Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority

The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) is the public transport agency serving Cincinnati and its Ohio suburbs. SORTA operates Metro fixed-route buses, bus rapid transit, microtransit, and paratransit services. SORTA's headquarters are located at the Huntington Building in Cincinnati’s Central Business District. The agency is managed by CEO and General Manager Darryl Haley along with a 13-member board of trustees. In 2022, the system had a ridership of 9,664,000, or about 42,000 per weekday as of the third quarter of 2023.

Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority
OwnerCity of Cincinnati and Hamilton County
Area servedHamilton County (in addition provides commuter routes from Butler County, Clermont County, and Warren County into Cincinnati)
Transit typeBus, Express bus service, Paratransit
Number of lines
  • 26 local
  • 1 limited
  • 20 express
Number of stations3,800 bus stops[1]
Daily ridership42,000 (weekdays, Q3 2023)[2]
Annual ridership9,664,000 (2022)[3]
Chief executiveDarryl Haley
Headquarters525 Vine Street, Suite 500 Cincinnati, Ohio[4]
Began operationDecember 30, 1952 (as Cincinnati Transit Commission)
Number of vehicles353 transit buses, 46 paratransit vehicles

Downtown Cincinnati is also served by the Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky (TANK), whose transit services extend over the Ohio River into Northern Kentucky.

History edit

SORTA replaced the Cincinnati Transit Commission, which operated buses from 1952 to 1973. In 2012 SORTA Metro released its schedule information in the General Transit Feed Specification, making schedules more easily available to customers.[6] The Cincinnati Bell Connector was operated by SORTA until 2019; the City of Cincinnati has since owned and operated the streetcar. Until 2021, SORTA Metro was funded primarily by Cincinnati's city earnings tax, second by fares, and third by federal sources, with some other minor sources. This stood in contrast to other Ohio transit agencies, such as COTA and GCRTA which are primarily funded by sales tax. For a sense of perspective, the portion of Cincinnati's earnings tax going to Metro's budget was about 0.3%. On May 14, 2020, Hamilton County voters passed Issue 7, which switches the source of SORTA funding to a sales tax. The sales tax in Hamilton County will be raised to 7.8% and the Cincinnati earnings tax is eliminated. The levy is projected to generate $130 million a year, which will be split 100/30 between Metro and road infrastructure respectively. The new sales tax rate went into effect on October 1, 2020.[7] The new funding will be used to implement Reinventing Metro, which is a transit network redesign of its fixed-route services, but also introduces Mobility on Demand and Bus Rapid Transit to the region.

Services edit


SORTA Metro operates about 40 major fixed bus routes, as well as a demand-responsive paratransit service. Of the major routes, roughly half run only at rush hours and are essentially commuter services, some of them serving the reverse commute. The other half operate throughout the day, and some offer increased frequency during rush hours. Approximately 90% of all trips are made on the all-day routes, and 10% on the express commuter routes.

Routes 29X and 82X extend into neighboring Clermont County under an arrangement with the Clermont Transportation Connection.

Routes 71X & 72X extend into neighboring Warren County under an arrangement with Warren County Transit.

Route 42X was a route that extended into neighboring Butler County under an agreement with Butler County Regional Transit Authority (BCRTA). The route was discontinued at the end of 2023. On January 1, 2024, BCRTA started their own route and brand it as CincyLink[8] that will run from Middletown to Downtown Cincinnati.

Mobility on Demand (Spring 2023)

Throughout 2021 and early 2022, Metro has been developing an accessible, on-demand and localized mobility service, including connections to Metro's network of more than 40 fixed bus routes.

Previously referred to as "Mobility On-Demand," this service will be called MetroNow!, with two zones planned to launch pilot service in early 2023. Following these initial pilot launches, Metro will roll out several additional service zones.

Local Routes Serving Downtown Cincinnati
Number Route name Service days Garage
1 Mt. Adams – Eden Park Monday – Friday Queensgate
4 Kenwood – Blue Ash 24/7/365 Service Bond Hill
6 Queen City Sunday – Saturday Queensgate
11 Madison Road – Oakley 24/7/365 Service Bond Hill
Erie Avenue – Hyde Park Sunday – Saturday Bond Hill
Madison Road – 5/3 – Oakley Monday – Friday AM/PM Rush Bond Hill
16 Mt. Healthy – Northgate Sunday – Saturday Queensgate
17 Seven Hills Sunday – Saturday Queensgate
Mt. Healthy 24/7/365 Service Queensgate
19 Colerain – Northgate Sunday – Saturday Queensgate
20 Winton Road – Forest Park Park & Ride Sunday – Saturday Queensgate
21 Harrison Avenue Sunday – Saturday Queensgate
27 Northside – Casey Sunday – Saturday Queensgate
28 East End – Madisonville Sunday – Saturday Queensgate
River Road to Amazon Sunday – Saturday Queensgate
32 Delhi – Sayler Park Sunday – Saturday Queensgate
Covedale – Price Hill via Matson Monday – Friday Queensgate
33 Western Hills via Ferguson 24/7/365 Service Queensgate
43 Reading Road – Sharonville Sunday – Saturday Bond Hill
Bond Hill – Evendale 24/7/365 Service Bond Hill
46 Avondale – Winton Terrace Sunday – Saturday Bond Hill
49 Fairmount – English Woods Sunday – Saturday Queensgate
64 Westwood – Glenway Crossing Sunday – Saturday Queensgate
78 Springdale – Vine Sunday – Saturday Bond Hill
Lincoln Heights 24/7/365 Service Bond Hill
M+ Metro*Plus – Kenwood Monday – Friday Queensgate
Local Crosstown Routes
Number Route name Service days Garage Westbound/Northbound Terminus Eastbound/Southbound Terminus
5 Oakley – Blue Ash - Sharonville Sunday – Saturday Bond Hill Sharonville Kroger Oakley TC
24 MLK - Beechmont Sunday – Saturday Bond Hill Northside TC Area G Anderson Center Station Park & Ride
31 West End – Evanston Sunday – Saturday Queensgate 8th St & State Ave Brewster & Montgomery
36 Price Hill - Norwood Sunday - Saturday Bond Hill Pedretti Ave. & Delhi Rd. Surrey Square Shopping Center
41 Glenway Crossing – Mt. Airy – Oakley Sunday – Saturday Queensgate Glenway Crossing TC Oakley TC
51 Glenway Crossing – Uptown – Hyde Park 24/7/365 Service Bond Hill & Queensgate Glenway Crossing TC Oakley TC
67 Kemper Road Sunday – Saturday Queensgate Fields Ertel Meijer Park & Ride Forest Park Park & Ride
SORTA Local Supplemental Routes (Mostly mid Aug - late May)
Number Route name Service days Garage
4 Amberley Monday – Friday AM/PM Rush Bond Hill
4 Kenwood - Blue Ash via Walnut Hills HS Monday – Friday AM/PM Rush Bond Hill
11 Madison Road – Oakley via Duck Creek Monday – Friday AM/PM Rush Bond Hill
17 Mt. Airy via Aiken Monday – Friday AM/PM Rush (all year) Queensgate
24 MLK - Beechmont via Walnut Hills Monday – Friday AM/PM Rush Bond Hill
31 West End – Evanston Crosstown via Walnut Hills Monday – Friday AM/PM Rush Queensgate
33 Western Hills - Glenway Monday – Friday 1 PM trip Queensgate
41 Glenway Crossing – Mt. Airy – Oakley Crosstown via Belmont Monday – Friday AM/PM Rush Queensgate
51 Glenway Crossing – Uptown – Hyde Park Crosstown via Jonathan Monday – Friday AM/PM Rush Bond Hill & Queensgate
Commuter Routes
Number Route name Service days Garage
2 Madeira Monday – Friday AM/PM Rush Bond Hill
12 Madisonville Monday – Friday AM/PM Rush Bond Hill
22 Glenway Crossing - Madisonville Crosstown Monday – Friday AM/PM Rush Bond Hill
25 Mount Lookout Monday – Friday AM/PM Rush Bond Hill
30 Beechmont Monday – Friday AM/PM Rush Bond Hill
37 Glenway Crossing – MLK – Oakley Crosstown Monday – Friday AM/PM Rush Queensgate
38 Glenway Crossing – Uptown Monday – Friday AM/PM Rush Queensgate
40 Montana Monday – Friday AM/PM Rush Queensgate
50 Sayler Park – Addyston Monday – Friday AM/PM Rush Queensgate
65 Glenway Crossing – Northside Crosstown Monday – Friday AM/PM Rush Queensgate
77 Delhi Monday – Friday AM/PM Rush Queensgate
81 Mount Washington Monday – Friday AM/PM Rush Queensgate
Express Routes
Number Route name Service days Garage
3X Montgomery Job Connection Monday – Friday AM/PM Rush Bond Hill
Montgomery Express Monday – Friday AM/PM Rush Bond Hill
23X Tri-County Express Monday – Friday AM/PM Rush Queensgate
29X Milford Express Monday – Friday AM/PM Rush Queensgate
52X Harrison Express Monday – Friday AM/PM Rush Queensgate
71X Kings Island Job Connection Monday – Friday AM/PM Rush Queensgate
Kings Island Express Monday – Friday AM Rush Queensgate
Kings Island – Fields Ertel Express Monday – Friday AM/PM Rush Queensgate
72X Kings Island Direct Sunday – Saturday (Summer and early Fall) Queensgate
74X Colerain Express via Joseph Monday – Friday AM/PM Rush Queensgate
Colerain Express via Banning Monday – Friday AM/PM Rush Queensgate
75X Anderson Express Monday – Friday AM/PM Rush Bond Hill
82X Eastgate Express Monday – Friday AM/PM Rush Queensgate

Reinventing Metro edit

With the passage of Issue 7 in the spring of 2020, Hamilton County voters approved a sales tax levy of 0.8 percent and a new funding source for Metro. One example of the new Metro is the Northside Transit Center, which is located in Northside and replaced a basic bus stop. The new transit center, which opened in 2020, features eight boarding bays, each with an architecturally designed shelter and enhanced streetscaping, lighting and amenities. In addition, the transit center features artwork designed by winners of the transit agency's art contest for Northside residents. The contest asked residents to submit designs following the theme, "What does Northside mean to me?” The artwork is displayed prominently on installations at the transit center's entrance and exit. The Northside project was a partnership with the Federal Transit Administration, the Ohio Department of Transportation, and other local stakeholders.

Stops and stations edit

Located on Fifth Street between Walnut and Main in Cincinnati, Government Square serves as Metro's downtown transit hub.

Most of SORTA's roughly 3,600 stops are simply marked with a sign on a pole listing routes the stop serves, and are fairly infrastructure-light. Several dozen stops include bus shelters and covered benches. Several suburban stops are park-and-rides. Government Square is the main transit station, located downtown near Fountain Square. SORTA owns and operates several transit centers across the region including the recently constructed Northside Transit Center, Oakley Transit Center, and Glenway Transit Center. SORTA operates the Riverfront Transit Center though it's only used for a layover point for the Metro*Plus route and a stop for route 85.

Fares edit

On April 4, 2021, Metro introduced a simpler fare structure.[9] With this new fare model, base fare increased 25 cents to $2 per ride on all local routes. Express buses are $2.65 within Hamilton County. Certain express routes turned into commuter routes and have a $2 fare. Express routes that go into Butler, Clermont, and Warren County have a fare of $3.75. Zone fares and paper transfers were eliminated. Transfers are only available to those using the Transit app and to 5-ride ticket users. There are several day pass options available to purchase. Mobile fares must be purchased through the Transit app. Refer to the charts for more information. Transfers to higher-cost service require payment of the fare difference. Children under 36 inches ride for free with a fare-paying rider; a limit of 2 children applies.

SORTA fares
Fare type Price Half fare Routes
Hamilton County Local $2 $1 1, 4, 5, 6, 11, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 24, 27, 28, 31, 32, 33, 36, 37, 41, 43, 46, 49, 50, 51, 64, 65, 67, 78, 90 (M+).
Hamilton County Commuter 2, 12, 22, 25, 30, 38, 40, 77, 81
Hamilton County Express $2.65 $1.30 3X, 23X, 29X, 52X, 72X, 74X, 75X
Suburban County Express (Clermont, Warren) $3.75 $1.85 71X, 82X
Access Fare $4
Metro*NOW Fare $2 per ride. No discounted fare.
SORTA passes
Fare type Price
Hamilton County Local & Commuter 24-Hour Pass $4
Metro/TANK 24-Hour Pass $5
Hamilton County Express 24-Hour Pass $5.30
Suburban County Express 24-Hour Pass $7.50
5-ride Hamilton County Local & Commuter Service Ticket $10
Half Fare 24-Hour Pass (Child Fare, Fare Deal, UC, Cincinnati State) $2
Hamilton County Local 30-day Pass $80
Hamilton County Express 30-day Pass $105
Metro/TANK 30-day Pass $105
Suburban County Express 30-day Pass $150

Paper transfers are no longer be issued as of 4/10/2021. Zone fare was eliminated on 4/4/2021.

Garages and fleet edit

SORTA operates about 350 buses on fixed routes, and about 50 smaller vehicles as part of their 'demand responsive services'. All vehicles in SORTA's fleet are ADA accessible. On average, vehicles in the fixed route fleet are 6.9 years old, and in the demand-responsive fleet 1.4 years. Vehicles in the fixed route fleet are rated, on average, for a capacity and 65 passengers, both sitting and standing.[10]

All fixed-route buses have a bike rack mounted on the front with room for two bicycles.


  • Queensgate Garage 1401 Bank Street, Cincinnati, OH 45214
  • Bond Hill Garage 4700 Paddock Road, Cincinnati, OH 45229
Current buses in fleet
Year Manufacturer Model Fleet numbers Bond Hill Queensgate Notes
2008 New Flyer D40LF 8001–8024 None None active 8006, 8018, 8019 in contingency fleet. All others retired.
2009 New Flyer D40LF 9038–9067 None None active 9046, 9050, 9052, 9058, 9060-9062 retired. All others in contingency fleet.
2010 New Flyer DE40LF 9068–9070 None None active 9068-9069 retired. 9070 in contingency fleet.
2011 New Flyer DE40LFR 1101–1114 None None active All buses in contingency fleet.
2011 Gillig Low Floor 1201 1201 None
2012 Gillig Low Floor 1202–1245 1202–1220 1221–1245 1226 out of service after crashing into a pole on 4/8/23.[11]
2013 Gillig Low Floor Plus 1301–1310 None 1301-1307, 1309-1310 Former METRO*PLUS buses. Now used on any route. 1308 retired in 2021.
2013 Gillig Low Floor 1321–1343 1331-1334, 1336-1343 1321–1330 1335 retired due to fire in August 2022.
2015 Gillig Low Floor 1501–1537 1501-1510 1511–1525, 1527-1537 1526 retired in August 2022 due to fire damage. 1533–1537 have Allison transmissions instead of the Voith transmissions.
2016 Gillig Low Floor Commute 1601–1622 1601-1607 1608–1622 Mostly used on express/commuter routes. Can occasionally be seen on local routes.
2018 Gillig Low Floor 1801–1819 None 1801-1819 1801 has factory installed driver's barrier.
2018–19 Gillig Low Floor 1820–1829 1830 1821-1829 1830 has factory installed driver's barrier. 1824–1830 are 2019 models. 1830 out of service. Last seen 12/10/22.
2019 Gillig Low Floor 1901–1934 1901-1914 1915–1934 1934 has two different seat types.
2020 Gillig Low Floor 2001–2021 2001–2008, 2010–2011 2012–2016, 2018–2021 2009 was renumbered to 2020. 2017 was renumbered to 2021. 2018 out of service after being hit by another driver on 4/3/23. [12]
2020–21 Gillig Low Floor 2022–2031 2027-2031 2022–2026
2021 Gillig Low Floor 2140–2170 2140-2154 2155–2170 First buses bought with Allison transmission since 2015.
2022 Gillig Low Floor 2201–2225 2201–2215 2216–2225 2023 models built in late 2022.
2023 Gillig Low Floor 2311-2325 None 2311-2325 All buses in service as of 2/16/2024.

Future bus orders

Year Manufacturer Model Series #'s Notes.
2023 Gillig Low Floor Hybrid 2301-2310 10 buses due to be placed in service in early 2024.
TBA TBA Electric buses TBD Received $5.5 million grant towards 11 electric buses[13]

See also edit

Adjacent public transit agencies:

Other major public transit agencies in Ohio:

References edit

  1. ^ "SORTA's current GTFS feed data". SORTA. Retrieved 24 December 2014.
  2. ^ "Transit Ridership Report Third Quarter 2023" (PDF). American Public Transportation Association. November 30, 2023. Retrieved December 6, 2023.
  3. ^ "Transit Ridership Report Fourth Quarter 2022" (PDF). American Public Transportation Association. March 1, 2023. Retrieved March 29, 2023.
  4. ^ "Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the Fiscal Year Ended December 31, 2013" (PDF). Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority. 2014. p. 19. Retrieved December 26, 2014.
  5. ^ Coolidge, Sharon (October 6, 2016). "Full speed ahead: Streetcar operator will run more streetcars". The Cincinnati Enquirer. Retrieved October 7, 2016.
  6. ^ "Developer Data". Retrieved 13 January 2015.
  7. ^ "Issue 7: Transit levy passes, increasing the sales tax in Hamilton County". 14 May 2020.
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Fare Simplification – Go Metro". Retrieved 2021-02-23.
  10. ^ "National Transit Database". National Transit Database. Federal Transit Administration. Archived from the original on 7 February 2015. Retrieved 16 January 2015.
  11. ^ "Bus crashes into utility pole in Northside, Duke Energy on scene". 8 April 2023.
  12. ^ "Metro crash closes Western Hills Viaduct upper deck". 3 April 2023.
  13. ^ "News - Go Metro".

External links edit