Dems Explore Changes in Bus System

(Photo: Neoplan USA)
One of the more immediate effects of the new Democratic majority on the Hamilton County Commission is that changes to the Metro bus system long sought by Cincinnati officials may soon become a reality.

Hamilton County Commission President Todd Portune and Cincinnati City Councilman John Cranley have begun a series of private discussions about altering how the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) is funded. The agency manages the Metro system.

Although SORTA operates independently, about half of Metro’s $73.5 million annual budget comes from a portion of Cincinnati’s earnings tax, and city and county officials appoint the agency’s board of trustees. Hamilton County provides some money, mostly to subsidize service for disabled riders, with the remainder of the budget coming from state and federal grants.

Cranley, a Democrat who heads city council’s Finance Committee, for years has alleged that SORTA had excessive overhead costs and has reconfigured service to favor suburban riders in outlying counties. In the past, the Republican-controlled county commission largely ignored his complaints. With Portune and newly elected David Pepper forming a Democratic majority on the three-member commission, however, the issue is being reviewed.

Portune and Cranley are planning to form a citizen task force to examine how SORTA is funded and recommend possible changes. The task force likely will be formed within the next two months and is expected to complete its work later this year. If the county commission and city council approve any recommendations, the changes could be implemented within 90 days of the decision, Cranley says.

“This is a work in progress, but I’m pleased that these concerns are finally being addressed,” he says.

Metro provides more than 22 million rides per year, and brings about 20 percent of downtown Cincinnati’s workforce into the city each weekday.

— Kevin Osborne

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2 Comments on “Dems Explore Changes in Bus System”

  1. Not the Mamma Cass! Says:

    here’s the problem: SORTA’s been looked at and looked at and looked at. What a surprise it’s being looked at again going into a Council election year!

    Get behind MetroMoves, DO the trolleys instead of talking about them again, and get every jurisdiction served by Metro to contribute it’s fair share.

    That was easy!

  2. Kevin Osborne Says:


    I think “get(ting) every jurisdiction served by Metro to contribute its fair share” is the hard part. We will be watching to see if anything happens on this issue this time.

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