Cincinnati Votes OK Tax Hike to Benefit Transit

Voters in Cincinnati recently approved a tax increase that will benefit Cincinnati Metro, the first such tax increase for public transit in the Queen City since 1972.

Hamilton county voters approved a 0.8 percent sale tax increase 67,698 to 66,718.

Voters had turned down levies to raise sales taxes to improve city bus service in 1971, 1979, 1980 and 2002.

About $100 million of the tax hike will be devoted to the bus system and $30 million a year applied to road and bridge projects.

Cincinnati Metro has said it will create new bus routes, provide longer and more frequent service on existing routes, add more crosstown service, and increase weekend service.

In the long term Metro wants to create Bus Rapid Transit routes in which at least a portion of a road is decided to use by buses.

The levy passage will result in Cincinnati’s 0.3 percent earnings tax that currently supports the bus system being removed so the increased sales tax could end up being a tax cut for some.

Metro board chair Kreg Keesee said the agency, which is part of the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority, won’t start collecting increased revenue until January.

Keesee said it will take a couple of years to implement all of the proposed changes.

Public transportation ridership in Cincinnati has fallen 75 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic with much of that loss attributed to the closing of schools.

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