In its first six days of operation, 144 people rode the Cleveland Commuter Service from Elyria and Sheffield Township to Cleveland’s Public Square or back, according to Pam Novak, Lorain County Transit’s chief financial officer.
The ridership figures aren’t discouraging county Commissioners Ted Kalo and Lori Kokoski, who voted to launch a six-month run of the service.
In addition to helping Lorain County residents get to work downtown, the commissioners thought a number of riders would like to take the service to get to the Horseshoe Casino, which opened in downtown Cleveland earlier this year.
“Anytime we have people riding public transit, that’s a good thing,” Kalo said.
“Once the word gets around, I think the numbers will pick up,” she said.
The third commissioner, Tom Williams, who voted against the service, said he was a little disappointed in ridership figures and planned to get more information at today’s commissioners’ meeting.
The bus to Cleveland costs $3.65 a trip and an all-day pass costs $7.25.
The buses depart six times a day Monday through Friday from two locations: the Lorain County Transportation Center, 40 East Ave., Elyria, and the Lorain County Board of Elections, 1985 North Ridge Road, Sheffield Township.
The departure times from the Transportation Center are 5:45 a.m., 7:45 a.m., 9:45 a.m., 3:45 p.m., 5:45 p.m. and 7:45 p.m.
The departure times from the Board of Elections are 5:55 a.m., 7:55 a.m., 9:55 a.m., 3:55 p.m., 5:55 p.m. and 7:55 p.m.
Westbound from Public Square, the departure times are 6:45 a.m., 8:45 a.m., 10:45 a.m., 4:45 p.m., 6:45 p.m. and 8:45 p.m.
Each bus holds 22 people and the county said it needed about 12 riders per bus to break even.
County Administrator James Cordes has estimated it would cost between $30,000 and $50,000 to do a six-month trial run of the commuter buses to Public Square, but he said fares and selling advertising on the buses would offset some or all of those costs.
There are six trips to and from Cleveland each day, so getting 144 riders over the course of six days is not very impressive, Williams said.
“I question whether that was the right route,” Williams said.
Instead, Williams said the county should again approach Lorain County Veterans Services about running transit routes to the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center in Cleveland, an idea he said was shot down about six months ago.
Veteran services instead runs vans to the clinic, and Williams said the county should determine if transit buses could be more cost effective.
Contact Cindy Leise at 329-7245 or email@example.com.