TARTA cleared to take over UT's campus bus routes

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    Students get off the Gold Loop bus near the Student Union at the University of Toledo on Monday, April 16, 2018.

    The Blade/Kurt Steiss
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  • Starting this summer, University of Toledo students and faculty will be able to “swipe and go” almost anywhere in the region on a Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority bus free of charge.

    On Monday, UT trustees unanimously passed a resolution authorizing TARTA to take over management of shuttle service at the university.

    Under this new agreement, UT students, staff, and faculty can ride TARTA free of charge with their university identification card.

    UT agreed to pay TARTA approximately $1 million per year to manage its transit system, the equivalent of the cost the university has been spending to operate its own bus services, said Lawrence Kelley, UT’s executive vice president for finance administration.

    TARTA will continue the same on-campus routes already offered by UT, in addition to giving students and faculty free access to all TARTA bus routes.

    Student leaders expressed a desire to have bus access to more locations throughout northwest Ohio, beyond the limited routes UT’s bus service offered, Mr. Kelley said.This agreement will now give students that access.

    “We wanted to make sure students have more mobility and access to the community, and not feel like they’re stuck on an island on campus,” UT’s student body president Jimmy Russell said. “It’s immensely beneficial for not only the students here at the University of Toledo but also the community at large.

    “I think the more students we get going into the community and downtown, the better we can make this great city.”

    The $1 million cost to UT is fixed for the first three years of the 10-year contract. After that the amount can go up based on inflation, university officials said. 

    The agreement is supposed to save the university money because its existing bus fleet is aging and in need of expensive repairs. Nine of UT’s current 16 buses need extensive repairs, with total replacement costs hovering around $2 million, Mr. Kelley said. 

    UT currently employs approximately 50 student drivers, and TARTA is expected to keep student drivers to operate the campus routes, Mr. Kelley said.

    In other news, the university agreed to a new contract with the UT chapter of the American Association of University Professors, the union representing UT’s faculty members.

    The new contract is in effect from this July 1 through June 30, 2022. The current contract was set to expire June 30.

    The agreement includes pay raises for union members. In the first year of the new contract, faculty members with a salary higher than $100,000 will receive a 1 percent wage increase, those making between $75,000 and $100,000 will receive a 1.5 percent raise, and those earning less than $75,000 will receive a 3 percent wage increase.

    In the second year, faculty making less than $75,000 will receive a 2 percent raise and all others will get a 1.5 percent wage increase. All union members will receive a 2 percent wage increase during the last two years of the contract.

    Contact Javonte Anderson at janderson@theblade.com419-724-6065, or on Twitter @JavonteA.