Please don’t misunderstand me. I am grateful for the mobility the local bus system, Metro, provides for many citizens of Cincinnati. For many elderly who no longer drive, or for those who can’t afford a car, or those who are handicapped, there is often no realistic alternative. And I love that the busses “kneel,” or lower the front, to make it easier to get from the sidewalk to the first step. Because the elderly and handicapped are so often unable to afford alternative transportation, Metro offers a “Fare Deal” card for them that cuts the bus fare in half. Just show the card – which has your photo on it — to the driver when you get on. One can also purchase a monthly sticker for $38.50 for the card which enables you to ride Metro everywhere without any additional charges for that month. All good. I just wish that Metro would make it a little easier to get the card in the first place.
The only Metro office that issues the card is in the north-east part of the Cincinnati area, in Silverton. Metro says that is served by the No. 4 bus and Metro*Plus lines, but their website is confusing on whether it is really served by Metro*Plus (www.go-metro.com. The reason it is confusing is because Metro*Plus is not listed as one of the routes that stops at the Park & Ride adjacent to the office, and the Park & Ride is not listed in the schedule for Metro*Plus). I can verify that it is served by the No. 4 bus because I saw one stop there. And yes, the bus stop does state “Metro*Plus” on its side. But I’ve even seen signs at bus stops in the past for routes that had been abandoned. Using Metro can be frustrating at times, which after all is the point of this article.
If you have a lot of time you can get there by bus, but you will probably have to transfer. It can easily take over an hour. It is outside the city limits so it is in zone 2, meaning the regular bus fare is $2.65 instead of $1.75, each way. A transfer costs $0.50. You don’t get the card right away as it is mailed to you, meaning you can’t use it to get a discounted fare to go back. So if you don’t have a Fare Deal card already it will probably cost you $5.80 in bus fare just to get to and from the place where you can get the discount card. Fare Deal cards can only be obtained on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
Public taxis are expensive, unlicensed taxis (“bootlegs”) are less expensive but still much more than a bus, and friends with cars are often busy when you need a ride. Ironically, there are three handicapped parking places in front of the building, all of which were empty when I was there. The building itself sits down in a hollow and there is a long slope down from the bus stop. Accessible, yes, but I don’t know if I would call it easy, especially if you had to use a walker or a wheelchair and the weather were bad. See the accompanying photo for the relationship between the bus stop and the building.
Until two or three years ago, Metro used to make the Fare Deal card available at their downtown office. I called and talked to a couple representatives. Both said that Metro changed this in order to save money. They already owned the Silverton office, which is off a bus line, and the downtown office was too expensive. I stated that I had heard several comments from Metro riders that the Silverton office is far less convenient and I wished Metro could find a way to offer that card downtown again.
One more thing I wish would change – if you let your card expire, you have to produce another government i.d. to show that you are you. But if you don’t let your card expire, the Metro office will accept their card as sufficient proof that you are who you say you are. The reason given for this is that they have had problems with people using the Fare Deal card from someone who is deceased, to the point that they will even alter the photo. That is a problem, but I think their system hurts more than it helps. I was assisting a friend trying to renew her card, but it was expired and her government i.d. (non-driver’s license) was also expired. But she was still clearly the same person, and now needs to make another trip there. All Metro has to do is to compare her to the photo that they have on file. If anyone tried to renew their Fare Deal card but looked 20 years younger and very different, okay, then challenge them. And Metro should do that even if the current card had not expired.
As I said in the beginning, I am grateful for the mobility that Metro offers. I just wish it weren’t so bureaucratic at times.