Public transit needs aired PDF Print E-mail
Written by PETER KUEBECK Sentinel Staff Writer   
Saturday, 30 March 2013 08:12
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Robin Richter of WSOS speaks with seniors Willard Misfeldt (left) and Jack Kleinduring (right) during a transportation forum at the Wood County Committee on Aging headquaters in Bowling Green, Ohio. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
Considering the attention public transportation has gotten in Perrysburg and Rossford in recent years, one might think transit is a concern restricted to northern Wood County alone.
But a countywide project is seeking to clarify the kinds of transportation needs seen throughout the county.
"Part of the problem we have with the public transportation portfolio of the county" is that, with exceptions like Rossford and Bowling Green, the Wood County lacks ready access to public transit, said Chris Van Newhouse. He is one of the students in the master of public administration program at Bowling Green State University working on the project as part of a seminar course.
"It's part of the planning process to update the 2008 Locally Coordinated Human Services Transportation Plan" originally prepared by the BGSU Institute for Child and Family Policy, said Robin Richter, WSOS director of senior and transportation services, who is coordinating the effort. Funding for some projects in Wood County is contingent upon the plan and its outcomes. 
"We had an interest in trying to look at the greater rural parts of Wood County" and the transportation needs and gaps, she said. The students are leading the process, conducting interviews, distributing surveys and holding focus groups - held last week in North Baltimore, Weston, Pemberville, and Bowling Green.
The lack of public transportation in Wood County has been an issue for some time. In interviews earlier this year, former United Way Wood County Director Nick Kulik and Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Director Tom Clemons acknowledged concerns created by a lack of transportation solutions in the county.
During the focus group help in Bowling Green Thursday at the Wood County Senior Center, Richter recognized that the situation is somewhat different in Bowling Green, which offers its own call-ahead transportation system called BG Transit.
However, "there are people in the community, they can't get out, can't come to things like this (meeting)," she said, stating public transportation has the potential to be "an affordable option so you can access other services in the community."
She pointed out the differences in transportation services between Wood and Sandusky counties: while Wood County has a number of public and private transit providers, none of them are cohesive, and many have restrictions for use based on health, income eligibility and other factors.
In Sandusky County, "it is a county-wide system," offering trips throughout the county for $3.
"There's a lot of good things going on in Wood County as far as transportation," she said, "but I think we can do better."
Richter and the students then worked with groups of audience members to discuss the issues and concerns about a lack of public transit.
Among the topics discussed:
• The use of personal vehicles.
• Expenses placed on caregivers looking after those without transit. "We're all going to live a lot longer than the generation before us," said Richter.
• Issues when family members live far away.
• The difficulty of driving at night for some mobile elderly.
• The fact that some elderly have jobs or volunteer and may not have access to transportation.
One attendee pointed out that when she lived in Perrysburg Township, that area was not serviced by either Perrysburg, which had TARTA service at the time, or the rest of Wood County.
"They're sort of out in limbo-land," she said.
"I get the most calls out of Northwood" and Walbridge, said Richter.
The students will be making a presentation of their findings April 24 at 6 p.m. in the Holiday Inn Express in Bowling Green, 2150 E. Wooster St., as part of BGSU's Economic Development Summit.
Last Updated on Saturday, 30 March 2013 08:19
 

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