Column: Big changes coming to public transit

There is a lot more to this story, but I wanted to get on record Saturday about all the changes Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune is proposing be made to public transit in, around and through Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

Truthfully, my column does not tell the half of what is going on (but it’s a good teaser, eh?) and I hope to get more deeply into this in the coming week and weeks. If these changes happen – and some significant ones seem likely and plausible – I think this city and region will be significantly different in future generations.

I’m no city planning expert, but I have lived in bigger cities than Cincinnati and spent vast amounts of time in others (like San Francisco and the Bay Area), and public transit seem to transform a city. In fact, I was lucky enough to live in downtown Sacramento from 2001 to 2003 and witnessed the infancy of their light rail and watch as ridership climbed as downtown Sacramento began to blossom.

Since I moved to Cincinnati additional lines have opened there and it appears that ridership continues to increase.

I was also surprised at the number of light rail detractors I met there, complaining that the train really didn’t go anywhere. That was partly true, but was still handy for me living downtown, especially if I had a large number of packages or luggage.

Author: Joe Wessels

Joe Wessels is a freelance journalist and photographer. Wessels covers local news events for Thomson Reuters news service and features for About.com's Cincinnati Guide site, plus is the executive director of hyperlocal news site, iRhine.com. He wrote for The Cincinnati Post, covering Cincinnati City Hall and Hamilton County government and wrote a weekly political column, which continued weekly at Cincinnati CityBeat. Previously, he was a reporter for the Cincinnati Business Courier and writes or has written for several publications in Cincinnati and around the country including The Cincinnati Enquirer, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Cincinnati Magazine, Cincy Magazine and the Sacramento News & Review. He is a native of Colerain Township, one of Cincinnati's western suburbs, and now lives in Over-the-Rhine near downtown Cincinnati. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and a journalism writing certificate from the University of Cincinnati. He also graduated from Colerain High School, is an avid photographer, news junkie and was once a roller rink disc jockey, and sometimes rides a scooter around town.

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