Sunday, Jun 24, 2018
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Stay on the bus

Rossford City Council members will meet tonight to talk about whether to keep their community in the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority. It should be a short meeting that ends with a clear commitment from Rossford’s leaders to stay in northwest Ohio’s only regional transportation system.

A council committee has recommended against dropping out, and for good reason. Replacing TARTA service would cost Rossford taxpayers a lot more.

The committee looked at contracting with Ride Right — the private bus company that Perrysburg is using — and integrating its transit service with that city’s. Based on an estimate from Ride Right, such a plan would cost Rossford taxpayers about $410,000 the first year, almost double the amount local taxpayers spend on TARTA, including the $95,000 the community recovers each year through a tax increment financing district.

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Replacement service for Rossford through Ride Right would require a 4-mill property tax levy, compared to TARTA’s 2.25-mill tax. Moreover, unlike TARTA, a new private service would not qualify for state and federal grants.

Staying with TARTA would provide many other social and economic benefits to the community. Local economies are regional, as a TARTA line running from downtown Toledo to an industrial park in north Rossford shows. TARTA reported 55,725 rides in Rossford last year.

Northwest Ohio will rise or fall together. Whether a community drops out of TARTA or stays in — or whether a new member joins — affects every municipality in the region.

The debate in northwest Ohio should not be about leaving TARTA, but about getting new members to join. TARTA should serve the entire region; the location and density of Oregon and Springfield Township make them logical candidates to join the system.

A recent Brookings Institution report ranked metropolitan Toledo among the worst major U.S. metro areas for its share of jobs in neighborhoods served by public transit. In suburban Toledo, only one-third of jobs are transit accessible; that deprives businesses of potential employees and workers of potential jobs. Nearly 14 percent of Toledo households don’t have vehicles.

TARTA’s Perrysburg service ended last September, six months after voters approved withdrawing from the agency. Last month, Perrysburg voters passed a 0.8-mill property tax levy to contract with Ride Right for pint-sized transit service. But no local shuttle can provide the regional connections that Perrysburg’s — or Rossford’s — residents, employees, and employers need.

Rossford residents should let their leaders know that they want to remain part of northwest Ohio — and its regional transportation system.

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