Climbing bus fare and shifting service routes could hit Cincinnati’s bus system soon as the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) scrambles for cash.
On Tuesday, SORTA approved a balanced 2018 budget but warned that without additional funding, deficits could require a reduction of services as early as 2019.
“Funding for our current system is not keeping pace with costs,” Dwight Ferrell, Metro’s CEO said in a written statement. “The old model is broken, both in terms of service delivery and funding.”
Metro provides about 15 million rides per year in the Greater Cincinnati area, according to data provided by SORTA. It is unclear what routes could get the ax or how disruptive deficits could be to daily service down the road.
In addition to a potential disruption or consolidation of existing routes, SORTA may have to increase the fare price in June, which would be the first price increase since 2009.
A fare increase public meeting is being scheduled and it is unclear if City Council would approve additional charges for riders.
Next year, SORTA will have 101 buses that are 12 years or older, which is past their “useful life," according to Metro.