By Fletcher Word
Sojourner’s Truth Editor
Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur visited the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority’s Central Avenue headquarters on Friday July 1, to speak about a $410,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation she helped secure and what that grant will mean for the future of transportation in the northwest Ohio.
“Congresswoman Kaptur is helping us to change the trajectory,” said Laura Koprowski, TARTA CEO, during her introduction of the representative. “She has been an enthusiastic, longtime advocate for TARTA.”
“These funds will help the TARTA transformation that is underway in all areas of our operations, from modernizing our facilities and fleet to creating a more reliable, efficient transit system the people and businesses in this area need and deserve,” Koprowski said in a statement released prior to the press conference.
In the last year, TARTA has been awarded more than $17 million, primarily from the American Recovery Act. The additional $410,000 will enable TARTA to craft a services plan and support its system redesign TARTA Next.
“Today, part of a goal of delivering for our community is trying to being federal dollars here,” said Kaptur as she began her remarks. “The TARTA goal of creating TARTA Next is a once in a generation [effort] to retool transit.”
TARTA Next is a plan for the future that will expand and improve the transit experience for area riders. That vision includes redesigned bus services; expanded and easier service and the creation of mobility opportunities. The plans for the future have been guided by ongoing community input.
TARTA Next envisions improving and expanding service on several fronts. First, of course, there are the fixed routes, those routes that are ideal for dense population areas. TARTA is looking at ways to improve such routes where they already exist and include fixed routes in densely populated areas not currently served, such as Springfield and Oregon.
Paratransit service will also be expanded to the fixed route bus services and the vehicles redesigned and replaced.
TARTA will be adding a microtransit plan – new curb-to-curb on demand service within less densely populated zones. Microtransit vehicles, which will be available much like Uber or Lyft, will connect riders to TATRA bus service.
New connecting points will be established where fixed route buses and intersect with microtransit vehicles and, finally, TARTA will be integrating transit services of multiple types – such as bike/car share, car pools and scooters to have comprehensive travel service throughout the service area.
Kaptur emphasized not only the TARTA effort to enhance transit service within the area but also the prospects of connecting such service to other entities in the regional area – with both private and public entities.
“When we work together, all things are possible … there is a way to solve the problem of congestion,” she said of today’s issues with traffic.
Also speaking at the press conference was Carly Allen, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 697. “This is what tomorrow is all about … getting people to work.”