metro | cincinnati

A Vision for Public Transit in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky Region

The Greater Cincinnati area is one of the nation’s largest urban areas that lacks any form of rail-based mass transit. A coalition of local governments has identified particular corridors for future rail lines, but further action at the regional level remains stalled. The purpose of this project is to build upon the recommendations of the regional transportation plan and develop a more detailed vision for future transit development. The design portion of the project includes three main components: overall route planning and station locations, prototypical station designs for the most common station types, and a schematic design of the main downtown transit hub.

In 2010, the Metro Cincinnati project was the recipient of a Student Excellence Award from DePaul University. Originally begun as a purely academic project, Metro Cincinnati evolved into an educational and advocacy platform for improved public transit in the region.

DePaul University Student Excellence Award, 2010

Route Planning and Station Locations

The Metro Cincinnati transit plan envisions a two-tiered system of rail transit: a heavy-rail rapid transit system comparable in nature to the Washington Metro subway system, and a network of surface-running streetcar lines such as that currently being proposed to link the downtown and Uptown neighborhoods. The former provides fast travel times over longer distances on a fully grade-separated right-of-way, while the latter serves as circulator within neighborhoods and as a feeder to rapid transit lines.

Google Earth was used to map business districts, attractions, existing transit corridors, proposed transit lines, and station locations. A diagram map was then designed that presents the rapid transit routes in a clear format showing lines at 45-degree angles, equally-spaced station icons, and station locations in relation to major highways and waterways.

With the exception of the Silver Line (an express shuttle between Union Terminal and the airport) each line provides direct access to the downtown business district and at least one transfer point to every other line. It is therefore possible to travel from one station to any other station with a maximum of one transfer.

Typical Station Typologies

This component of the Metro Cincinnati project focuses on the most common station types found throughout the system, particularly deep-bore subway stations and stations on elevated viaducts. Each station serves as a point of convergence and divergence; incoming passengers arrive via car, bus, streetcar, bicycle, or walking, and depart on rapid transit trains. For outgoing passengers, the circulation is reversed. Given their purposes as hubs of transportation activity, transit stations also serve as anchors for commercial and residential development.

The goal the station’s architectural design is to accommodate the transition between varying modes of transportation, foster sustainable development patterns, and serve as a public gateway to its neighborhood. For stations on the Metro Cincinnati system, the idea of the bundled tube — a common motif in downtown Cincinnati and on many subway system maps — is incorporated as a recurring element in the stations’ designs.

The Corryville and Highland Heights stations were chosen to be a prototype of a deep-bore subway station and an elevated station, respectively. Corryville station is located in an urban neighborhood adjacent to the University of Cincinnati’s main campus, and being located approximately 120 feet below street level, would be among the deepest stations in the Metro system. The Highland Heights station is located in the midst of a busy four-lane highway in a postwar suburban setting, providing opportunities for future transit-oriented development that are currently lacking in the area.

Fountain Square Transit Hub

Fountain Square is the physical and symbolic heart of the Greater Cincinnati region, consisting of a large public plaza that is home to the historic Tyler Davidson Fountain — often used as an icon of the city — and a venue for outdoor concerts, protests, celebrations, and other public gatherings. One block east of Fountain Square is Government Square, which serves as a transit mall for the city’s bus system.

Below the Fountain Square plaza is a four-story public parking garage. The Metro Cincinnati project proposes using the shell of this underground structure as a major transit hub, serving as a transfer point between the Red Line and Green Line running under Fifth Street and the Orange Line and Gold Line running under Vine Street, as well as a public gateway to downtown Cincinnati for Metro riders. With the exception of entry pavilions provioding access to the underground station, the entire station is below-grade and has minimal impact on the plaza itself.

Advanced Project, 2009 – 2012
DePaul University School for New Learning
Academic Advisor: Mechthild Hart
Professional Advisor: Jonathan Liffgens

Project Website