Cranley lists improving public transit as one of his top priorities for new term

CINCINNATI -- Mayor John Cranley pointed to improving the region's public transit system as a top priority going into his second term, among a number of pivotal issues.

"We have to connect more people to jobs by better public transit," Cranley said during Tuesday's inaugural session of City Council.

"I've bought a bus pass, and I encourage you all to do the same," he said, noting that he's begun taking the bus a few times a week from his home in Hyde Park to City Hall Downtown.

Bus service was a key issue for Cranley along the campaign trail -- continuing a trend in local elections over the last two decades.

"I will continue to (ride the bus) to bring attention to this issue," he told the inauguration's audience.

He described a vision of a "fully integrated" transit system, that connects Metro bus service with other modes of transportation like the streetcar, bike share and ride share services like Uber and Lyft.

Metro is staring at a $150 million deficit over the next decade, according to CEO and General Manager Dwight Ferrell. Ferrell and his staff spent much of 2017 developing their "Reinvent Metro" plan as a proposed solution to the budget gap. They presented the plan to the transit authority's board of trustees in December.

Part of that plan would include a county-wide sales tax to fund Metro operations and capital expenses over the next decade. The board approved a measure instructing transit authority staff to pursue options for placing the tax levy measure on the 2018 ballot. The board has not yet determined what that sales tax proposal will look like.

Recent studies have shown that Cincinnati Metro is not reasonably accessible for more than 75,000 regional workers.

Notably absent from Cranley's remarks was mention of improving the city's roads, something he has been vocal about throughout the course of his first term. That's likely because the Capital Acceleration Plan, launched in 2015, is poised to have brought the city's roads up to speed by 2020, he previously told WCPO.

"Over the last three years, we have been doing this CAP program to increase road paving and fleet replacement," he said. "We sort of surged capital spending to fix our roads. By 2020 we will have caught up on our roads."

Once that program expires, Cranley plans to begin diverting that money toward funding a new Western Hills Viaduct, he announced last month.

Among other "bold goals" Cranley outlined during his inauguration remarks:

  • Laying the groundwork to increase the city's population to 330,000 by 2030, and to 350,000 by 2050.
  • 100-percent use of renewable energy by 2035.
  • Cut the poverty rate in half by 2035.

Pat LaFleur reports on transportation and mobility for WCPO. Connect with him on Twitter (@pat_laFleur) and on Facebook.

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