Butler County Regional Transit Authority (BCRTA) is working with Miami University and other partners to build a transit hub on Chestnut Street.
The proposed station would increase the efficiency of the BCRTA bus fleet and provide a link to regional buses, bike rentals and potentially an Amtrak train, said David Prytherch, an Oxford City Council member, Miami geography professor and previous member of Oxford’s Planning Commission.
This proposal is attempting to remedy some problems identified by BCRTA in 2013 when the company began servicing the Miami campus.
“There’s not good wayfinding for people who need to get around,” said BCRTA executive director Matthew Dutkevicz. “There’s no signage; no bus station. It’s hard to figure out where to get on the bus and where to get off. There is no central location to catch a bike path, bike share, regional bus, and park and rides are spread out.”
Dutkevicz also said BCRTA doesn’t have any facilities in Oxford, so they have to bring vehicles to the main garage in Hamilton for repairs.
Prytherch, who is also an advisor for the Urban/Regional Planning Program, said an improved transit system would help Miami employees get to campus.
“For some time, we’ve recognized that Miami struggles to fill some of its hourly positions,” Prytherch said. “Yet, regionally, we have populations that would be very happy to have access to that kind of employment. But there’s really not the public transit to get them back and forth.”
This project, as the original proposal by BCRTA highlighted, could help increase employment and economic prosperity in the area.
BCRTA applied for several grants to make the station a reality. They received a $2.6 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) in April 2018.
A $4.5 million grant from the Federal Highway Administration will potentially be approved in December of this year, but the money will not be available for use until 2023.
These grants will be used for bus infrastructure and cannot be used to cover the operating expenses of BCRTA.
Miami will also pay $1.6 million for the transit hub.
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Currently, BCRTA is working on a land-use agreement with Miami for the property and hopes to break ground in 2021, Dutkevicz said.
Dutkevicz expressed an interest in sharing the facility not only with regional bus lines, such as Barons, but also with Talawanda School District to prevent repetitive infrastructure. Prytherch said the station could also help Oxford become more carbon-neutral.
“Part of the long-term vision is providing alternatives to single-occupancy vehicles,” he said. “Really, the hope is in the future fewer students will feel the need to have a car in Oxford.”
Miami is also in preliminary talks with Amtrak, which operates the Cardinal Line on the tracks that pass adjacent to the site, and is looking to use the station as a train stop along the Cincinnati-Chicago corridor, Prytherch said.