Tuesday, June 27, 2000

Harrison seeks bus solutions

Grant expires in August

By Lew Moores
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HARRISON — The mayor of Harrison will meet with Metro bus officials, and representatives from Indiana and other western Hamilton County communities to talk about keeping Metro service running to the city after the service is due to expire.

        Mayor Dan Gieringer said he will meet with, among others, representatives from Harrison and Whitewater townships, in the first week of July.

        Metro's park and ride service to the city began two years ago to ease traffic congestion and parking problems caused by the work on Fort Washington Way in downtown Cincinnati.

        Metro had a grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation for about $1.5 million to offer park and ride service to Harrison, Fairfield, West Chester and Clermont County.

        But that grant is scheduled to expire on Aug. 31 as the Fort Washington Way work is completed. Those communities wanting the service to continue must find a way to subsidize it,said Paul Jablonski, Metro general manager.

        The service to Harrison will cost about $86,000 a year. But only 29 percent of the ridership lives in Harrison.

        About 46 percent of the riders live in Indiana, while the rest live elsewhere in Ohio.

        Mayor Gieringer said he is in favor of keeping the service, but doesn't believe the city should foot the entire bill.

        “I would very much like to keep it going,” he said. “The only trouble is I don't think it's fair for the city to pay 100 percent when we have only 29 percent ridership. I'm all for paying our fair share.”

        Metro has seven buses serving Harrison at two park and rides — one at the Kroger parking lot on Harrison Avenue and the other at the Plantation on Dry Fork Road.

        About 200 riders a day use the service.

        Mayor Gieringer said he expects to bring up possible solutions at the meeting, including raising the Metro fare, getting other communities to help fund the service and/or possibly reducing the number of buses serving the route.

        “I am going to recommend to (Harrison) council that they try their darndest to keep the Metro service here,” Mayor Gieringer said. “I think it's a good thing for this community.”

        Councilwoman Deborah Acra wants to know whether other communities are willing to help subsidize the service.

        “It's a fairness issue,” said Ms. Acra. “We're being very cautious and we're going to wait and see. Is there some participation from other sources on this?”

        Mr. Jablonski said service to all four areas has been “extremely successful.”

        Both Fairfield and Union Township, where the West Chester park and ride is located, have agreed to help subsidize to continue the service in those areas after the grant expires.

        “I received a call from Union Township in Clermont County,” said Mr. Jablonski. “They have been sounding very favorable about getting the subsidy to keep it going there also. We are now in discussions with them.”


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