ELYRIA — Beginning Sept. 10, Lorain County residents will be able to hop on a bus in Elyria and Sheffield Township and get a ride to the Horseshoe Casino in downtown Cleveland for just $3.65 a trip.
An all-day pass on the Cleveland Commuter Service would cost $7.25.
The buses will depart six times a day from two locations: the Lorain County Transportation Center at 40 East Ave., Elyria, and the Lorain County Board of Elections, 1985 North Ridge Road, Sheffield Township.
The service is targeted at commuters as much as casino-goers, said County Administrator James Cordes, who said each bus holds 22 people.
“We’ll need 10 to 12 riders to break even,” Cordes said. “We’re going to use them (casino-goers) to run a service for people who need to get to Cleveland.”
Lots of calls are coming to Lorain County Transit from people who want to get to Cuyahoga Community College or other places served by the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, according to Pam Novak, transit’s chief financial officer.
Through this new service, the only place to get on and off the Lorain County Transit bus is Public Square in Cleveland, where riders “can hop on any of the Cleveland RTA buses or get on the rapid,” Novak said.
County Commissioners Lori Kokoski and Ted Kalo voted last week to begin the service for a trial period of up to six months. Commissioner Tom Williams voted no.
Williams said he still has concerns about the program, although it does allow the county to continue using two of the 12 buses the county transit system obtained in 2009 with federal funds.
Unless the buses are in use, federal officials can ask that the buses be sent back to be used by another transit company.
Kokoski said the casino is giving free gaming incentives to people who ride other bus services into downtown Cleveland. She told Cordes to look into whether the Lorain County riders could receive similar incentives if they use Lorain County’s Cleveland Commuter Service.
Cordes estimated it will cost between $30,000 and $50,000 to do a six-month trial run of buses, but fares and selling advertising on the buses will offset some or all of those costs.
The buses have been in storage after commissioners slashed funding for the transit system in recent years, trimming the service down to two routes running between Lorain and Elyria.
Williams said that while he opposes the program, he does hope it is successful.
Williams said he personally would have preferred to see funding going to repairing county buildings or to offering additional transit services within the county.
For example, Williams said he would have liked to see the county start bus service to the Lorain County Joint Vocational School for adult classes, which assist people in getting their lives back on track.
Cordes also said Wednesday he would like to again serve Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, a service that was popular with Oberlin College students but was abandoned by Lorain County Transit years ago.
Additionally, Cordes reported that the county is close to bringing Greyhound back to Elyria at the Lorain County Transportation Center.
“I’m 98 percent sure Greyhound will be coming to our transportation center,” Cordes said. “I’m hoping to give you good news next week.”
The service had been offered at other locations around town in recent years, including a county building on Third Street, but was discontinued by Greyhound recently after Elyria Mayor Holly Brinda raised concerns about the bus station’s former Lake Avenue location after a woman was attacked.
In other business, Kokoski said she was concerned about reports that Lorain County Auditor Mark Stewart was planning the purchase of more than 50 new chairs for his office staff.
Cordes said after the meeting that purchasing the chairs would cost about $25,000.
Stewart did not return a call seeking comment.
Contact Cindy Leise at 329-7245 or firstname.lastname@example.org.