LIMA — Beginning Nov. 4, the Allen County Regional Transit Authority will be reinstating the first of three routes that were initially cut in 2018.
The reinstated route, Route 7, serves a number of manufacturing companies including Nelson Packaging, Ford Motor Co. Lima Engine Plant, Lima Pallet and Nickels Bakery via Reservoir Road and state Route 81.
Route 2-Eastgate, which was modified when Route 7 was nixed, will be returned to its original circuit.
ACRTA Executive Director Shelia Haney said the transit authority was able to restart Route 7 sooner than later due to an increased allocation by the Ohio Department of Transportation. Announced Monday, the Allen County agency is set to receive roughly $590,000 from ODOT.
Haney said Route 8 should be up and running within the next few months, and Saturday services are expected to restart on Jan. 1.
The recently announced ODOT funds will also help shore up ACRTA finances prior to the collection of levy dollars, which are expected to start funding the transit authority in January, Haney said.
After failing to convince voters in 2017, the ACRTA won its levy raising county sales tax by 0.1% the second time around in the spring of this year.
The additional ODOT funds will also help the ACRTA better respond to related ODOT limitations discovered during a technical assistance review audit by the state agency. At that time, ODOT recognized that ACRTA was offering a lowered subsidized rate for some door-to-door services to outside agencies, such as the Area Agency on Aging 3, Elida and Lima schools and Allen County Department of Job and Family Services. ODOT restricted such lowered rates, Haney said, due to how the state agency administers the transit authority’s public role in the community.
“We did that to keep costs down for the community, but we can’t subsidize third party service with grant money,” Haney said. “ODOT said we do not work for third parties. We work for the public.”
As a result, DJFS canceled its contract with ACRTA in order to utilize more competitive rates.
Haney said door-to-door services for riders are still available, but they require that riders go through the proper channels. The other more cost-effective option for both riders and the ACRTA, Haney said, is to take advantage of fixed routes, such as the newly re-instated Route 7.
In related news, since winning the spring levy, ACRTA has been pushing forward a number of other related projects as they wait for levy dollars. The expanded parking lot downtown near the ACRTA station was stalled for a time, Haney said, but plans are moving forward again after movements from the project’s architect.
ACRTA has also recently started using three new buses obtained after winning a federal transit authority capital grant which had been applied for two years ago. Haney said since she began working for the ACRTA five years ago, new bus purchases have been 100% paid for by capital grants obtained by the ACRTA.
“We’re to the point where fixed route buses are all within their useful life,” Haney said. “We got a good fleet now.”
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.