By Vincent D. Scebbi
MEDINA — As gas prices rose this year to almost $4 a gallon, more county residents apparently opted to use public transportation.
Michael Salamone, director of Medina County Public Transit, told county commissioners Monday the number of people using the transit system from Jan. 1 to May 31 was 41,356, about 450 more than at the point last year.
The number of people riding buses traveling the transit’s Medina loop as of May 31 was at 8,735, an increase of almost 1,000 riders over last year.
The Brunswick Transit Alternative, operated by MCPT, also saw an increase of almost 3,000 riders compared to last year. The total from the beginning of this year through May 31 was 15,174.
Salamone attributed the hike in public transportation users to an increase in gas prices, and even though gas prices are on a downswing, he said he hopes people find public transportation convenient.
“I am hoping more people realize these services are out there,” he said. “A lot of people didn’t know the services were there. Even though gas prices are going down, people still use public transportation.”
The average price of regular unleaded gas in Medina was $3.29 on Monday, according to OhioGasPrices.com.
Salamone said Brunswick residents are using BTA because it’s dependable.
“People know the bus will be there and they can count on it,” he said.
Salamone said about 20 percent of users are elderly and almost a quarter of them are disabled. About half are considered “general public.”
The Medina loop runs 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Buses travel from the Reserve Commons, along East Washington Street, through Public Square and north on Pearl Road up to Walmart. Fares are $1 per ride and $3 for an all-day pass.
BTA runs 7:20 a.m. to 7:20 p.m. during non-school months and is 25 cents for seniors, disabled riders and 50 cents for the general public.
Last year, MCPT rolled out four 16-passenger buses that were bought with $260,000 in federal stimulus funding.
BTA received about $350,000 in stimulus money, which was used to buy three identical buses.
Contact Vincent D. Scebbi at (330) 721-4050 or firstname.lastname@example.org.