Public transit has its problems

Go Metro has faced a decline in the number of riders over the last two years

Graphic courtesy of Flickr | Complicated routes and overly-minimalistic signs have created confusion for some students who would otherwise be using Go Metro as a way to commute to campus. However, steps are being taken to improve.

For the last two years, Go Metro has seen a five percent decline in riders each year. Xavier students that rely on public transportation have been heavily impacted.

While only five percent of the Cincinnati population uses public transportation, Go Metro struggles to fulfill the needs of the commuters who depend on having a public transportation system.

“I had to use the Metro last spring semester, which wasn’t a fun experience,” junior Sean Wayne said. “The first few times I used the bus, I was either late for class or was confused about the routes. It did get easier to adjust after about a week or so.”

Go Metro’s bus signs are very minimal, with only a route number and Go Metro’s website information. The signs lack information on destination or direction.

Go Metro does have an app that it claims allows for easy payment options and bus route information, but not all riders have access to this app. The recently launched “Better Bus Map” aims to simplify the routes of the bus system and promote more ridership, though results remain to be seen.

Access, however, is only one of the many problems that Go Metro continues to face.

“The system is underfunded, and the fleet is aging,” Xavier professor and urbanist historian Dr. John Fairfield said.

The bus system relies heavily on funding from city taxes despite serving the entirety Hamilton County and portions of Warren, Butler and Clermont counties.

“There is a need for other jurisdictions, and perhaps local employers, to contribute to the service,” Fairfield said.

Though most Xavier students do not rely on Go Metro, Fairfield explains that “Many city residents depend on it for access to employment, health care and the other tasks of daily life.”

Photo courtesy of GoMetro | Over the last two years, Go Metro has seen the number of riders decline by five percent each year. The system already is only used by five percent of the city’s population.

Most commuting Xavier students are reluctant to depend on the Metro.

“It’s a time and reliability issue. Just driving around the city, you see how many stops the buses make. It would take me forever to get to school,” junior Zach Vanet said. “Plus, I have a car, so why would I take the bus? Just seems inconvenient.”

The City of Cincinnati has made multiple efforts over the years to improve the city’s public transportation, and Xavier alumni have been close to the action. The streetcar initiative — which is one of the most controversial topics in city politics — was assisted by Xavier alum and professor Sean Comer. The streetcar was opened in 2016

Recent Xavier graduate Giovanni Rocco helped lead the charge in eliminating parking minimums in Over-the-Rhine this past September.

Parking minimums require developers to provide parking space along with any properties that they develop. This model encourages private vehicle ownership, thus discouraging use of public transportation. By encouraging use of public transportation, the city will have more incentive to invest in the public transportation system.

Outside of Xavier influence, Cincinnati is testing a pilot bus-lane initiative in response to advocacy by the Better Bus Coalition.

During morning and evening rush hours, the far right lane on Main street is intended to be used solely by Go Metro buses. The bus lane will hopefully decrease transit time.

Fairfield still believes in the value of Go Metro for those who do not have a car and who need a dependable transit to get around the city despite its shortcomings.

“I don’t believe Xavier students use (Go Metro) much. I think that’s a shame because the bus provides access to the many cultural resources the city provides. Xavier needs to do a better job of encouraging students to make greater use of the city in which we reside,” Fairfield said.

By: Devin Luginbill | Staff Writer