Special to The Truth
Public transportation is set to become a viable option for more residents of Lucas County, thanks in part to the most recent competitive grant secured by the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority (TARTA).
TARTA will launch an on-demand microtransit pilot in the first quarter of 2023, revamping the current Call-A-Ride system to allow customers to request curb-to-curb transportation within specific service areas through a new mobile phone app or by calling TARTA.
TARTA was recently awarded a $3.2 million grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation, which included $2.2 million to fund the microtransit program, alongside funds for facility renovations, bus washers, alternative fuel infrastructure, and new vehicles.
TARTA CEO Laura Koprowski, TARTA Board of Trustees Vice President Mary Morrison and Springfield Township Trustee Andrew Glenn took part in a press conference to announce the grant and the microtransit pilot Wednesday, August 31 at Spring Meadows Shopping Center, one of the several locations public transportation will now be able to reach under this program.
“This is a big win for our area and those who have the chance to join the thousands of Lucas County and Rossford residents who already depend on public transportation,” said Koprowski. “We want to thank ODOT and our state legislators who are down at our state capital every day advocating for TARTA. They recognize the positive impact that programs like this can have on the lives of their constituents.
“We are happy to be reaching new communities with microtransit, and for those with mobility challenges to be able to provide an additional lifeline and a way for those residents to be able to connect with their communities.”
The first half of the pilot program will bring on-demand microtransit service to Zone 1A (Sylvania, Sylvania Township, Ottawa Hills, Springfield Township, and Holland) and Zone 2A (Maumee, Monclova Township, Whitehouse and Waterville). Soon after, microtransit service will be introduced to Zone 1B (Berkey and northwest Lucas County) and Zone 2B (Southwest Lucas County).
The microtransit pilot project will also serve customers in those areas with ADA eligibility, seniors, and anyone with mobility challenges. On-demand rides will be delivered in a fully accessible fleet of vehicles.
Passengers will be able to request rides that would arrive in 30 to 60 minutes, similar to rideshare services, and those traveling outside of their specific area will be able to connect to TARTA’s fixed-route stops using the microtransit service. With the project still in the planning stages, specific pricing and other details are still being discussed.
“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I would like to thank Laura and her team for their vision and passion as we move public transportation into the future, especially in Springfield Township,” said Springfield Township Trustee Andy Glenn. “Lucas County and Rossford are going to be more accessible by way of microtransit. The residents and businesses in Springfield Township will benefit from this new concept.”
With these funds included, TARTA has won a total of more than $20 million in competitive grants in the last year.
“We are so grateful for the confidence the voters showed in us last year, and the hardworking team members at TARTA continue to show those voters they made the right choice by aggressively pursuing and winning competitive grants,” said TARTA Board of Trustees Vice President Mary Morrison. “These funds will go toward making this is a system we can all be proud of.
“As a resident of Sylvania, I have enjoyed being able to use TARTA’s Call-A-Ride service myself. With this pilot program, everyone in this area will be able to use that service to connect with jobs, medical appointments, grocery shopping, and other essential destinations.”
This program will be built with the help and input of an advisory group, made up of TARTA customers and other community leaders, that will meet virtually for the first time Wednesday, Sept. 28. Current Call-A-Ride users, persons with disabilities and western Lucas County residents likely to use TARTA’s expanded service are invited to attend, and should look for log-in information in the coming weeks on TARTA social media sites