A newly released study has found Lorain County public transit system runs too infrequently and serves too little of the county, which has likely and partially caused massive declines in yearly ridership totals.
To increase participation and better serve the community, the study recommends a series of short and long term improvements, including making the existing routes more efficient as well as adding new ones.The findings of the study were detailed in a public meeting Monday afternoon at the Lorain County Transportation Center.
“Public transit is a jobs issue,” said Timothy Rosenberger, an executive from WSP USA, to the packed room of people.
WSP works with public transit agencies across the country.
According to the study’s findings, Lorain county’s public transit system (LCT) has seen ridership drop from 500,000 in 2009 to only 30,000 in 2016. Rosenberger attributed the steep decline to high bus fare rates and limited services. On Dec. 1., bus fares were slashed in half across the board.
Among the study’s recommendations are adjustments to the system’s two current routes. The changes, which include reversing the loop downtown to avoid left turns without a traffic signal, would make the routes more efficient. These changes would come at little to no cost, officials said.
Some of the short and long term changes, which include adding routes to Mercy Regional Medical Center and commercial districts near Avon, would come with a sizable investment. To implement all of the study’s recommendations would cost an estimated $2.8 million. Federal grants could be available, perhaps offsetting roughly half of that investment.
Sue Perry helps run Front Door Ministry, a non-profit organization that initially started under the umbrella of First Lutheran Church. The organization helps some of the county’s most vulnerable populations by providing money for gas, prescription drugs and drivers license fees, among other things.
Perry said her organization experiences the transit system’s limitations every day.
“For example, if somebody comes in and they have a prescription that a doctor has written… even if I give them a check they can’t get the medication because they can’t get there,” Perry said. “We’re probably the only site that is paying for IDs, drivers licenses and those things. [People] can’t get there to get them.”
Oftentimes, someone from the non-profit will drive them to the DMV. Perry and Pastor Rosy Rivera of First Lutheran asked the county commission to consider offering bus passes at a discounted rate in order to help organizations with an already razor-thin budget. Front Door Ministry paid $5000 this year on bus passes for their clients. Others in the crowd asked for the re-vamped bus lines to better service some of the area’s low income neighborhoods, as well as areas with high numbers of seniors.
“I live in south Lorain where East Avenue and Middle Avenue are at least a mile away. I’m wondering how I would walk to Broad Street and then come back with my groceries,” one woman said.