Cincinnati Metro returns to near pre-pandemic ridership following service improvements, partnerships and promotions

Having provided more than 900,000 trips in the month of August, Metro ridership overall is more than 80% toward achieving pre-pandemic figures, compared to an average monthly ridership of 1.1 million in 2019.

Additionally, several routes have exceeded pre-pandemic levels – with others not far behind – thanks to a number of recent service improvements and promotions geared toward introducing customers to the new and improved service. In May 2021, Metro introduced 24-hour service on seven routes, two new crosstown routes, increased frequency and service-hour span across most routes, in addition to new weekend service and state-of-the-art buses offering free Wi-Fi and charging ports as part of its Reinventing Metro plan.

Building on the success of these improvements, promotions like Metro’s Dump the Pump Summer Weekends and its University partnerships have resulted in huge ridership jumps as customers discover the cost savings, environmental benefits and improved amenities associated with using public transit.

“The success we’ve seen with the Reinventing Metro plan and these recent programs can only be described as historic,” said Metro CEO and General Manager Darryl Haley. “What these ridership numbers tell us is that we are on the right track with building and delivering on the service our community wants. What we’ve seen is that once an individual gives Metro a try, they’ll keep coming back and choose transit over driving more and more to get to their destinations.”

‘Dump the Pump’ Summer Weekends

Each weekend between the Fourth of July and Labor Day holidays, all rides on Metro and Access operated fare-free to promote its new weekend service improvements. As a result, Saturdays and Sundays saw big boosts in the number of riders who got on board to get to work, sporting events, shopping or other entertainment activities throughout the county.

Saturdays saw an average jump in ridership of 22.3% compared to the month of June, while Sunday ridership grew an average of 31.3%. The highest single-day increase was a staggering 44% on Sunday, July 24. Even after the promotion ended, Saturday ridership maintained a 10% boost the following week.

Twelve routes have also seen higher ridership to date in September 2022 than in the first half of September 2019, with three routes (Rts. 16, 20 and 41) exceeding ridership by 60% or more and one route (Rt. 28) doubling ridership. An additional six routes have returned to 90% or more ridership compared to September 2019.

PPR = Pre-pandemic ridership

University Students Ride Fare-Free

Building on Metro’s long-standing partnership with the University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati State to offer students a discounted bus fare, this school year Metro rolled out a four-week fare-free promotion for students who created an account using the Transit app.

As a result of the promotion, enrollment in UC’s Metro discount program grew by 20% in the first few weeks of school, and Cincinnati State’s by 65%.

Due to the initial success of the promotion, Metro has decided to extend the fare-free offer for UC students and staff and Cincinnati State students for another month, through Oct. 24 and Oct. 31 respectively. Any UC students and staff or Cincinnati State students who have not yet enrolled can get more info here: