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Council hires consultant for TARTA study

Transit alternatives sought

Following in the footsteps of its neighbor Perrysburg, Rossford City Council has decided to hire a transportation consultant to help design a replacement plan to TARTA.

With the consultant's help, Rossford officials plan to put a TARTA opt-out referendum and a new transit alternative plan on the same Nov. 6 ballot.

"We're not here bashing TARTA as much as we want to find out what our are options are," said Rossford Councilman Michael Scott, who voted in favor of hiring the consultant.

At the meeting last week, the city council voted 6-0 to pay $25,948 to Clear View Strategies, the same Pittsburgh company that Perrysburg City Council hired Feb. 7 for $38,708. Jerry Staczek, the seventh Rossford council member, was not at the meeting and did not vote.

Mr. Scott said he believed Rossford is paying the consultant less than Perrysburg does for several reasons, including the fact its population is more than three times smaller than Perrysburg's. The consultant's task will be to study Rossford's current transportation routes and determine up to three alternative plans -- which will include cost estimates -- for better service, according to Rossford city administrator Ed Ciecka.

In the past few months, Rossford city officials have talked about leaving TARTA, a bus service they argue is not utilized in the city.

Another concern is that TARTA's Call-A-Ride does not provide direct service across city lines, Mr. Scott said.

For instance, a Call-A-Ride bus can't take a Rossford resident directly to the Perrysburg's Kroger grocery store, or a Perrysburg resident to the nearby Meijer store in Rossford.

A TARTA alternative plan could include fixed bus routes in the morning and evening for work commuters, stopping at places such as Rossford's Electro Prime Group, an automotive supplier where many employees ride the bus, Mr. Scott said.

Mr. Scott added the new service could also feature a Call-A-Ride component where riders could travel outside the city limits, such as to Levis Commons in Perrysburg.

The city -- and the other TARTA members -- have a Nov. 5, 2013, deadline to put the opt-out referendum on the ballot, thanks to a provision in the state's budget bill. So far, only Perrysburg has done so out of the nine TARTA members.

The other TARTA members are Toledo, Sylvania, Sylvania Township, Ottawa Hills, Maumee, Spencer Township, and Waterville.

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