December 22, 2014

Elyria
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County’s transit plan reduces LCT to two routes

ELYRIA — Lorain County Transit could be down to two routes and two extra buses to serve the handicapped under a proposal being examined by the county.

Four of the current 12 routes would be retained and combined into two fixed routes.

Routes 1 and 51 would be combined to form one route, while Routes 2 and 52 would be combined to form a second route.
Buses would operate from Monday to Friday 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Evening and Saturday service would be eliminated, according to Interim General Manager Richard Enty.

“These two fixed routes carry 46 percent of the riders on the system,” Enty said.

Under the plan, Route 1 — which travels from the transfer point near Midway Mall in Elyria to its farthest point at Broadway and 33rd Street in Lorain — would be combined with Route 51, the East Elyria/Broad Street loop that runs past Lorain County Community College and Midway Mall.

The second fixed route would be a combination of Route 2, which travels from the transfer point in Elyria to East 30th Street and Vine Avenue in Lorain, and Route 52, the Abbe Road loop, which travels as far south as Chestnut Ridge and Fuller roads.

Service to several key locations like Job and Family Services, the Nord Center and Gathering Hope House now provided on Route 31 would be retained in the two new proposed fixed routes, Enty said.

In addition to the two larger fixed routes, the plan calls for two additional buses to be set aside to provide transportation for the handicapped, he said.

Under the plan, service would be retained in the central core of Elyria and Lorain and eliminated in communities such as North Ridgeville, Sheffield Lake, Oberlin and Wellington.

The plan to operate two routes has not yet been approved by commissioners and First Transit, which provides Lorain County Transit’s drivers and operates the transit buses, Enty said.

On Wednesday, the county commissioners were told briefly of the plans, which are under review by County Administrator James Cordes and his assistant, Ronald Twining, according to Commissioner Ted Kalo.

Unless the county gets a transfusion of additional funding, “It’s going to be less service,” Kalo said.

The commissioners are expected to discuss the changes at a meeting at 9:30 a.m. Jan. 11 at the County Administration Building.

Meanwhile, the Elyria Greyhound station was set to close at LCT’s Third Street office across from The Chronicle-Telegram and reopen today at 900 Lake Ave., according to LCT’s Web site.

Commissioners cut the county’s $500,000 support to LCT following the defeat in November of a sales tax to support criminal justice services, saying that bus service is not required under the law and the money was needed elsewhere.

U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton, D-Copley Township, was able to arrange for $295,000 in transit funding, but county officials said many routes still must be eliminated because the federal money does not bring in matching money like county money does.

Other communities also are suffering from transit cuts, said Amanda Woodrum of Policy Matters Ohio, which joined with other transportation, public policy, social service and environmental organizations Wednesday to announce the “Save Transit Now, Move Ohio Forward!” campaign to reverse the decline of public transportation.

Cuts to federal and state transit funding have forced Ohio transit agencies to rely on local sales, income and property taxes, which are declining due to the economy.

“Sales tax revenues in Cleveland plunged 10 percent since December 2008 and nearly 20 percent since November 2007,” said George Zeller, a member of the Greater Cleveland RTA Citizen Advisory Board. That amounts to a $2.9 million decline per month or $35 million per year and declines are steeper in Dayton and Toledo.

Contact Cindy Leise at 329-7245 or cleise@chroniclet.com.