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SORTA attempts to soothe CPS parents' fears of 'catastrophic' changes to busing

Top SORTA leaders resign from positions as bus agency faces shake-up in 2018
Posted at 11:07 PM, Aug 05, 2021

CINCINNATI — Parents of Cincinnati Public Schools students raised concerns about safety and unsupervised children at bus stops at a special meeting of the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) Thursday evening.

It came one day after CPS’ board unanimously voted to oppose Metro’s elimination of the XTRA routes.

The plan now is for CPS students in grades seven through 12 to use Metro buses on regular routes to get to and from school. It’s a change from the XTRA routes, which took CPS on a more direct route to school buildings, which had been in place for the past four decades.

Metro said the change this year means the bus schedules will be consistent and students will have fewer transfers.

SORTA officials said they met with CPS transportation leaders and have been keeping them informed of the changes since the beginning of July.

“We’re doing everything we can to reassure the parents that it’s going to be safe, and that we’ll take care of the children,” SORTA vice president Khaled Shammout said. “Just as we did on the XTRA service. Which, again, that was also open to the public.”

CPS board member Eve Bolton sent a letter to the leader of SORTA with the hope that bus routes provided to CPS students for decades would be reinstated. The changes were announced just days before the start of the 2021 school year.

Letter to SORTA From Eve Bolton by WCPO 9 News on Scribd

“My concern about this is, at the start of school, this will be more than disastrous,” Bolton said. “It’ll be catastrophic.”

Shammout said transitioning back to the XTRA routes isn’t possible with so little time left before the beginning of school.

“For this year, it’s not a viable option,” he said. “Just because the amount of time it would take to recreate the network, to provide the XTRA service to the students, it’s not something that can be done overnight.”