June 28, 2016

Intermittent clouds

County wins Brunswick transit contract

On Monday, Brunswick City Council authorized the city to enter into a two-year contract with Medina County Public Transit to operate the Brunswick Transit Alternative bus system.

The county and current BTA operator, Buckeye Transit, earlier this year placed bids to operate the bus system. Brunswick Service Director Sam Scaffide said in October the MCPT was the low bidder “by far.”

A memo from Scaffide to City Council shows the county agency will charge $20.37 per hour to operate the system, while Buckeye’s bid was $29.50 per hour.

Buckeye’s contract ends Dec. 31, and the county will begin operating BTA on Jan 2.

Buckeye has managed BTA since it was formed in 1988. Its owner, Rose Kepke, said Tuesday that the eight-employee company would be folding.

Scaffide said in previous years when the city bid the operation of the transit system, Buckeye was always less expensive than county and private taxi services. He said the county was “more aggressive” in the bidding process this time around.

“What the county bid this year is less than what we paid Buckeye last year. It was an awesome proposal that we couldn’t pass up,” Scaffide said Wednesday.

He also said the MCPT will have more resources to offer the city than Buckeye, whose only contract was with the city. For example, the county has a dispatch office for the buses and drivers, while Buckeye does not.

Mike Salamone, director of the MCPT, said little will change about the operation of the system, other than some of its drivers. He said he hired a seven new employees to ensure he has enough staff to operate current transit services and the BTA.

Salamone said four of the new drivers were former employees of Buckeye and the only ones from the company to file applications with the MCPT.

Scaffide said there “should be a smooth transition. I don’t foresee any problems.”

The BTA is funded 65 percent by federal transit funds and 35 percent by the city.

City Finance Director Bill White said earlier this year the city footed $114,000 of the BTA bill in 2008, and federal funds covered $257,000.

The system operates two hourly routes — one in northern Brunswick and one in the south.

Salamone said his department may revise the routes slightly to ensure they run efficiently and on time.

Contact Maria Kacik at (330) 721-4049 or mkacik@ohio.net.