OH: Perrysburg Residents Voice Transit Concerns

May 23--Perrysburg residents voiced concerns at a city council meeting Tuesday over whether commuters would struggle to connect with the community's newly proposed shuttle routes or if the new service would be as popular as TARTA's Call-A-Ride.

"Bam. You just wiped out the work force," said Gregory Symington, who worried about Levis Commons employees getting to work from outside the city.

Perrysburg resident Liz Ruffolo expressed disappointment in the plan's emphasis on a community shuttle that runs regular hourly stops instead of a more individualized service such as Call-A-Ride.

"That's really where the action is during the day," she said during a crowded meeting in City Council chambers. "The Call-A-Ride is much more useful than the fixed shuttle."

The two were among about 45 people who attended the public meeting to express their fears and give feedback about the transit system proposal, still in its infancy.

The city has made no firm decisions.

Officials plan to place on the Nov. 6 general election ballot a request for a property tax for an independent transit system.

If it is approved, the transportation system would start Jan. 1 as a replacement to TARTA. Perrysburg voters approved an opt-out referendum for the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority in March.

Councilman J. Todd Grayson, who led the meeting, said the goal is to find a balance between the audience's ridership needs and a proposal that Perrysburg voters would be willing to support at the ballot box.

Mr. Grayson's pitch is to hire a company to serve as a community shuttle that would run about 10 stops in the city hourly. The shuttle could travel outside the fixed route, but how far and how often are still unknown, he said.

The same shuttle system would offer curb-to-curb service only for people with disabilities and would travel anywhere in the greater Toledo area covered by TARTA to take them to and from Perrysburg, he said during the meeting.

The system's operations are expected to cost $500,000 to $600,000 annually. Mr. Grayson said a 1.25-mill levy would generate an estimated $687,000 to subsidize the system on top of about $30,000 in bus fares. That type of millage would cost about $38.29 a year for the owner of a $100,000 home.

Many key details, such as whether a Perrysburg shuttle could legally drive over the bridge to Maumee in TARTA's jurisdiction, are unresolved legal questions, Mr. Grayson said. A Maumee stop would connect riders to the TARTA bus system.

"That's entirely a board decision," Tom Metzger, TARTA transportation superintendent, said after the meeting when asked if the transit authority would work with the city. He did not speak during the nearly two-hour discussion.

Contact Gabrielle Russon at: grusson@theblade.com or 419-724-6026.

Copyright 2012 - The Blade, Toledo, Ohio

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