Can upgraded buses attract riders on Butler, Warren express routes?

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Metro has upgraded commuter buses for West Chester and Kings Island/Mason express routes

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

In hopes of reversing declining ridership on its express routes from West Chester Twp. and Mason into Cincinnati, Metro has unveiled new buses featuring upgrades like reclining seats and charging ports for electronics.

Metro’s 22 new commuter-style buses went into service on Monday for its four express routes from Park & Ride locations throughout greater Cincinnati. These include Route 42X West Chester Express that can be boarded at the Meijer Park & Ride at 7390 Tylersville Road and at Beckett at Union Centre.

“The new buses are designed for routes with the longest distances into downtown that take an hour or so to commute,” Brandy Jones, Metro external affairs manager, told the Journal-News. “We’re hoping with more amenities on these routes that we can attract new riders and retain current riders.”

During the past few years, ridership on the express routes has decreased, according to Metro’s statistics provided by Jones.

  • The Route 42X West Chester Express saw a decrease in ridership from 140,210 in 2011 to 110,333 in 2015.

  • The Route 71X Kings Island Express saw decreased ridership from 105,353 in 2011 to 80,667 in 2015.
  • The Route 52X Harrison Express saw decreased ridership from 56,133 in 2011 to 41,367 in 2015.
  • The Route 82X Eastgate Express saw decreased ridership from 53,440 in 2011 to 33,626 in 2015.

The new express buses feature high-back reclining seats, charging ports and outlets for laptops and phones, overhead luggage racks for briefcases, and expansive windows, according to Metro.

“When we polled our customers earlier this year, more comfortable seating and charging stations were at the top of their list and we’re happy to be able to provide them with the type of amenities that make using public transit both convenient and comfortable,” said Metro CEO Dwight A. Ferrell.

The fare for the Express routes will remain at $3.50 per trip. The new buses will also be operated on Route 71X Kings Island Express that also serves Mason and Deerfield Twp.; the Route 52X Harrison Express; and the Route 82X Eastgate Express.

Each bus costs $475,128 and were purchased with both federal and local funds. The 22 new buses will replace existing buses in Metro’s fleet that are past their 12-year and 500,000 miles of service minimum life expectancy.

Jones said Metro has also rolled out the new Cincy EZ Ride app to enable riders to check schedules, have real time tracking of buses, and pay their fares.

“We want to make the service easier and convenient to use and hope through the new amenities and technologies to attract more riders,” she said.

Jones said Metro provided about 16 million rides in 2015 and has a goal of reaching 20 million riders by 2021.

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