Perrysburg leaders looked a little silly on Wednesday, after voters narrowly defeated a 1.45-mill levy that would have provided limited transit service for people with disabilities. Perrysburg withdrew from the regional transit system, and its 2.5-mill tax, this year. The 1.45-mill alternative was the plan city leaders thought could provide adequate service for a lot less money.
It didn’t work out, and an interim contract for paratransit and call-a-ride service was set to expire this month. Now Perrysburg faces a serious transportation problem that demands immediate attention.
Leaving people with disabilities without a way to get to medical appointments or jobs is not acceptable in any municipality that calls itself a community.
Mayor Nelson Evans called the election results unfortunate but asserted that the voters had spoken. That’s not leadership. Neither the mayor nor members of the City Council can shrug their shoulders and walk away from what is, at bottom, a moral responsibility to their residents.
The best route now for Perrysburg is to contract with the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority for limited interim service, and then put the question of TARTA on the March ballot. It would take a vote of the people for Perrysburg to rejoin the regional transit system.
TARTA serves eight communities and carries more than 3 million riders a year. Two communities, Sylvania and Spencer townships, wisely voted Tuesday to stay in the system. They understood the economic and social benefits that only a regional transit system can provide. TARTA’s other members are Maumee, Waterville, Ottawa Hills, Rossford, and Toledo.
Leaving TARTA was shortsighted. A local shuttle service won’t replace nearly 67,000 boardings, including more than 6,000 paratransit users, in Perrysburg for trips around the region.
With an interim contract approved by TARTA’s board, transit service in Perrysburg could probably start in two weeks, TARTA marketing director Steve Atkinson said.
Meantime, perhaps the mayor and City Council members could provide shuttle service for constituents who need it.