Questions and Comments from the Locally Coordinated Human Service Transportation Plan Public Meeting. Held on August 27, 2020.
1. I am a new healthcare agency in Lucas County and approved by DODD and next week will be approved by the State for Non-Emergency Medical Transport, how can we work with you? Is there anything that we can do team up with you or any other local organizations to provide our service to clients in need?
TARTA’s Mobility Manager, Daniel Hunt, keeps a database of all transportation providers in the region. He can work with you to help identify potential clients and can help inform others about your service. Additionally, you may be eligible to apply for Section 5310 funds, which can help cover some of the costs associated with purchasing handicap accessible vehicles. Feel free to reach out to Daniel at email@example.com 419-725-5281.
2. Is TARTA service going to remain FREE/with no fares through the end of COVID or is this still to be determined?
As long as TARTA is able to financially sustain this safety measure, we will remain fare free and request that all customers board through the rear bus door on our fixed-route lines. We feel that this as one of the safest measures that we can take to limit the spread of COVID.
3. Is TARTA and TARPS able to offer services like Uber/Lyft?
TARTA currently has Call A Ride where individuals can call and request a ride. Please visit https://tarta.com/services/call-a-ride/ for more information.
4. When will TARTA run on holidays again?
In order to restore holiday service for TARTA’s fixed-route bus service, TARTA’s financial outlook will need to improve. Currently, TARTA is predicting a $60 million deficit by 2027 if no changes are made to increase TARTA’s local funding and/or if no cost savings are implemented which could include further route reductions during weekday service. For more information about TARTA’s financial outlook, visit https://tarta.com/future.
5. When can we expect Sunday service to be restored?
TARTA will need to secure additional local funding in order to restore Sunday service for its fixed bus route service. Learn more about TARTA’s financial outlook at https://tarta.com/future.
6. Does Mobility Management help match customers with transportation services?
Yes. It is a goal of Mobility Management to provide available mobility options to customers requesting transportation services.
7. Doesn’t Mobility Management work with transportation services provided by senior and DD providers? What about consumers who aren’t served by DD or senior agencies? Don’t they have to private pay?
Mobility Management is a community resource that provides mobility options for seniors and individuals with disabilities. The entire transportation network – public transit, private operators, cycling and walking, volunteer drivers and others work together with customers, planners and stakeholders to deliver the best transportation options. Yes, some transit options include private pay.
8. We just heard that TARTA bought some buses from COTA. Are these buses newer than TARTA vehicles, even though they’re used?
The recently purchased COTA buses are around 8-10 years newer than the older TARTA vehicles in our fleet. We are impressed with how well the COTA buses have been maintained, so that should help us maintain those costs. In addition, we just learned that TARTA is receiving $2.2 million from the Ohio Department of Transportation to help us purchase 10-12 new buses.
9. How do you find a vanpool that goes to, or near, where you need to go?
TARTA and Commute with Enterprise have announced TARTA SHARE-A-VAN. The first vanpool partnership for our region. Employers must sign –up for employees to participate. For more information, please reach out to TARTA’s Mobility Manager: Daniel Hunt, Phone: 419-725-5281, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
10. It was mentioned that TARPS ridership is growing. I think part of the reason for this is that the fixed-route TARTA system can be hard to use. There is a lot of walking and changing buses, which can be difficult for people with even mild disabilities, so a lot of people are able to apply for and become eligible for paratransit.
This is a good point. TARPS is a great option from individuals who find it difficult navigating the TARTA fixed line routes. TARPS is an application and interview process with a TARPS Mobility Specialist. TARTA offers Travel Training a self-paced process where an individual regardless of ability or age, can learn to use TARTA’s services. TARTA will also be undergoing a Comprehensive Operational Analysis (COA) of its services to improve the customer experience, provide better access within the community, and with a goal of making it easier for all customers to utilize TARTA including those with mild disabilities.
11. Taxis and many private transportation services are too expensive to use all the time.
One question we are asking private transportation providers is what type of payments they accept. This will help us create gain a better understanding on what options are available for individuals with low-income and cannot afford private services.
12. Is there a role for Uber and Lyft within this plan? How can we make sure drivers are well vetted for riders’ safety?
Uber and Lyft are becoming more widely available in this region. We need to acknowledge the role they have in our region regarding transportation, so they will be included in the plan. Uber and Lyft have their own driver standards and more communication has begun with representatives from each agency to determine ways we can work together with them.
13. TARTA obviously needs to switch to sales tax funding, not just to expand, but to even survive long-term. I think there should be advocacy around changing state law to make switching easier. Can TMACOG advocate for the move to sales tax funding?
TMACOG works with a coalition of transportation stakeholders to maintain a Transportation Legislative Agenda. This agenda is updated every two years and regional stakeholders have included and acknowledged the need for a county-wide transit system. This agenda can be utilized by anyone wishing to advocate for sustainable funding and the switch to a county-wide transit system.
14. I think electronic payment can be great, but we need to make sure that it doesn’t become the only way to pay so that people who don’t own smartphones can’t ride the bus.
This is a great point. As we continue to advance technology, we want to make the transportation experience for users convenient and accessible. We need to be mindful that we continue to be inclusive by offering multiple ways for individuals to pay.
15. It is great that Ohio DD providers provide transportation – but there are people with disabilities who can’t drive because of their disability, but who don’t qualify for DD services.
This is another reason why the coordinated plan is vital to our region. We want to identify gaps and needs like this one in order to determine ways to address these issues. We do our best to get involvement from as many transportation providers as possible in order for us to know all of the resources available for the consumers.
16. When there is money for full weekend services, I think it would be good if the hours were the same as the weekdays. People who work at places like grocery stores do have weekend shifts, and there are many reasons people go out on the weekends. In the past, TARTA’s weekend hours were reduced compared to the workweek. If anything, maybe weekend hours should be extended later in the evening.
17. It seems like there are people who don’t believe there’s a real funding issue for TARTA and think TARTA is just cutting services arbitrarily.
18. Is the unanimous consent of members issue in the Ohio Constitution? I thought it was a state statute. We did have a legislator introduce a bill to change it last year.
The unanimous consent for members to let another member in, is in the Ohio Revised Code.
19. Should all questions and comments sent by email go to Marissa, or should they go to Sean or Daniel if it’s their area?
Comments and questions can be submitted to Marissa Bechstein, Sean Smith or Daniel Hunt. They are working together on the plan, so we will communicate with each other when comments and questions are received.
20. Public Comment:
All TARTA routes going in or out of the suburbs go to or from downtown. If you want to travel from one suburb to another, or even to some part of Toledo that’s not downtown, you have to change buses. This is not just an inconvenience – it makes the system harder to use, especially for people who are cognitively challenged, even to a minor degree (like me). Almost everywhere I’d need to go would involve a transfer – I also find the schedules and maps hard to understand. This is partly why TARPS ridership is up – it doesn’t take a very serious disability to make it hard to use the fixed-route system. We need direct routes from one suburb to another and to different parts of Toledo (TARTA has talked about re-designing the system if they get the funding)
21. Public Comment:
We need buses and trains to connect the different metro areas -connect Toledo to Bowling Green, Oak Harbor, Ann Arbor, and beyond. When I was out of school, this was an issue with finding employment – it was difficult to go out of my immediate area. For people who drive cars and live in Toledo, a job interview in Bowling Green, for example, is not that hard.
22. Public Comment:
One problem with TARPS and many transit services is that trips have to be scheduled far in advance, and sometimes if they’re not, the time you need isn’t available. And, if you have scheduled a pick-up time, you’re usually stuck leaving the event then. Or, if there is a window of time the bus might arrive, you have to spend that whole window watching for them.
Further comments or questions may be emailed it to TMACOG’s Transportation Planner, Marissa Bechstein at email@example.com or 419-241-9155 ext. 1117.
If you were not able to attend the public meeting, an online recording is now available.
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