Public transport in Cincinnati is limited to buses and a single streetcar line. While trains do pass through Cincinnati, they are only useful for interstate travel. As a result, most people in Cincinnati get around by car.
Cincinnati has an incomplete subway station, but despite several attempts to convert the subway tunnels into a light rail system, the subway remains inactive. Those interested in the scenic route could take a riverboat along the Ohio River through the city.
Public transport in Cincinnati
The bus is the most common way of getting around for those using public transport in Cincinnati, and is the commute of choice for about 20 percent of the city’s workforce. The Greater Cincinnati region is served by two separate bus services, one on either side of the Ohio River. Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) is on the Ohio side, whereas Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky (TANK) services the Kentucky side.
Bus riders can use the Transit app to track buses, pay fares and find integrated transit options like bike-shares and ride-hailing.
There is a single streetcar line in operation in Cincinnati, known as the Cincinnati Bell Connector, which runs in a loop from Downtown to Over-the-Rhine, with five streetcars traversing the 18 stops. The streetcar system is free for all passengers. Future expansions have been proposed, but no concrete plans have been implemented.
Taxis in Cincinnati
Although they may not be as widespread as in other larger US cities, taxis are available in Cincinnati. It’s usually possible to flag one from the street, but it’s recommended instead to phone and book a taxi ahead of time.
Ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft are also available in the city and are often preferred to regular taxis for their convenience.
- See the City of Cincinnati’s website for a list of licenced taxi services
- Uber and Lyft are popular ride-hailing services
Driving in Cincinnati
New arrivals will likely find a car necessary in Cincinnati, as the public transport system is not as well-developed as in many other metropolitan areas. While fuel costs in the US are reasonable, driving a vehicle can become expensive depending on location, distance travelled and how frequently a person drives.
Expats with a driving licence from their home country are typically permitted to drive in the US as long as their driving licence remains valid. It’s also recommended, but not necessary, to obtain an international driver’s permit (IDP) in one’s home country before departure. Even for those who don’t end up using it, the IDP makes renting a car easier and can also act as a secondary form of identification in some cases.
Once an expat becomes a resident of Ohio, they should visit the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles to obtain a local driving licence. The process typically involves providing proof of identity, residency and legal presence, passing a vision test, and sometimes taking a written or practical driving test. It’s advisable to check the specific requirements with the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles to ensure a smooth transition.
- See the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles for more information
Cycling in Cincinnati
Cincinnati offers a mix of urban and scenic cycling routes, catering to both daily commuters and recreational cyclists. The city has been making strides in promoting cycling as a sustainable mode of transport, with dedicated bike lanes and shared pathways becoming more common. The Cincinnati Bike Share programme, known as Red Bike, provides an easy option for those looking to rent bicycles for short trips around the city centre.
Alternatively, Bird and Lime’s electric scooters and bikes are littered throughout the city, presenting a convenient choice for the micro-mobile.
For those seeking more adventurous routes, the surrounding hills and parks offer challenging terrains and breathtaking views. Always remember to wear protective gear, especially helmets, and be aware of traffic rules when cycling in urban areas.
- See Cincinnati’s proposed and existing bike network on the City of Cincinnati’s website
- Go to Red Bike to download the app, see pricing options and more
- Bird and Lime are two electric mobility providers located in Cincinnati
Walking in Cincinnati
Cincinnati is home to acres of parklands and beautiful scenery, making walking around the city a popular activity. Due to the city’s hilly landscape, walking is mainly recreational, although the Steps of Cincinnati (400 sets of stairs throughout the city) are helpful if getting around on foot is a must.
►For recommended neighbourhoods, see Areas and Suburbs in Cincinnati
Photo credits: Streetcar by Flor Nájera; Red Bikes by Jordan Andrews. Sourced from Unsplash.
Are you an expat living in Cincinnati?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Cincinnati. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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