Thursday, March 15, 2012

Metro to update regional transit plan, study Uptown service

Within the next couple of weeks, Cincinnati Metro is preparing to launch its Way to go* initiative, an update to its 2008 regional transit plan.

As part of the initiative, Metro has scheduled public meetings for:

In addition to the public input sessions, Metro is soliciting feedback through an online survey on its website, through social media such as Facebook and Twitter, surveys on buses and at other Metro locations, and through public outreach at events throughout the summer.

Metro will use the ideas it to create an updated plan by the end of the year. Since the last update, Metro has added new styles of buses – including hybrid and "accordion" vehicles, partnered with the Cincinnati Zoo on a new LEED-certified transit center, built a new transit center in Western Hills, introduced new fare options, and improved electronic communications with its customers.

All of this is necessary for an organization that provides approximately 17 million rides per year.

"Our goal is to define 'the new Metro' – a customer-driven, sustainable regional transit system," Metro CEO and General Manager Terry Garcia Crews said in a media release. "Through surveys, phone interviews and public meetings, we'll map specifically where Metro needs to evolve its routes and services. This planning initiative will help us define how Metro should best allocate its current resources and prepare for the future."

Transit district in the works

Of special interest to many respondents may be a proposed Uptown transit district, currently under development.

Three to four years ago, Metro began looking at the Uptown neighborhoods, home to the City's second-largest employment cluster and some of the service's most popular routes.

"Some of our biggest routes pass through there, but we realized that we had very few amenities for our customers," said Sallie Hilvers, executive director of strategic communications for Metro. "It's been kind of hit-or-miss."

The initial idea was for a "universal transit hub", where multiple routes could converge. But with so many major employers and so many routes scattered over such a wide area, that idea was deemed unworkable.

"One building was not really going to suit our needs," Hilvers said. "Instead we visualized it as a transit district, with pods of areas connecting the major points of our services."

This would be achieved by enhancing Metro's current on-street amenities, while factoring in other modes of transportation such as employer shuttles, BRT, and the Cincinnati streetcar. Other considerations include proximity to potential users, future route planning, and the potential for ridership growth.

Before presenting the plan to the public, Metro will continue meeting with the City and community partners possible designs and a refinement of locations and amenities.

"Transit is very steady – and pretty heavy – in the Uptown area," Hilvers said. "Our goal is to make it work as a system, not just as individual structures."

Previous reading on BC:
Metro adds three hybrid buses to fleet (8/5/10)
Metro wins $1.9M for hybrid buses (6/10/10)
Metro honored for safety, plans new communications system (6/8/10)

Tell your Metro story, win free bus rides for a year (6/1/10)

Metro, TANK to offer free rides on Bike to Work Day (5/11/10)