Bus System Doesn't Merit Fare Increase

Recent comments from the Southwestern Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) vice chairman are self-serving, disengenuous and say nothing (Letters, "I Remain Committed," issue of Dec. 13). Metro is

Recent comments from the Southwestern Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) vice chairman are self-serving, disengenuous and say nothing (Letters, "I Remain Committed," issue of Dec. 13). Metro is one of the worst public transportaion systems I have experienced in the world. Routes, stops and scheduling are irrational. Buses are generally early or late, depending on the driver's mood, it seems.

Too many drivers are surly, impolite and downright rude. They miss stops and refuse to apologize. They pass people by and don't even look back. They stop for relief and don't excuse themselves regardless of how long pasengers must wait.

The newest buses are too small; the seats are not adequate for passengers, and the capacity is absurd for an urban comunity. SORTA wants a 25 percent increase that amounts to a nearly 100 percent increase in less than three years.

SORTA has not improved Metro service in any form or fashion. The stops on Govenment Square are not well organized, and the re-design is, well, a redesign. But why?

In an area with more than 1 million potential riders, it's logical to assume public transportation would be convenient and first-class. Not! Buses are more often dirty than clean. I have seen paper and other detritus on the floor for several days on the same bus!

If SORTA would contract with the Health Alliance for health care, I bet the organization could save a lot of money. The Alliance would have an assured cash flow, and SORTA would have top-notch health care with choices and could retain their preferred physician if they had privileges. Somebody ought to crunch the numbers.

There is no cogent reason city council should ratify a fare increase. It's not merited. Why can't SORTA reduce management salaries? Does SORTA own its facilities or rent? When is the last time SORTA conducted a cost-benefit analysis of its assets, services and resources?

I opine that SORTA doesn't handle its business well at all. Therefore, why should they be rewarded with additional revenue when they apparently don't do well with current revenue?

I ride the bus often, and late and early buses negatively affect my day. I miss one, and the other delays my arrival. Weird routing also affects my ability to travel from point A to point B. Too many surly and impolite drivers affect my attitude. I bet potential and actual riders have a thousand rational suggestions to improve service; I know I have a few. Yet when is the last time SORTA conducted an in-depth assessment, with follow-up and follow-through? Surveys, interviews, focus groups and the ilk is what I mean.

SORTA does not merit an increase. If council approves, shame on them.

— Herb Smith, Walnut Hills

Fund Ohio Afterschool Programs
What do voters want, and what message did they send in the recent elections? Public officials at all levels will spend the next few years trying to answer that question, but one thing is clear: They want more attention to the day-to-day challenges facing their families and communities.

A poll conducted for the Afterschool Alliance on election eve and election night found that 72 percent of voters want the new Congress to increase afterschool funding and 73 percent want their newly elected state and local officials to do so. Voters support afterschool programs because they know these programs keep children safe, inspire them to learn and help working families.

The unmet need here in Ohio is significant; the state's Afterschool programs are serving a high-need population as evidenced by a recent Web-based survey of 55 Ohio afterschool providers. At 51 percent of programs surveyed, more than three in five students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, 28 percent of K-12 youth are responsible for taking care of themselves and 66 percent of afterschool programs operated at or above maximum capacity during the 2005-06 school year.

We can and must do better. High-quality afterschool programs provide safe, challenging and fun learning experiences that help children and youth develop their social, emotional, physical, cultural and academic skills. Investing in afterschool programs is investing in our future.

— Jorge Perez Associate Vice President, YMCA of Greater Cincinnati

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