ELYRIA — Lorain County Administrator Jim Cordes said Wednesday he’d like to begin running Lorain County Transit buses into downtown Cleveland in two to three weeks.
He told the county commissioners during an administrative session that implementing the proposal is the only way to determine if it will generate enough riders to justify adding the route.
Cordes estimated it would cost between $30,000 and $50,000 to do a six-month trial run of buses between the Lorain County Board of Elections parking lot in Sheffield Township and Public Square in Cleveland. He said that fares, which county officials have previously said could be as high as $7 per ride, would offset the cost.
“We’re going to need six months to find out whether it’s real or not, and we’re going to watch that closely,” Cordes said.
The commissioners haven’t officially committed to running the routes, which Cordes believes will capitalize on county riders looking to get to downtown Cleveland for work or to gamble. He also said it will serve other county residents who work in Cleveland or who attend Cleveland State University.
Commissioner Ted Kalo said he’s in favor of trying out adding the route.
“It’s fine with me,” he said after the meeting. “I think it will help us generate some revenue or be revenue neutral at worst.”
The commissioners have slashed spending to transit in recent years, trimming the service down to two routes running between Lorain and Elyria. That has meant fewer Federal Transportation Administration dollars coming in to the county and idled buses.
Cordes said the FTA has been pressuring the county to either use the buses or return them so they can be given to another county.
“I can’t keep the FTA at bay much longer,” he said.
Commission Tom Williams said while he’s still undecided, he’s leaning toward the pilot program, if only to get the buses operating again.
He did, however question the timeframe Cordes proposed because he believes the issue needs more examination.
“It’s still early talks on it,” he said after the meeting.
Cordes said it’s possible that if the initial Cleveland run proves successful, the county could add additional starting points, possibly in North Ridgeville and Elyria.
Those routes might also be able to stop at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, a service LCT abandoned years ago.
In other business
Commissioners discussed which of the $8.5 million in repairs needed at county-owned buildings they should do and whether take out loans to do cover the expense.
The commissioners said they favored focusing on repairing leaking roofs at the elections board and the county Records Center, repairing sidewalks in downtown Elyria and fixing the antiquated fire system in the Lorain County Administration Building.
Williams said after the meeting that those repairs would cost slightly less than $600,000.
Williams and Commissioner Lori Kokoski said they would consider taking out loans to cover paying for additional capital improvements that the county has put off because of budget problems.
Kalo, however, said he would prefer to spend the $150,000 the county budgets for capital repairs to make the fixes that are most necessary.
He said he doesn’t want the county to commit to paying off a large debt when the financial outlook is still unclear.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.