Cincinnati Chamber unveils the new five-year strategic framework to foster regional growth

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Read articles and learn more about the Cincinnati Chamber through our related news articles

Introducing United Way’s 2024 Campaign Co-Chairs
Metro, City of Cincinnati Partner to Benefit City Employees

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Read articles and learn more about the Cincinnati Chamber through our related news articles

Introducing United Way’s 2024 Campaign Co-Chairs
Metro, City of Cincinnati Partner to Benefit City Employees

Service options, community support drive Metro ridership growth

A thriving community requires a thriving public transit system.

As other systems around the country face economic and ridership challenges, Metro has been able to regain and even grow pre-pandemic ridership levels, thanks to tremendous support from the community and our emphasis on innovation.

The backing of the community comes from both the public at large and elected leaders. Hamilton County residents gave us their vote of confidence by passing the Issue 7 sales tax in 2020. This meant that we did not have to make the difficult decision many of our peers made to cut service during the pandemic, and Issue 7 is allowing us to invest in our community and roll out upgrades.

And we’ve worked hard to communicate to elected decision-makers the critical role public transit plays in the health of the community. That message is connecting. Here’s what Alicia Reece, president of the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners, has said: “Metro understands that we must connect our citizens to the jobs, the hospitals, the technology and the entrepreneurship. And the only way to do that is to have a robust, transformational transportation system.”

Ohio Sen. Catherine Ingram has praised Metro’s work to transform public transit through our five-phase Reinventing Metro plan, rolled out following the passage of Issue 7. Ingram lauded the changes so far and those she looks forward to in future phases. The word that best describes Reinventing Metro is “more.” We’ve introduced more routes, six new crosstown routes, seven 24/7 service routes, on-board amenities like free Wi-Fi and charging ports, more vehicles, drivers, bus stops and shelters, and a whole lot more.

In May 2023, for example, we introduced the MetroNow! on-demand service in Springdale/Sharonville and Mount Healthy/Northgate zones; we have already delivered more than 40,000 rides as of March, with plans to ramp up service and introduce more zones later this year. And we’re thrilled to be planning and executing Bus Rapid Transit. After robust research and public input, we selected two debut corridors, Hamilton Avenue and Reading Road, and we’re deep into the complex process of bringing this forward-thinking transit option to life.

With so many great new amenities and services being rolled out, we felt the time was right to refresh our brand. We introduced a new look for Metro in early 2024, capturing the energy and forward-focus that are so essential to who we are.

We continue to grow ridership levels. Our combined services — including fixed-route, MetroNow! and our paratransit Access service — provided 13.1 million rides in 2023, a 32% increase over 2022. Currently, we have reached 110% of our pre-pandemic ridership compared to the 75% national average.

In a recent survey, we found that 30% of our riders had been riding Metro for less than two years. That tells us that our service improvements and community engagement are working. One customer, Mala Escobar told us that she had only recently begun riding Metro. Car troubles led her to give us a try, and the service and convenience have kept her riding.

Two other factors that are helping us retain and attract riders: We emphasize listening and learning, through public forums, community sessions, surveys and everyday conversations. And we take the time to celebrate with our community and show our appreciation, whether it’s providing an acoustic musician to ride along on routes or holding roller-skating parties on the public rink during our 50th anniversary celebration month.

Our region demands, and deserves, forward-thinking transportation that makes lives better. Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval had this to say about Metro’s impact: “For 50 years, they have been the backbone of our economic growth, of our commitment to racial equity. The future of Greater Cincinnati and this region counts on Metro.”

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