Bus rides from Butler County to Cincinnati are free right now

CincyLink has launched and will eventually be a cashless service.

Local residents looking for an inexpensive way to travel to downtown Cincinnati now have another option, and it’s free for at least the next several weeks.

CincyLink, funded by the city of Middletown and operated by Butler County Regional Transit Authority, was launched in early January and offers numerous round trips that start at its headquarters in Hamilton with stops in Middletown, West Chester Twp., UpTown Cincinnati, Government Square with a final destination at the Riverfront Transit Center in Cincinnati.

She said the park and ride location at the Middletown Meijer has seen “quite a bit of activity.”

The bus service is funded by Middletown’s Federal Transit Administration dollars, said Shawn Cowan, director of customer care and public engagement for the BCRTA.

She made a presentation at last week’s Middletown City Council meeting. She said CincyLink eventually will become cashless, but until the technology has been installed, rides are free probably through the end of March.

Riders will be given a two-week notice before they will be charged fares, she told the Journal-News after the meeting.

Eventually, fares will be $5 each way and a monthly pass will be $120, she said.

“That’s a bargain,” she said, noting the cost of gasoline, parking and wear and tear on vehicles. She talked to one gentleman who said he pays $16 a day to park in downtown Cincinnati.

The commuter service features four peak morning round trips that start at 5:20 a.m. at the BCTA headquarters and four peak afternoon round trips that leave Government Square at 5:19 p.m. Monday through Friday, she said.

The routes and times will be periodically evaluated after more data is collected, she said.

City Manager Paul Lolli has asked if it was possible to add nightly and weekend routes for those interested in attending sporting events in Cincinnati.

Cowan said that’s the “goal” but the timing of adding routes depends of funding and hiring more bus drivers

The buses don’t run on major holidays, including New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Day after Thanksgiving and Christmas.

CincyLink features

  • All forward-facing, high back seats
  • Available three-point seatbelts
  • USB-A and USB-C charging
  • Additional overhead baggage space
  • Free onboard Wi-Fi
  • Cashless onboard payment with EZfare

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