Trumbull County Commissioners, residents discuss bus service options
In a meeting that lasted more than two hours Wednesday--Trumbull County Commissioners, residents, and transit officials weighed options for the future of the county's public transportation.
Currently the county provides door-to-door service for seniors and those with disabilities through a property tax levy that started in 2005.
Since an ODOT grant that paved the way for WRTA routes in Trumbull County expired last month--able-bodied individuals under the age of 60, are down to one WRTA route, an express route.
The issue has pressed county leaders and residents into coming up with a long-term solution and in the interim, restore a few of the main routes where ridership is high.
One of the options discussed at the meeting, a quarter-percent sales tax that would generate around $7 million, and would pay for WRTA service throughout the county.
Commissioner Denny Malloy says there are other options available at less than half the cost.
"There's no way in the world that we're going to ask the people of Trumbull County for a tax that's going to raise $7 million which is only going to serve a small segment of Trumbull County.", Malloy explained, adding that he's not going to do that to shoppers in the county."
Commissioner Cantalamessa, also not in favor of a $7 million service says there doesn't have to be a one size fits all service, but rather compliment services like the senior service levy which is already in place.
"A $3 million system in total is probably what we're shooting for and if we outgrow that system then we take a look at it and we go from there.", Cantalamessa added.
On the other side Commissioner Frenchko, says she would like to see a regionalized service and believes that the WRTA package would help fill in gaps, freeing up money for the senior service levy when hits the ballot again in 2024.
"WRTA would provide door-to-door service all over in Trumbull County for the general public, it's not just the big busses that you see.", said Frenchko.
In the meantime, commissioners say they are going to use local money to access left over Ohio Transit Partnership Program money, about $300,000...with the goal of matching those dollars to restore a few of the main routes that run through Warren, where ridership is high. Commissioners have tasked transit officials to talk to city officials there to see if they'll help to pay for those routes.