Written by PETER KUEBECK Sentinel Staff Writer
Wednesday, 23 May 2012 10:02
PERRYSBURG - Continuing concerns cropped up as the city put forth a preliminary plan for transit service to replace TARTA Tuesday night.
Perrysburg will put a plan - and the millage to fund it - on the November ballot for voters to device.
Councilman Todd Grayson, who chairs the Health, Sanitation and Public Utilities committee of council and has spearheaded the effort to remove the city from TARTA and set up the new public transportation system, made it clear that the purpose of the meeting was for feedback, and the plan itself was not as yet finalized.
The route, as set up in the plan, would use Route 20/23 as a pivot point, and traverse much of the city proper, as bounded by the city's several Boundary streets, as well as Levis Commons and related environs, and would include ADA, Call-A-Ride, and fixed route service at a cost of $747,344 each year. Buses would run each hour.
Annual revenue for the service is anticipated at $30,000.
"Fares really aren't going to cover the cost of the service," said Grayson. As a result, property tax millage would have to be levied to make up the difference, probably in the neighborhood of 1.25 mills.
Perrysburg citizens voted in March to remove themselves from TARTA, and service from the transit authority will stop at the end of September of this year. The city has hired Clear View Strategies, a transit firm in Pittsburgh, to help develop the transit plan. It is hoped that the plan itself will be finalized in the next few weeks, and then put up for bid for a contractor.
While there may be a liaison within the city for the service, the public transportation system would itself not be run by Perrysburg, but by the contractor. The contractor would be on a contract of approximately five years.
The crowd of more than 50 gathered for the meeting brought up a wide range of concerns, from how the ADA service would work, to whether or not there would be a commuter service as part of the initial offering.
As the plan currently stands, a commuter service would not be offered initially, and jurisdictional issues would have to be worked out with TARTA regarding the ability of the Perrysburg vehicles to travel and drop off individuals in areas serviced by TARTA. Grayson was sanguine that such an agreement could be reached.
Others were concerned that the Call-A-Ride route service would have enough flexibility to accommodate their personal routines, or that service to sporting and musical events in Toledo would be available.
Of continuing concern was the issue that has come to be known as "The Gap." With TARTA service ending in September, and transit service not likely to start up in the city until early next year, residents will be left with a gap period of approximately three months - or longer - without public transportation in the city. There is as yet no concrete plan to deal with the issue. Council pledged previously that it would deal with the matter.
"The Gap exists," acknowledged Grayson when the topic was broached. Explaining that he was happy to address the issue at another meeting, wishing to keep the current one on task, he demurred on the topic Tuesday.
Resident Linda Simmons asked what would happen if the plan and its millage were to be voted down in November. Grayson said that the city would then attempt the measure again in March.
He noted that they must tread a fine line between the services they offer and the costs to be incurred by the system.
"I want to make it as attractive to voters as possible," he said.
"I'll tell you what folks," said Grayson, "no matter what we do it won't be perfect. And it won't be perfect on day one and it won't be perfect after a year." But the system can be tweaked and altered for the public's needs.