The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) is the public transport agency serving Cincinnati and its Ohio suburbs. The agency provides Metro transit bus service, and Access paratransit service. SORTA replaced the Cincinnati Transit Commission, which operated buses from 1952 to 1973. In 2021, the system had a ridership of 7,591,600, or about 31,200 per weekday as of the second quarter of 2022.
|Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority|
|Owner||City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County|
|Area served||Hamilton County (in addition provides commuter routes from Butler County, Clermont County, and Warren County into Cincinnati)|
|Transit type||Bus, Express bus service, Paratransit|
|Number of lines||
|Number of stations||4,465 bus stops, 18 streetcar stations|
|Daily ridership||31,200 (weekdays, Q2 2022)|
|Annual ridership||7,591,600 (2021)|
|Chief executive||Darryl Haley|
|Headquarters||525 Vine Street, Suite 500 Cincinnati, Ohio|
|Began operation||December 30, 1952 (as Cincinnati Transit Commission)|
|Number of vehicles||353 transit buses, 46 paratransit vehicles, 5 streetcars|
SORTA 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.
Revenue of 2017–18 was $510 million.
SORTA 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 at the rush hours. Approximately 90% of all trips are made on the all-day routes, 10% on the express commuter routes. In 2012 SORTA released its schedule information in the General Transit Feed Specification, making schedules more easily available to customers.
Starting with the 2021–22 school year, SORTA no longer provides direct school bus services to Cincinnati Public Schools. Students will be given bus passes to use on regular service. Students in grades 7 & 8 will be able to ride from 6:00am to 6:30pm on school days. Students in grades 9–12 will be able to ride regular service Monday – Saturday from 6:00am to 9:30pm, to allow students to participate in extracurricular activities and after-school employment. There will be increased service on 12 routes to accommodate the increase of students riding regular bus service instead of the specialized routes. Some routes may deviate off route to drop off students in front of their schools before returning to their regular routing. Two new crosstown routes were added (routes 37 & 65).
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 extend into neighboring Butler County under an agreement with Butler County Regional Transit Authority (BCRTA).
|Number||Route name||Service days||Garage|
|1||Mt. Adams – Eden Park||Monday–Friday||Queensgate|
|2||Madeira||Monday–Friday AM/PM Rush||Bond Hill|
|3X||Montgomery Job Connection||Monday–Friday AM/PM Rush||Bond Hill|
|3X||Montgomery Express||Monday–Friday AM/PM Rush||Bond Hill|
|4||Kenwood – Blue Ash||24/7/365 Service||Bond Hill|
|4||Ridge Road||Sunday–Saturday||Bond Hill|
|4||Silverton – Blue Ash||Monday–Friday||Bond Hill|
|4||Norwood||Monday–Friday AM/PM Rush||Bond Hill|
|11||Madison Road – Oakley||24/7/365 Service||Bond Hill|
|11||Erie Avenue – Hyde Park||Sunday–Saturday||Bond Hill|
|11||Madison Road – 5/3 – Oakley||Monday–Friday AM/PM Rush||Bond Hill|
|12||Madisonville||Monday–Friday AM/PM Rush||Bond Hill|
|15||Hamilton Ave. – Mt. Healthy||Monday–Friday AM/PM Rush||Queensgate|
|15||Daly Road||Monday–Friday AM/PM Rush||Queensgate|
|15||Daly Road via Belmont||Monday – Friday AM/PM Rush||Queensgate|
|17||Mt. Healthy||24/7/365 Service||Queensgate|
|19||Colerain – Northgate||Sunday–Saturday||Queensgate|
|20||Winton Road – Tri-County||Sunday–Saturday||Queensgate|
|23X||Tri-County Express||Monday–Friday AM/PM Rush||Queensgate|
|24||Uptown – Mt. Lookout – Anderson||Monday–Sunday||Bond Hill|
|24||Uptown – Mt. Lookout – US Bank – Anderson||Monday–Friday AM/PM Rush||Bond Hill|
|25||Mount Lookout||Monday–Friday AM/PM Rush||Bond Hill|
|27||Northside – Casey||Sunday–Saturday||Queensgate|
|28||East End – Madisonville||Sunday–Saturday||Queensgate|
|28||River Road to Amazon||Sunday–Saturday||Queensgate|
|29X||Milford Express||Monday–Friday AM/PM Rush||Queensgate|
|30||Beechmont||Monday–Friday AM/PM Rush||Bond Hill|
|30||Beechmont – US Bank||Monday–Friday AM/PM Rush||Bond Hill|
|31||West End – Evanston Crosstown||Sunday–Saturday||Queensgate|
|32||Delhi – Sayler Park||Sunday–Saturday||Queensgate|
|32||Covedale – Price Hill via Matson||Monday–Friday||Queensgate|
|33||Western Hills – Glenway||24/7/365 Service||Queensgate|
|37||Western Hills – 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|
|41||Glenway Crossing – Mt. Airy – Oakley Crosstown||Sunday–Saturday||Queensgate|
|42X||West Chester Job Connection||Monday–Friday AM/PM Rush||Bond Hill|
|42X||West Chester Express||Monday–Friday AM/PM Rush||Bond Hill|
|43||Reading – Lockland||Sunday–Saturday||Bond Hill|
|43||Bond Hill||24/7/365 Service||Bond Hill|
|43||Evendale – Woodlawn||Monday–Friday||Bond Hill|
|46||Zoo – Winton Terrace||Sunday–Saturday||Bond Hill|
|49||Fairmount – English Woods||Sunday–Saturday||Queensgate|
|50||Sayler Park – Addyston||Monday–Friday AM/PM Rush||Queensgate|
|51||Glenway Crossing – Uptown – Hyde Park Crosstown||24/7/365 Service||Bond Hill|
|52X||Harrison Express||Monday–Friday AM/PM Rush||Queensgate|
|64||Glenway Crossing – Westwood||Sunday–Saturday||Queensgate|
|65||Western Hills – Northside Crosstown||Monday–Friday AM/PM Rush||Queensgate|
|67||Sharonville Job Connection||Monday–Friday Rush Hour (1 AM trip & 1 PM trip)||Bond Hill|
|71X||Kings Island Job Connection||Monday–Friday AM/PM Rush||Queensgate|
|71X||Kings Island Express||Monday–Friday AM Rush||Queensgate|
|71X||Kings Island – Fields Ertel Express||Monday–Friday AM/PM Rush||Queensgate|
|74X||Colerain Express via Joseph||Monday–Friday AM/PM Rush||Queensgate|
|74X||Colerain Express via Banning||Monday–Friday AM/PM Rush||Queensgate|
|75X||Anderson Express||Monday–Friday AM/PM Rush||Bond Hill|
|77||Delhi||Monday–Friday AM/PM Rush||Queensgate|
|78||Springdale – Vine||Sunday–Saturday||Bond Hill|
|78||Lincoln Heights||24/7/365 Service||Bond Hill|
|81||Mount Washington||Monday–Friday AM/PM Rush||Queensgate|
|82X||Eastgate Express||Monday–Friday AM/PM Rush||Queensgate|
|85||Riverfront Parking Shuttle||Monday–Friday||Queensgate|
|90||Metro*Plus – Kenwood||Monday–Friday||Queensgate|
|Number||Route name||Service days||Garage|
|4||Kenwood via Walnut Hills High School||Monday – Friday AM/PM Rush (Fall, Winter, Spring)||Bond Hill|
|4||Amberley||Monday – Friday AM/PM Rush (Fall, Winter, Spring)||Bond Hill|
|4||Norwood via Walnut Hills High School||Monday – Friday AM/PM Rush (Fall, Winter, Spring)||Bond Hill|
|4||Ridge Road via Walnut Hills High School||Monday – Friday AM/PM Rush (Fall, Winter, Spring)||Bond Hill|
|11||Madison Road – Oakley via Duck Creek||Monday – Friday AM/PM Rush (Fall, Winter, Spring)||Bond Hill|
|24||Zoo – Mt. Lookout – Anderson||Monday – Friday AM/PM Rush (Fall, Winter, Spring)||Bond Hill|
|31||West End – Evanston Crosstown via Walnut Hills HS||Monday – Friday AM/PM Rush (Fall, Winter, Spring)||Queensgate|
|41||Glenway Crossing – Mt. Airy – Oakley Crosstown via Belmont||Monday – Friday (Fall, Winter, Spring)||Queensgate|
|72X||Kings Island Direct||Sunday – Saturday (Summer and early Fall)||Queensgate|
Stops and stationsEdit
Most of SORTA's roughly 5,000 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 the Riverfront Transit Center though it's only used for a layover point for the Metro*Plus route and a stop for route 85.
On April 4, 2021, Metro introduced a simpler fare structure. With this new fare model, base fare increased 25 cents to $2 per ride on all local routes & school Xtras. 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 5 ride for free with a fare-paying rider; a limit of 2 children applies.
|Fare type||Price||Half fare||Routes|
|Hamilton County Local||$2||$1||1, 4, 6, 11, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 24, 27, 28, 31, 32, 33, 37, 41, 43, 46, 49, 50, 51, 64, 65, 78, 90 (M+).|
|Hamilton County Commuter||2, 12, 15, 25, 30, 38, 40, 77, 81|
|Hamilton County Express||$2.65||$1.30||3X, 23X, 29X, 52X, 72X, 74X, 75X|
|Suburban County Express (Butler, Clermont, Warren)||$3.75||$1.85||42X, 71X, 82X|
|Riverfront Parking Shuttle||$0.50||$0.25||85|
|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 fleetEdit
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.
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 service at Queensgate
|2008||New Flyer||D40LF||8001–8024||First order ever of New Flyer buses. 8006, 8018 & 8019 still active. All others retired.|
|2009||New Flyer||D40LF||9007–9031, 9038–9067||9045–9067 still active. All others currently in contingency fleet.|
|2010||New Flyer||DE30LFR||1001–1004||Only transit agency to order these. Typically used on routes 1, 28 and 50 Monday-Friday. 1002 retired.|
|2011||New Flyer||DE40LFR||1108–1114||1113 is painted in colors that 1301-1310 has, as this was used on route 90 exclusively until 11/26/21.|
|2013||Gillig||BRT Plus||1301–1310||Originally used exclusively on route 90. As of 11/26/21, the METRO*PLUS logos have been removed and now these are used on any route. 1308 retired due to severe front end collision.|
|2015||Gillig||Low Floor||1526–1537||Equipped with Wi-Fi. 1533–1537 uses an Allison transmission.|
|2016||Gillig||Commuter||1608–1622||Used on express routes. Sometimes used on regular service on an as needed basis. Equipped with reclining seats, power outlets and Wi-Fi.|
|2018||Gillig||Low Floor||1801–1819||1801 retrofitted with factory installed driver's barrier. 1810 out of service.|
|2020–21||Gillig||Low Floor||2012–2016, 2018–2021||2017 does not exist. 2009 was renumbered to 2020 and 2017 was renumbered to 2021.|
|2020–21||Gillig||Low Floor||2022–2026||In service in December 2020.|
|2021||Gillig||Low Floor||2155–2170||All in service as of 12/7/2021. These have Allison transmissions and upgraded exterior cameras.|
Current buses in service at Bond Hill
|2009||New Flyer||D40LF||9000–9006||9000 active. All others in contingency fleet.|
|2011||New Flyer||DE40LFR||1101–1107||Only hybrids in Bond Hill's fleet.|
|2012||Gillig||Low Floor||1202–1225||1220 out of service due to collision with garbage truck|
|2016||Gillig||Commuter||1601–1607||Used on express routes. Sometimes used on regular service on an as needed basis. Equipped with reclining seats, Wi-Fi and power outlets.|
|2018–19||Gillig||Low Floor||1820–1830||1830 retrofitted with factory installed driver's barrier. 1820–1823 are 2018 models. 1824–1830 are 2019 models.|
|2020||Gillig||Low Floor||2001–2008, 2010–2011||2009 does not exist. The bus originally delivered as 2009 was renumbered as 2020.|
|2020–21||Gillig||Low Floor||2027–2031||In service in December 2020.|
|2021||Gillig||Low Floor||2140–2154||In service as of 11/7/2021. These have Allison transmissions and upgraded exterior cameras.|
Future bus orders
Adjacent public transit agencies:
- Butler County Regional Transit Authority (BCRTA), serving Butler County, Ohio
- Clermont Transportation Connection (CTC), serving Clermont County, Ohio
- Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky (TANK), serving Northern Kentucky
- Warren County Transit, serving Warren County, Ohio
Other major public transit agencies in Ohio:
- "SORTA's current GTFS feed data". Go-Metro.com. SORTA. Retrieved 24 December 2014.
- "Transit Ridership Report Second Quarter 2022" (PDF). American Public Transportation Association. August 29, 2022. Retrieved September 28, 2022.
- "Transit Ridership Report Fourth Quarter 2021" (PDF). American Public Transportation Association. March 10, 2022. Retrieved June 7, 2022.
- "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.
- Coolidge, Sharon (October 6, 2016). "Full speed ahead: Streetcar operator will run more streetcars". The Cincinnati Enquirer. Gannett Company. Retrieved October 7, 2016.
- "Issue 7: Transit levy passes, increasing sales tax in Hamilton County". 14 May 2020.
- "Developer Data". Go-Metro.com. Retrieved 13 January 2015.
- "Fall Service Changes" (PDF). SORTA.
- "Fare Simplification – Go Metro". www.go-metro.com. Retrieved 2021-02-23.
- "National Transit Database". National Transit Database. Federal Transit Administration. Archived from the original on 7 February 2015. Retrieved 16 January 2015.
- Go Metro, SORTA official website