LIMA — Due to shrinking ridership, the Allen County Regional Transit Authority Board of Trustees has begun discussions about changes to the agency’s operations in order to pull in more funding and make up for cuts in fixed routes made last January.
Although the RTA has been more active in expanding their outreach to the public, some of the latest considerations by its board revolve around public reaction about how the authority operates.
A consistent public critique of the service is a lack of full buses, and many residents have asked why the organization doesn’t rely on shorter buses that may save on fuel to recoup funds. ACRTA Executive Director Sheila Haney has begun pulling in data that so far debunks that theory. Haney said many of the buses are filled during peak ridership times — primarily during mornings and late afternoons — and if smaller buses were used, more vehicles would need to be added to the fleet to deal with the demand ultimately eliminating any efficiencies caused by the need for less fuel.
Lima Allen County Regional Planning Commission Director Thom Mazur said he’s heard the “small bus” critique for the last 30 years and labeled the idea as “poppycock.”
The transit authority board also discussed how major private employers — Mercy Health-St. Rita’s Medical Center, Precision Thermoplastic Corp., Nelson Packaging Company, etc. — have contacted the organization about providing some of the services that it once was able to provide when the RTA had more fixed routes.
Haney said some of these companies have said they are willing to contract with the transit authority for employee transportation to their facilities. Haney said it would be more efficient for both parties if fixed routes were re-established, but many of these companies are “desperate getting people to work.”
RTA Board Trustee Josh Parker said this type of arrangement will “be the future” for the agency, and that costs for transportation could be passed onto the workers who use the service.
Despite the work to improve operations, the agency has run into some problems about the perception of its actions.
Since the board nixed a second attempt at raising funds through a November levy due to lack of public support for the idea, the ACRTA has seen some of its experienced employees find other job opportunities. Haney said employees are concerned about the the direction of the organization, and the moves constitute real costs to efficiency.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.