Perrysburg residents will have the opportunity this spring to ride the bus from their door to requested locations in the city and part of Rossford.
Responding to citizen surveys and lobbying by Phil Caron, the city's representative on the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority board of trustees, TARTA plans to modify its Perrysburg service to allow the bus to deviate from its scheduled route to pick up or drop off passengers at requested locations. “If it works, we may try it elsewhere,” said Richard Ruddell, the transit authority's general manager. The Perrysburg service will begin sometime next spring.
The survey results indicate that the dial-a-ride route may be only slightly more popular than the fixed-route TARTA buses that now run in and out of Perrysburg. Of 475 people who returned a questionnaire distributed in Perrysburg's city newsletter, 140 (29.5 percent) said they would be “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to use such a service, but only 36 said they expected to ride more than five times a month.
And 296 survey respondents (62 percent) agreed with the statement, “Regardless of service provided, I doubt I or my family would ever use TARTA.” Among the respondents, 103 disagreed, while 63 were neutral, and the remaining 13 did not answer that question.
In a report to the TARTA board, Mr. Caron said he believes “service enhancements” could change Perrysburg residents' reluctance to consider riding transit. Such enhancements should include “as much flexibility as possible to make usage as close to the automobile as possible,” he said.
TARTA's initial attempt at enhancing service will be to add 20 minutes to the schedule of the No. 10S Rossford-Perrysburg route that will create time for the bus to leave its regular route in response to ride-request calls. It could deviate again to deliver a passenger to a requested destination. Each time it would have to return to the route at the point from which it left to prevent missing anyone waiting along the regular route.
James Gee, TARTA's planning director, said the on-demand service will be available within Perrysburg city limits and to the Crossroads of America district in southeastern Rossford.
Mr. Ruddell said a special phone number probably will be set up to handle ride requests for the route.
Mr. Caron said he would like to see a dial-a-ride service eventually cover a 15-mile radius of Perrysburg, so riders could travel to more distant points like St. Luke's Hospital and Toledo Express Airport without being confined to fixed-route service. In the survey, airport service was the most popular proposal.
The airport, however, lies outside TARTA's service area, as does much of the territory within a 15-mile radius of Perrysburg.