Before heading into their annual August recess, Brunswick City Council members discussed a proposal that would merge the Brunswick Transit Alternative with Medina County Public Transit.
County transit Director Mike Salamone gave an overview of how a merger would work and answered questions at a committee meeting Monday. He said Council members must decide whether they want to merge this fall because Brunswick’s contract expires at the end of December.
Brunswick contracts with public transit to run busing operations. Salamone said a merger wouldn’t affect drivers because they would continue to provide similar routes within the city.
“They will keep their seniority and keep their job,” he said.”
Salamone was joined by two Brunswick bus drivers who supported the merger.
A merger would require the city to raise fares to the $1.50 rate the county charges. However, under a merger, the county could provide 10 free rides per week for residents 60 and older, and could provide free rides to those receiving assistance from Medina County Job and Family Services.
“If we took over, the rate would go up, but it would increase gradually over time. We wouldn’t do it all at once,” he said. “Seniors would pay nothing and neither would clients of Job and Family Services.”
Fares now are 25 cents for senior citizens and handicapped individuals and 50 cents for adults and students.
Salamone said a merger also would end the practice of deviated routes. Right now, if someone with disabilities calls for a ride, one of the buses on a fixed route will deviate from the route.
“Then you can be running behind, and your bus will be running behind for the rest of the stops,” he said.
Under county transit operation, those with disabilities could still receive a ride, but it would be offered by a different bus, so the other bus can remain on a fixed route and stay on schedule.
Salamone said the other advantage to a merger would be the chance for additional federal dollars. He said the government awards money to transit operations that are working to combine services to serve larger regions with one system.
“They award money based on how many fixed routes you have, and Brunswick has two,” he said. “If I go from five to seven routes, I can get more money for the entire system.”
At-Large Councilwoman Pat Hanek said the proposal was promising.
“I don’t think there’s any reason not to consider a merger,” she said. “If he can get free fares for people, that’s great.”
Council members said they plan to have more discussions on the possible merger after the August recess.