How well does Metro get you from point A to point B? Study asks riders to share their stories

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Posted at 5:00 AM, Jul 02, 2019

For many Cincinnati area Metro riders, riding the bus isn't a choice.

It's their only option to get from Point A to Point B, C and D.

"I got to get up about 4:30 to get to work," Metro rider Lisa Nichols, who works in Walnut Hills, told 9 On Your Side. "It is a long ride, but at the same time I enjoy the ride."

Donna O'Bannion takes Metro from her home in Westwood to Downtown every day -- and sometimes further.

"You're talking about an hour, hour and a half," O'Bannion said. "When it gets real cold or it's real hot, you know, because I have to climb up Westwood-Northern Boulevard. So that's a hike going up that hill."

These are the details the Hamilton County Human Services Chamber is capturing as part of its Equitable Public Transit Project. It is an aggressive plan to survey metro riders throughout Cincinnati and Hamilton County about their experiences on the bus.

"We want to go into communities that have a lot of folks that rely on the bus for their transportation and find out what kind of improvements are needed at the community level to really improve bus service," said Gina Marsh, executive director of the Hamilton County Human Services Chamber.

The Human Service Chamber is a coalition of over 50 human services agencies in Hamilton County.

Its survey is targeting eight neighborhoods and communities: Avondale, North Fairmount, South Fairmount, Walnut Hills , Mt. Airy, Winton Terrace, Mt. Healthy, Lincoln Heights and Springdale.

Marsh said they have already seen a variety of responses to the survey.

"It really is the full gamut," she said. "We have a lot of folks in these communities who don't have a car."

There are two surveys being circulated in the communities and available online. One is a 17-question survey for frequent bus riders. The other is a 12-question survey for less frequent bus riders.

Frequent Metro riders are asked questions such as: how often they ride, what routes do they normally take, how many times do they have to transfer and how long does the ride last. Questions asked to less frequent riders include what are some the reasons why they don't ride the bus more often, and would you ride the bus more often if the buses ran more frequently, you felt safer or fares were lower.

"It's different for every community and the only way you really find out is to talk to the people," Marsh said. "There are details that you really don't understand until you talk to the actual riders."

She said they have already heard some of the responses from riders about changes they would like to see. Concerns range from needing bus shelters to better weekend service to express routes to grocery stores.

"We want to come up with about four or five short-term improvements that the community agrees upon and take those to Cincinnati Metro and say, 'Here's what this community needs,'" Marsh said.

The study likely won't be completed until next year, but some preliminary results should be out by the end of this year.

Meanwhile, riders who live their lives by the bus schedule say they welcome anything that might make things easier.

"It's my whole life," Nichols said. "Because I don't drive."