Imagine this… “new transit hubs in 30 area neighborhoods, from the inner city to West Chester, providing improved bus service throughout the region. New light rail lines serving at least 50 area neighborhoods, spurring new development near stations and making the region less dependent on cars. Imagine a transit system like the one in Portland, Ore., that reconnects and reinvigorates a city.”
Yes! We’re in. Sign us up. Are these the bold prognostications of some futuristic transit wizard-planner for what our region will look like in 20 years? No, sadly. They’re our 2002 endorsement for a half-cent county tax hike to fund Metro Moves, a regionally focused light rail and bus transit plan. Unfortunately, that issue was epically defeated as 68 percent of county voters said, “nah, no thanks” to the plan, which included a 60-mile, five-line light rail system throughout the county that would have cost $2.6 billion. It was a radical proposal, to be sure, but one that would have greatly kick-started the area’s growth.
The city has made some inching progress on transit in the 12 years since, sprucing up some bus stops and finally embarking on a still-underway streetcar two years ago. But the scope of the current project — basically downtown and Over-the-Rhine — is woefully small compared to 2002’s bold idea.
“At some point in the future, the plan will become reality, and it’s just a matter of when,” said then-Metro Chief Executive Officer Paul Jablonski after the ballot measure failed in 2002. “The time is obviously not today, though.”
So, uh, is it tomorrow yet?