Forward Motion — Equity & Public Transportation in Cincinnati

By Calla Thomas

In the past, I have relied on public transportation to get to and from work. And I currently rely heavily on public transportation to attend school at Northern Kentucky University. However, I can only ride the bus in extreme circumstances now because the commute time from Norwood to NKU is over an hour. By car, the commute to NKU takes me just 15 minutes.

One issue is that Metro and Tank are part of different regional transit authorities. This causes their schedules to be out of sync and puts many people in a position where they either arrive an hour or two early, or 30 minutes late.

When I used Metro for work, I had to quit my morning shift job as a server because there was no bus that could get me from Lincoln Heights to Downtown by 6:00 AM. Yet again, it only takes 20 minutes by car to get from Lincoln Heights to downtown.

“One of the many reasons I intern for Tamaya is because she wants to create change. She wants to connect people to jobs so they don’t miss opportunities.”

According to University of Cincinnati Economics Center, there are currently 75,000 jobs out of reach to Metro riders. Tamaya plans to put those jobs back into reach by introducing employer-subsidized routes, 24-hour routes for people with second and third shift jobs, and by working with SORTA to pass a sales tax levy to increase funding for Metro.

I support Tamaya because employer-subsidized routes will get people directly to their jobs. Similar to airport shuttles, there are fewer pickup points but they go straight to the destination.

GoMetro provides 7,000 rides per day to Cincinnati Public School and parochial school junior and senior high school students on school days.

Tamaya also wants to explore the idea of direct and subsidized bus routes that connect people with employers that pay a living wage. A living wage is different from a minimum wage, which is what the State of Ohio currently requires an employer to pay any employee; minimum wage in Ohio is $8.10 per hour. A living wage is the amount a person needs to meet their basic human needs, which is estimated around $10 per hour.1

“Tamaya will help commuters meet their needs by creating more opportunities to get around and improving access to jobs that pay higher wages.”

Another barrier that I and many other Cincinnatians experience with commuting to and from places like school and work could be overcame with more routes and better headways.

Tamaya’s support of SORTA and a sales tax levy would increase routes and headways, also known as arrival frequencies. At most, the current proposed sales tax levy would increase the rate by just 1% and which translates to only one cent more per rider. Tamaya wants to do more than that.

Tamaya’s transportation plans are responsive to community needs and seek to create equitable opportunities for everyone.

“Tamaya is not just talking about improving Cincinnati’s transportation system — she has a plan that’s realistic, achievable and innovative.”

Tamaya’s value of “equity over equality” is one of the biggest reasons I support her, especially on transportation. Equity means giving a person what they need to thrive and be successful, while equality simply means treating everyone the same.

Tamaya is placing the needs of the people first with her vision for public transportation, and as a Cincinnatian, that’s why she has my support.

Calla is an intern with Tamaya Dennard’s campaign for Cincinnati City Council. She is a Cincinnati native living in Lincoln Heights, and an undergraduate student at Northern Kentucky University.