At a public meeting on July 27, 2021, SORTA announced the elimination of XTRA routes for Cincinnati high school students due to a bus driver shortage. This would include approximately 6,000 Cincinnati Public School 7th-12th graders. XTRA routes have been in place for decades and supplement regular Metro service routes to facilitate the safe and efficient transportation of students to and from school. CPS spends approximately $8 million per year with Metro for the passes that are distributed to Cincinnati students.
CPS is deeply concerned about the negative consequences this proposed change will have on Cincinnati students and families who rely on Metro for transportation to and from school.
Interim Superintendent Tianay Amat said, "CPS does not believe that elimination of XTRA routes is an acceptable resolution to SORTA's bus driver shortage. Elimination of the XTRA routes may resolve an operating challenge for SORTA, but it does so at the expense of Cincinnati's students and families and without due consideration of the true impact on their daily lives."
CPS has specific concerns regarding:
- Safety. One of the most critical benefits of the XTRA routes is the safety these busses provide to students and the peace of mind they provide families. At a time in which our city is not yet through the pandemic, safety further extends to health concerns and risk of increased COVID-19 transmission.
- 7th and 8th graders navigating regular Metro routes. In addition to general safety concerns related to preteens riding regular Metro routes, our numbers indicate that 58% of CPS' approximately two-thousand 7th- and 8th-grade bus riders would be required to make a bus transfer.
- Dismissal. CPS is unclear how Metro will handle dismissal when hundreds of students from any given high school try to "catch" the next available regular bus versus the efficiency of having an XTRA route waiting for them. Furthermore, there are safety concerns with having a concentrated number of students waiting at bus stops for regular routes.
- Overcrowding. CPS is concerned that the addition of approximately 6,000 students to Metro's regular routes will result in busses deluged with students needing to get to and from school at the same time.
- Transfers. While CPS understands that some students will have fewer transfers, the reality is that thousands of students who otherwise would have had direct transportation will now have to transfer each morning and afternoon.
We believe it is in the best interest of all involved to find a resolution that prioritizes Cincinnati's children and maintains our students' XTRA routes for the 2021-22 school year.