I also took it to downtown umpteem times and the bus always struggled to get up and down Queen City Avenue. The bus also didn't really go past Western Hills Plaza--that also was two blocks away. It was an inconvenient and tiresome and bumpy 45-minute ride, and the bus didn't come very often, even on weekdays.
It wasn't until I moved to Sayler Park in 2000 and started taking the Route 50 bus downtown that I found out a bus ride could be enjoyable. The route is flat and not bumpy and not nearly as long. Unfortunately due to budget cuts it has far fewer runs than it used to, which is unfortunate.
The only bus route that I know of that is what a route should be like, comparable to Chicago or New York, is the Route 33 bus up Glenway Avenue. It runs from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. and comes every 20 minutes on a weekday and goes past a lot of places.
The original Route 6 doesn't exist any more. It comes up Queen City and goes to Western Hills Plaza, completely bypassing Cheviot and Bridgetown. But its replacement, the 21 on Harrison, does not fill in the gaps left over.
So, two useful bus routes and two not-so-useful ones. What are your experiences?
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Unread 11-09-2010, 09:36 PM
 
Location: Cambridge, MA
3,525 posts, read 5,325,257 times
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Metro service is woefully inadequate beyond Clifton and Walnut Hills. I think there should've been enhancements and updates starting around the time the last streetcars ran during the early '50s which never happened. There seems to have been little accounting for outward shifts in population, let alone the exponential growth/sprawl in suburbia.
Aside from one fairly direct and one fairly circuitous route there are no "crosstown" buses whatsoever. College Hill - Pleasant Ridge and Mt Lookout - Northside come to mind immediately as direct connections which could be made instead of forcing somebody going from one place to the other to make at least one transfer and go way out of their way. But as it is now (and has been for a long long time) the Evanston-Lower Price Hill and Clifton-Oakley runs are the only choices. On the east side, beyond Mitchell Ave there are NO west-to-east streets that include the Metro for any significant distance until you get to Wyoming Ave/Benson St between Wyoming and Reading. And that stretch is traversed by two out of five of the variations on the 78 line. With downtown Lockland practically deserted and not much more in Reading except for all those bridal shops, is it any wonder that the buses stay nearly or completely empty of passengers?
There are a few "Sun Run" and express buses that operate during rush hours and get fair ridership, but somebody needs to get with the program on those too. Many of these kinds of routes that do exist were drawn up about 35 years ago, when you could still see farms just beyond Fields-Ertel Rd for instance. Not only should there be more Sun Runs and expresses on the west side, they need to be extended farther in all directions. And who made the decision last year to drop some express runs entirely? To name Wyoming as one example - some people who work downtown were pleased with having the "76X" available. It got them where they were going in comparable time to driving and was relatively cost-effective, plus it offered the opportunity to get some work or snoozing done en route. Now that route's been cut, and it's a safe bet that none of its riders opted for the far slower 78 that follows Vine St in its entirety.
A good bit of what makes bus service unpopular in Cincinnati beyond its mediocrity is how the Metro is viewed by citizens. The prevailing opinion seems to be that only those with no choice use it. Parking is cheap (if not free) and plentiful everywhere, the schedules are limited - and getting from Point A to Point B often involves going through sections of town like Avondale or Fairmount where "undesirables" might hop on board.
When in Cincy I use the Metro from time to time, and it works OK when its limitations are accounted for. For the meet-up a few weeks ago I took the Clifton-Oakley crosstown (Route 51) and had no complaints. But it helped matters that the weather was excellent, since I needed to walk four blocks to catch it and then another half-mile or so after disembarking. And I also had the luxury of being able to allow for the HOUR the bus took to wend its way along. The vehicle was clean and cool, the ride was smooth, the driver was jovial, and my few fellow passengers kept to themselves. But with everything including the $1.75 fare taken into consideration, it's no small wonder that more people weren't on. The same trip could've been made by car in a third the time for half the money.
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Unread 11-10-2010, 06:11 AM
 
1,018 posts, read 898,785 times
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I used to take the bus to work from Oakley when I worked downtown in the mid-90s. It worked well enough in the morning, but if I had to stay late the office and miss the Sun-run bus, it became an adventure to get back home. Eventually, I gave up on the bus and started to spring for monthly parking.
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Unread 11-12-2010, 01:14 PM
 
88 posts, read 58,114 times
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There's many problems with extending bus routes into the suburbs. For one thing, the hauls are longer and thus are more expensive, while trying to capture an even smaller proportion of the population since the development is less dense. Also, Metro's funding comes mostly from the Cincinnati city income tax, so they get no funding from the county or other suburban municipalities. That makes those long suburban runs even more costly, and it diverts resources that would probably be better spent on improving city service with better crosstown routes.

Transit ridership crashed so quickly in the 1950s after the streetcar system was abandoned that the thought of expanding routes just wasn't really in the cards. Cincinnati Transit and the Green Line in Kentucky were private companies until government takeover in the 1970s, so they had to make money or else go out of business. Yes cutting routes and raising fares didn't help the situation, but nor could they extend a route by several miles just to try to recapture a very small percentage of the dropping ridership. The fixed and variable costs of providing long-haul suburban bus service just didn't (and still generally don't) make financial sense.
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Unread 11-12-2010, 01:43 PM
Status: "Summer's Started" (set 10 days ago)
 
Location: Mason, OH
7,420 posts, read 4,945,913 times
Reputation: 1495
Quote:
Originally Posted by jjakucyk View Post
Transit ridership crashed so quickly in the 1950s after the streetcar system was abandoned that the thought of expanding routes just wasn't really in the cards. Cincinnati Transit and the Green Line in Kentucky were private companies until government takeover in the 1970s, so they had to make money or else go out of business. Yes cutting routes and raising fares didn't help the situation, but nor could they extend a route by several miles just to try to recapture a very small percentage of the dropping ridership. The fixed and variable costs of providing long-haul suburban bus service just didn't (and still generally don't) make financial sense.
So even the private bus company couldn't make it! What a miracle in knowledge this is.

I do agree we need to subsidize public transit within the city. The only question is to how much? To this, I believe buses are the most flexible. You can alter not only their frequency and schedule but the route to try and pick up more passengers. If a route becomes saturated (hopefully) you can not only add more buses but alter their total route quite easily (since they don't run on rails).
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Unread 11-12-2010, 01:53 PM
 
88 posts, read 58,114 times
Reputation: 74
Rail is still the best for medium and high capacity routes. The biggest cost to any transit agency's operations is the salary of the driver. Streetcars and light rail can carry many more people per vehicle (and thus per driver). Buses may be more flexible, but that flexibility also makes them susceptible to all the same problems as cars. The transience of bus routes, in fact their exact flexibility, is also what makes them the least preferred method of traveling for the public, since there's no guarantee of permanence or longevity.

Also, the private bus companies could not survive in the face of the massive government subsidies to roads and highways. The same was true for the interurban railways, the streetcars, and passenger rail. Why should they be required to cover their own costs and make a profit, or even to pay property taxes (in the case of mainline railroads) when roads and highways aren't?
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