Metro will decide on course of action by Friday

UPDATE: Nov. 18

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - With Cincinnati's City Council not approving the entire fare increase package, Metro will now have to decide a course of action for their 2010 budget.

City Council approved the fare increase for Metro, but did not act on the fare increase proposal for Access. This will leave  Metro with a budget shortfall of $200,000 dollars for 2010.

Metro says that the fare increase for Access was integral to balance the budget. Now they will have to make a decision by Friday for a plan of action based on City Council's decision.

Metro says that the fare increase will not automatically be implemented and service may still be cut by 20%.

METRO Fare and Service Changes?

CINCINNATI – Faced with an unprecedented $ 16 million operating and capital budget shortfall in 2010 due to the recession, Metro is proposing a 12% service reduction paired with a fare increase to balance the budget next year, effective Sunday, Dec. 27, 2009.

Fare increases require Cincinnati City Council approval.

If City Council does not approve the fare increase by Friday, Nov. 20, Metro will be forced to implement a 20% service reduction (with no fare increase) on Sunday, Dec. 27, 2009 to balance the 2010 budget, as required by law.

The proposal of a 12% service reduction with a fare increase will save almost 1 million rides for Metro customers and 55 full-time jobs for Metro operators and mechanics, compared to the 20% service reduction option.

The fare increase being proposed with the 12% service reduction would include:

Zone 1, base fare: $0.25 increase (Zone 1, City of Cincinnati)

Zone 2 fare: $0.40 increase (Zone 2, Hamilton County)

Transfer charge: $0.25 increase Monthly passes:

Increase monthly pass and Fare Deal sticker prices to reflect fare increases Zone 1 pass discount:

Eliminate the $5 monthly pass discount for Access paratransit service for people whose disabilities make riding Metro impossible, the following options are proposed for both scenarios:

ADA service only: Provide service only at the level required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (Access currently provides limited service to some "grandfathered" customers that goes beyond what the ADA requires) ADA maximum fare: Increase fares to the ADA-allowable fare (twice Metro's fare for a comparable trip)

"We listened to our customers, both at the public meeting on Oct. 2 and through surveys. Most were willing to accept a fare increase with a smaller service reduction, which is the option we are recommending," said Marilyn Shazor, Metro's CEO.

"Our goal has been to preserve as much service as possible for our customers. But we're facing a $16 million shortfall next year and the money only stretches so far. We are required by law to have a balanced budget."

Budget background: About half of Metro's budget comes from the City of Cincinnati's earnings tax. The city has been downgrading its 2010 projections all summer, and currently projects a $6.6 million reduction in Metro's 2010 revenue. Ridership and fare revenue are down significantly due to the recession. Funding from the State of Ohio is also down.

Metro has cut overhead expenses significantly for 2010, and layoffs of both union and non-union employees are planned as part of the service reduction and budget implementation.

Metro is a non-profit public service of the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority, providing about 22 million rides per year in Greater Cincinnati.

- Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority