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Brunswick-Medina County bus merger goes into effect Sunday

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Effective Sunday, Brunswick Transit Alternative will merge with Medina County Public Transit. County commissioners approved the move Wednesday morning. Brunswick City Council agreed to the change Tuesday.

“As a result of the merger between MCPT and BTA, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority will continue to apply for and accept BTA’s share of federal funds and disburse operating funds to Medina for fiscal years 2017 and 2018,” reads a resolution commissioners unanimously approved Wednesday.

For five years, Brunswick transit has been operated by the county transit but Brunswick was responsible for administrative and maintenance functions. The merger will allow the county transit to maintain the administrative bookkeeping responsibilities for the countywide transportation system.

Brunswick Transit Alternative

Brunswick Service Director Paul Barnett reassured residents at Tuesday night’s council meeting that the merger will not change routes, hours of operation or affect Brunswick transit drivers as they are employed through Medina transit.

Brunswick transit operates two fixed routes with 11 designated stops 6:05 a.m. to 7:10 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10:20 a.m. to 5:18 p.m. Saturday. It does not provide service Sundays or holidays.

The county transit will add a bus to provide additional options for variable routes in Brunswick.

Beginning in 2018, riders will see an increase in rates on the current fixed routes for seniors, people with disabilities, adults and students. Brunswick transit fares have not increased since 1987.

The variable routes will subsidize the fare for seniors, veterans and disabled veterans, effective 2018, for the opportunity to ride the transit for free.

Subsidized fares will vary based on the ridership but are estimated to cost the city an additional $10,700, Barnett said.

Brunswick will continue to receive about $260,000 annually in operating funds from the Regional Transit Authority. The city is able to use the funds to cover its annual $45,000 share to the county for transit operations, subsidies for veterans’ bus fares and other obligations that may arise in the future.

The city also extended its agreement with the Regional Transit Authority through Dec. 31, 2018, for the “251 Flyer” route. The route picks up riders in Laurel Square and transports them to Strongsville Park and Ride on Pearl Road and onto Cleveland.

The route is funded by the Regional Transit Authority — $54,000 — with no additional costs to the city.

Brunswick will continue to have a voice in transportation efforts as it will appoint a representative to the county transit consortium board. The board makes recommendations that go to Medina County commissioners for final approval.

The city also will give three new buses to county public transit for a $1 apiece.

Medina County Public Transit

Last week, county public transit Director Mike Salamone said MCPT saw a double-digit dips in ridership this year.

“Year-to-date MCPT ridership is down 10.97 percent compared to 2015,” Salamone said during a Dec. 20 county commissioners meeting.

Brunswick transit saw a 5.58 percent reduction over the same time period, he added.

Commissioner Adam Friedrick has 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.”

Brunswick’s agreement with the Regional Transit Authority ends in two years.

In the meantime, Salamone said he has secured two grants for 2017 MCPT services.

First, the agency will get $57,029 from the state through the Urban Transit Program.

A second state grant, from the Ohio Transit Preservation Partnership Program, is for $300,922, Salamone said. “The project includes funding of three buses and one van,” he said.

The local match for the second grant is $60,198, which is to be covered by a state transit development credit program.

Contact reporter Halee Heironimus at (330) 721-4012 or hheironimus@medina-gazette.com.

Contact reporter Marina Malenic at (330) 721-4063 or nmalenic@medina-gazette.com.



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