June 29, 2016

Mostly cloudy

Money requested to save bus routes

MEDINA — Medina County Public Transit Director Michael Salamone asked the county commissioners Monday to fill a $300,000 funding gap for next year.

The county’s public transport system has obtained grants to bring its 2014 operating revenue up to $1.8 million. But that’s not enough to cover an estimated $2.1 million in expenses, Salamone said.

The shortfall stems from the reclassification of Medina County as an Urban Transit System in 2014 by the Ohio Department of Transportation. Urban systems get more federal funding for equipment and facilities but far less to subsidize daily operations.

The shortfall means cutting on-demand routes that serve the county’s rural and developmentally disabled residents: The number of operating routes were reduced from 23 to 15 because most of the routes was for on-demand service that the new classification will not fund.

“The cities of Medina and Wadsworth will be getting better service through the fixed routes, but the ones hurting will be Lodi and Spencer,” Salamone said.
ODOT officials have said they were required to reclassify the county after the 2010 Census showed a population increase in Medina County.

County Administrator Chris Jakab said ODOT will only provide about $135,000 next year compared to the roughly $1 million it would have provided if Medina County remained a rural transit area.

Earlier this year, county officials feared the shortfall would be greater — $1 million. But more than two-thirds of the projected deficit was eliminated by grants from the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, two federal grants for urbanized areas that are normally awarded to Cleveland and Akron and a contract with the city of Brunswick to establish a fixed route with the city of Medina.

A plan devised by Salamone and Jakab will maintain two fixed routes in Wadsworth — including an Americans with Disabilities Act complimentary route that runs a ¾-mile loop — four fixed routes in Medina including two ADA routes running a 1-mile loop, in addition to the fixed route from Medina to Brunswick.

All seven routes will operate Monday through Saturday and maintain similar hours. That will leave eight on-demand routes to serve the rural communities.

Salamone said some residents who used on-demand busing will be served by new fixed routes that provide more consistent and convenient service.

Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or dpompili@medina-gazette.com.