Best Of 2020

Best Chance to Improve the Region’s Bus Service: Issue 7

For years, Greater Cincinnati has suffered due to a bus system it has outgrown and crumbling roads and bridges. But there is a possibility to help remedy both of those issues: a ballot initiative called Issue 7 that would raise the county’s sales tax by .8 percent to increase bus frequency, add new routes and make some popular routes run 24 hours a day. Three-quarters of the estimated $130 million a year the 25-year levy would raise would go to bus service, while another quarter would go to infrastructure improvements throughout the region that benefit public transit in some way. According to the ballot language, none of the money could be used for Cincinnati’s streetcar. Should voters approve the levy, the .3 portion of the city’s earnings tax that pays for buses would be eliminated, per a citywide ballot issue that voters gave the OK by a wide margin. That would mean those who work in Cincinnati would pay $50 million less in taxes. The bus system badly needs more funding. It faced a $5.8 million budget deficit last year and needs many millions of dollars in investment to become better-functioning and connect more Greater Cincinnati residents to jobs and studies local officials say. The levy has drawn bipartisan support from progressive groups, noted conservatives and Cincinnati’s business community. If it passes, it could mark a new age for public transit in Greater Cincinnati.