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County asked to decide on transit merger

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County Administrator Scott Miller asked Medina County commissioners to have their decision on the proposed merger of Medina County Public Transit and the Brunswick Transit Alternative by Tuesday's meeting.

Separately, Brunswick Council, which has given its OK, will hold a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 27 at city hall to finalize plans if commissioner approves the merger.

Commissioner Adam Friedrick said the bus system needs to be on the lookout for additional funding.

"After 2018, we have to have a contingency plan," he said. "This will give us two years to figure out where we have to be."

Facing a deficit

A key to the proposal was whether MCPT would receive "pass-through funds" from the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. BTA receives $320,000 a year from RTA for running its bus system. MCPT will receive those funds for two years if the merger is approved.

Brunswick Council passed a resolution Monday extending the agreement with GCRTA for the bus route known as the "251 Flyer" that picks up in Laurel Square to Strongsville and onto Cleveland.

"(RTA is) willing to commit to 2017 and '18," MCPT Director Mike Salamone said.

After 2018, the MCPT would have to find other funding to keep the bus system afloat.

"There's going to be a deficit any way we do this," Salamone said.

If the merger is approved, Salamone said the MCPT is facing a deficit of about $122,000 for 2017. If the merger doesn't go through, the deficit could be as high as $200,000.

Salamone said he recommends the merger to give MCPT other funding opportunities.

"We (would) raise the (BTA) fares to match ours in 2018 and 2019," Salamone said. "Brunswick wants a lot of its clients to ride free." MCPT fares range from $1 to $4, according to the system's website.

"We just have to keep finding ways to keep this thing going," Salamone said. "If we don't do the merger, there's no way we are going get state money, any more fare box money or more advertising money. We need to find other alternatives."

Buses and contracts

If approved, the MCPT would receive three new buses from Brunswick for $1 apiece. Salamone said he's already put in an order for four more new buses. The seven new buses would cut maintenance fees drastically.

Also, BTA has contracts with several companies that advertise on the side of the buses, bringing in approximately $1,000 a month per bus on a yearly basis.

"Those contracts will come over to us (if the merger is approved)," Salamone said. "It's a two-year contract and could go on past that."

The two systems would total about 90,000 trips per year with the addition of BTA's 28,000 trips, Salmone said.

"What's going to happen in 2018, we would receive an increase in state funds (with increase ridership)," Salamone said.

Salamone said the BTA raises about $8,000 to $10,000 from its fare boxes. He said it's a low figure because the BTA charges between 25 cents to 50 cents per trip.

MCPT ridership is made up of:

  • 20 percent disabled
  • 20 percent seniors
  • 50 percent low income (less than $10,000 a year)
  • 60 percent don't have a driver's license
  • 80 percent don't have a working vehicle

Other news

  • Commissioners submitted a Transportation for Living Communities Initiative Implementation Grant application to the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency for purchasing signs for placement along bicycle routes within the county as described on the Medina County Bicycle Transportation Route System Map. The grant requested is for $155,000.
  • The second Senior Walk event last September generated $4,500 for the Medina County Office for Older Adults' hot meals program. Medina County Clerk of Courts Dave Wadsworth said that would provide about 900 meals. The third Senior Walk will be 10 a.m. Friday, Sept. 1, on Public Square in Medina.
  • Commissioners recognized and commended Pete Berger for 50 years' service with the Valley City Fire Department. Berger retired Nov. 11. He joined the department in 1966 and was promoted to chief in 1979, where he worked for 27 years. He was credited with employing women in the department.
  • Commissioners appointed Chris L. Aviles to the Medina County Port Authority. His term began Tuesday and ends Dec. 31, 2018. He replaces Bill Hutson, who will be sworn in as a Medina County commissioner in January after winning the Nov. 8 election.

Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or rfinnan@medina-gazette.com.

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