July 24, 2016

Mostly cloudy

New transit bus fares, routes will be decided by Medina County

MEDINA — The people have spoken, and now it’s time for county commissioners to decide whether they want to change Medina County Transit fare rates and routes.

After a crowded hearing last week, some members in the audience said a proposed flat-rate $4 fare might cost more than they pay now. Others said a proposed route change would require an inconvenient transfer.

Medina County Public Transit Director Mike Salamone guides one of the agency’s buses into a parking space in March 2010. (GAZETTE FILE PHOTO)

“We got a lot of input, and we’re still getting letters,” county Commissioner Stephen Hambley said. “We want to make sure we hear from as many people as possible before we make a decision.”

County Transit Director Mike Salamone told commissioners in June he’d like to break up a bus route that takes 80 minutes to travel from the north end of U.S. Route 42 to the east end of state Route 18.

Salamone proposed dividing the route: one bus would travel on Route 42 and another on Route 18.

That idea didn’t go over well with the public, Salamone said.

“It’s the transfer point that’s going to be the concern,” he said.

If the route is divided into two loops, there would be a transfer stop at the county administration building, 144 N. Broadway St., because it has an overhang and riders can wait inside, Hambley said.

“Right now it’s not bad waiting for a bus,” Hambley said. “But in the winter, you have rain and cold. Those are the things you have to consider.”

When commissioners decide what changes to make to the routes, they could include two additional stops — at the Medina Community Recreation Center, 855 Weymouth Road, and at Hawkins Market, 233 Lafayette Road, Hambley said.

“We hear from people all the time that they want to have access to Hawkins,” he said. “The city of Medina asked to include the rec center.”

In addition to route changes, Salamone proposed a flat-rate fee of $4 for the general public to travel to any stop in the transit system, rather than the $2 boarding fee and additional charge of 10 cents per mile traveled.

But for riders who travel short distances, infrequently or with multiple children older than 6, a flat-rate fee could be a major increase. Now children 6 and younger ride for free.

“At the hearing, a couple people were bringing up that they have several kids, and it will cost them more,” Salamone said.

While more costly for some, the flat-rate would be more convenient for those who need to transfer between buses, Salamone.

The fare system now depends on the distance traveled and that makes it difficult to sell passes ahead of time or sell monthly or weekly passes, he said.

A flat-rate “would mean the clients don’t have to carry the money and when they book their trip, it’ll be a flat fee,” he said. “It’ll make it easier all the way around and less complicated.”

Hambley said commissioners may consider allowing free rides for children 12 and younger who are accompanied by an adult.

“I think most understood we’ve had increases in costs,” Hambley said. “I think they kind of recognize that we’re going to have to reduce our operating deficit or get closer to breaking even.”

Contact Michelle Sprehe at (330) 721-4048 or msprehe@medina-gazette.com.