December 20, 2014

Elyria
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County to end casino bus route

ELYRIA — Lorain County Transit will cease offering rides into downtown Cleveland on Aug. 16.

The county commissioners voted to scrap the underperforming route during a meeting Wednesday and also didn’t replace it with stops elsewhere in Cuyahoga County that they had been considering.

The county launched the Cleveland run in September with hopes that it would draw patrons for the Horseshoe Casino and downtown Cleveland workers, but the buses never really caught on with more than a handful of riders.

Pam Novak, transit’s chief finance officer, said the experiment has cost the county about $46,000 so far.

Commissioner Ted Kalo had wanted to keep a limited connection to Cuyahoga County by running a bus twice a day to a Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority park-and-ride site in Westlake, but because of concerns over the county’s finances that route wasn’t approved.

The commissioners also didn’t expand a route in Lorain that they had been considering.

Commissioner Tom Williams has long pushed to entirely scrap runs into Cuyahoga County and spend the money to bulk up runs in Lorain County.

The county is still eyeing one expansion that would add runs from Lorain to Green Circle Growers in Camden Township and expanded service in Oberlin, but that would be paid for by the city of Oberlin, Oberlin College and Green Circle if a deal is reached.

Commissioner Lori Kokoski said she has been in talks with a nonprofit agency in the county to help fund transit but declined to discuss the details.

The county has slashed the amount of money it spends on transit from around $1.5 million annually to its current $50,000 a year plus what was spent on the Cleveland run.

That has limited what services are offered and has led to complaints from the Federal Transportation Administration and Ohio Department of Transportation that the county needs to do a better job of providing bus service.

Already ODOT has demanded the return of more than $1.5 million and county Administrator Jim Cordes said that after Wednesday’s meeting the FTA told him the county must return five new buses it has had warehoused for the past few years because of its limited public transit system.

Voters rejected a property tax levy earlier this year that would have increased transit funding.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.