TARTA Next gains board approval

Oct. 24, 2022
The plan is a roadmap to deliver a promise of providing transit to everyone in Lucas County through an improved fleet, technology and customer experience.

Last week the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority (TARTA) Board of Trustees approved an updated vision and system redesign for the transit system following 18 months of community, employee and customer engagement. 

The TARTA Next project involved multiple levels of community engagement, including a task force of community stakeholders, surveys for TARTA customers and employees and 12 public engagement events. The result is a list of proposed service expansions and improvements that stem directly from the needs and travel habits of TARTA customers, the membership of Lucas County in the authority and TARTA’s financial realities.  

“Great communities have great transit systems. In 2021, the voters expressed their support for modernizing TARTA by approving the change of our funding model to a sales tax and expanding our service area,” said TARTA CEO Laura Koprowski. “When they did that, it was with the understanding that we would improve the fleet, technology and customer experience and provide everyone in Lucas County with access to public transportation.

“We are excited to fulfill that promise with the TARTA Next vision, and to greatly expand the number of people who will be able to use our service. So much hard work by so many people went in to developing this plan. It is amazing to be presenting it to the community, and I cannot wait for the dedicated team at TARTA to put it into action for the benefit of people and businesses across Lucas County.”

Pending Board approval, TARTA’s evolution in 2023 and beyond will include:

  • Microtransit, which will allow public transit options to reach all of Lucas County. Initial microtransit zones will launch in early 2023
  • The extension of fixed route service to Spring Meadows in early 2023 followed by new service for Oregon by 2024
  • The expansion of TARPS coverage area beginning in 2023, in line with TARTA’s fixed-route service
  • Simplification and streamlining service of fixed route service, including a new connection between the Junction neighborhood and Uptown Toledo
  • New customer amenities including covered bus shelters, bus stop signs and connection points throughout the service area to better link to mobility options

In addition to those changes, the TARTA Next vision calls for a number of long-term improvements over the course of the next 5-to-10 years. Those include but aren’t limited to:

  • Developing new connection points to improve customer experience for those who transfer between different TARTA services
  • Increasing special event transportation to festivals, sporting events, and other happenings
  • Purchasing new vehicles including electric and hydrogen fuel-cell buses
  • Improving bus stop positioning, signage and pedestrian access points

“TARTA’s staff has been hard at work in the last couple of years changing the direction of this organization based on what customers have asked for, and it’s an exciting thing to be a part of,” said TARTA Board of Trustees President Kelsie Hoagland. “We’re eager to put this plan into action and make TARTA easier, more efficient, and more comfortable for all of the people who depend on it.

“Laura and her team have demonstrated a drive to help TARTA improve in every aspect, and have harnessed every available resource available to do so. As a Board, we have all the confidence in the world that they will continue to display that dedication as we start this new chapter.”

The microtransit pilot will bring on-demand service, similar to ride-sharing services, to different areas of Lucas County in the next year. Customers will be able to request rides on accessible vehicles that arrive within 30 to 60 minutes, connecting them from western Lucas County and Rossford to TARTA fixed route vehicles.

The TARTA Next vision also calls for new fixed-route service to Spring Meadows Place shopping center in Holland in early 2023, followed by a new TARTA route on Oregon’s Navarre Avenue in 2024. With those expansions, TARTA will also offer a larger service area for paratransit customers.