Who Knew? Cincinnati Metro bus roots & routes go way back, to the old streetcar system

CINCINNATI - The Tri-State is home to many fascinating facts, offbeat oddities, and "I did not know that," moments. With that in mind, we introduce this new weekly feature. Read on to find out how you can submit an idea for "Who Knew?"

From 1859 to 1952, Cincinnati Street Railway operated the public transit system in our city, designating numbers for streetcar routes and letters for bus routes.

After the streetcar system closed in 1951, buses took over their routes and inherited the numbering system. While some routes have changed over time, the majority of Metro buses follow the same roads that streetcar rails used 63 years ago.

Q&A with Tom McNamara

1. When did Metro begin converting buses to the former streetcar numbering system?

In 1975, a few years after Metro began overseeing operations, technological advancements allowed the agency to rename all the lettered routes to numbers.

2. How are the bus routes similar to the former streetcar routes?

While bus routes have changed over the years due to urban renewal and suburban sprawl, most still follow the original streetcar routes. For example, 21 Westwood Cheviot still serves that part of the West Side, and 78 Lockland serves the Valley and Tri-County, just like it did back in the day.

3. Who decided which route would get what number?

The original route numbers were assigned to streetcar divisions, the hub where certain fleets were located. The facility on Hewitt Avenue had streetcars numbered 1-10, Brighton 15-21, Hyde Park was 67-72.

4. What was one of the first bus routes to change from letter to number?

Mt. Washington changed from MW to route 24.

5. Which routes have changed over time?

Route numbers have been re-issued two or three times over the years. Route 71 was originally designated for Milford, then became Cumminsville, and now travels to King's Island. Route 20 once followed 6th Street, but now it goes to Tri-County.

Check back next Tuesday for another edition of "Who Knew?" If you have an tip, idea or question email: holly.edgell@wcpo.com.

Connect with WCPO Contributor Paige E. Malott on Twitter: @Paigetastic01 , and check out her blog CincyWhimsy.com

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