Thursday, Oct 18, 2018
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TARTA could cut Sunday, holiday bus service

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    TARTA buses wait at the Jackson Street bus stop in September.

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  • CTY-TARTA10p-10

    A TARTA passenger pays the fare to ride the bus from the Jackson Street bus stop.

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The Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority is proposing elimination of all Sunday and holiday bus service as part of a larger plan to save money.

TARTA is also looking at reducing hours on other days as the biggest part of a package of Dec. 30 service cuts that its top executive said would offset rising costs and the pending loss of $3.2 million in federal funds.

Because TARTA’s fleet now exceeds 100 buses, it no longer qualifies to “flex” its federal capital funding for operating expenses, general manager James Gee said Monday. That “flex” funding accounts for about 10 percent of the agency’s operating budget, he said.

In addition, Mr. Gee said, the transit authority faces rising health-care costs while revenue from its primary local source, its two property levies, has been flat in recent years. Overall, he said, the agency is looking to cut its spending by about 14 percent.

The proposed cuts — which also would include reduction of shuttle service to Toledo Mud Hens and Toledo Walleye games; elimination of a route in northwest Toledo and Sylvania, and changes to several other routes — will be the subject of two hearings Thursday at the transit authority’s administrative offices at 1127 W. Central Ave.

The first hearing is scheduled to start at 12:30 p.m., the second at 6 p.m.

The service cuts as proposed would save TARTA about $2 million, Mr. Gee said. The transit authority also will consider a fare increase and internal cost-cutting to make up the rest of the budget shortfall, he said.

TARTA officials earlier this year proposed switching the transit authority’s local subsidy from property taxes, which are collected in seven member jurisdictions and generate $13 million, to a 0.4 percent sales tax collected throughout Lucas County and in Rossford, the authority’s only current member in Wood County. The sales tax was expected to yield $25 million, of which about $5 million was to be rebated to member communities for “transit-related” public works.

But as had happened twice before, the agency failed to gain passage of resolutions from all of the current members to admit Lucas County as a member jurisdiction. Citing dissatisfaction with TARTA management and skepticism among their constituents, a 2-1 majority of the Sylvania Township trustees rejected the proposal for a third time in late July.

TARTA officials made no mention during their campaign of the possibility that the federal funds might no longer be available for operating costs, thus forcing service cuts much deeper than several previous rounds that transit officials also have blamed on shrinking revenue and rising costs.

“We did not know for sure” that the federal grant would change, Mr. Gee said Monday.

Besides the loss of Sunday and holiday service — which also would affect riders of the authority’s Toledo Area Regional Paratransit Service — the proposed cuts include eliminating the 6 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. “lineup” trips on weekdays and the 7:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. “lineup” trips on Saturdays.

The No. 6 King Road/Sylvania route would be eliminated and service on the No. 29X Waterville Express and No. 39 Franklin Park/Sylvania express routes would be reduced. The No. 43 Maumee/Arrowhead commuter route is proposed to be changed to an “experimental” Arrowhead Park express that would also serve Maumee Assembly & Stamping.

The sports shuttles, meanwhile, are proposed to be eliminated for games on Mondays through Thursdays. For the Walleye, Mr. Gee said, the current season would not be affected.

Contact David Patch at dpatch@theblade.com or 419-724-6094.

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