Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Metro announces plans for $6.9M Uptown Transit District

Cincinnati Metro this morning unveiled plans for an Uptown Transit District, a $6.9 million project to better serve the residents and employees of the Uptown neighborhoods by the end of 2013.

The City of Cincinnati, the University of Cincinnati, and the Uptown Consortium have partnered with Metro to develop the multisite district, which will help unify the ten Metro routes and multiple Uptown shuttles serving the area.

Under the plan, four distinct locations will serve commuters with improved sheltered boarding areas, real-time schedule boards, wayfinding kiosks, and enhanced streetscaping and sidewalk improvements.

The four locations include:
  • The University of Cincinnati, on Jefferson Avenue;
  • University Hospital and medical center on Burnet Avenue;
  • Hughes Corner business district at Clifton Avenue and W McMillan and Calhoun streets; and
  • Vine Street, between McMillan and Calhoun streets.
The project is currently being designed by MSA Architects, and construction is scheduled to begin next spring.

Need is 'astounding'

Uptown is the second largest employment center in the City, with more than 55,000 employees. It's also home to more than 51,000 residents and a university of 34,000 students.

The result is that Uptown contains some of the most popular bus routes, with some 7,000 passenger boardings daily. And with more than $700 million in projects either recently completed or in development, that number is expected to grow.

"The need for transit service is really astounding," said Beth Robinson, president and CEO of the Uptown Consortium.

Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls praised the partners' willingness to innovate and to create new opportunities by tying the plan into the existing urban fabric.

"This is something that's of central importance," she said. "If it's going to thrive, there have to be multiple opportunities for a robust transit system Uptown. Simply facilitating automobile traffic is not sufficient."

An additional benefit will be the further step toward moving Cincinnati away from its largely "hub-and-spoke" system, which Metro CEO and General Manager Terry Garcia Crews admits can be inconvenient for passengers.

"We're trying to make transportation different here in Cincinnati," she said. "This is another stepping stone. "In order to do that, we have to have the right infrastructure to support those crosstown routes."

Funding for the project comes from a federal earmark and federal Congestion Mitigation/Air Quality (CMAQ) funds made available through the Ohio Department of Transportation and OKI Regional Council of Governments, as well as local capital funds.

Rendering and map courtesy of Cincinnati Metro

Previous reading on BC:
$2.5M FTA grant to provide Metro with six more 'mini-hybrid' buses (7/25/12)
Real-time bus information boards come to Government Square (7/2/12)
Metro news: vendor fair, rail manager, 'Dump the Pump' event (6/20/12)
Cyclists ride buses for free tomorrow (5/16/12)
Metro to update regional transit plan, study Uptown service (3/15/12)