Cincinnati’s Metro provided more than one million trips in the month of January, marking the first time the transit agency has reached the ridership milestone since early 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the region.
To help celebrate the occasion, Metro identified Mala Escobar as January’s one-millionth rider. Escobar told Metro she recently began riding the bus to her place of employment in Bond Hill after experiencing car trouble. Even though she has since had her vehicle repaired, she said she is happy the experience introduced her to Metro as a transportation alternative and she continues to ride.
For the noteworthy part she has played in Metro’s ongoing comeback from the pandemic, the staff congratulated Escobar with a 30-day bus pass, a bag stuffed with Metro goodies, and recognition at the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) Board of Trustees Planning & Operations Committee meeting.
“Ms. Escobar’s story is a very familiar one to us here at Metro,” said Sr. VP, External Affairs, Brandy Jones. “As the Reinventing Metro plan continues to build our service across Hamilton County, these ridership numbers tell us we remain on the right path toward building one of the most robust and dependable transit agencies in the country. In cases like Ms. Escobar’s, we’re also seeing that once someone goes Metro, they’ll keep coming back.”
Unlike most of its peers, who made the difficult decision to cut service during the pandemic, Metro had the opportunity to add service, thanks to the passage of Issue 7 in 2020. In the nearly two years since, Metro has introduced new, 24-hour service on seven routes; launched two new crosstown routes; increased frequency and service-hour span on most routes; simplified numerous route alignments and Metros’ fare structure; and added new weekend service and state-of-the-art amenities like free, onboard Wi-Fi and charging ports, all as part of the Reinventing Metro plan.
As a result of these improvements, last month saw a 68% increase in monthly ridership over January 2022 and a more than 80% return to pre-pandemic (2019) levels, exceeding the national average return by nearly 20%, according to data collected by the American Public Transportation Association.
These improvements also have laid the groundwork for two of Metro’s most exciting new service offerings: an on-demand service, MetroNow!, slated to launch Spring of 2023, and bus rapid transit, which is being designed for the Hamilton Avenue and Reading Road corridors throughout Hamilton County.