David Burnham, maintenance foreman for the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority, ex- plains the workings of the bus garage to Transit Windsor representatives during their tour.
Toledo is believed to have been the first city to establish a “sister-city” relationship with a foreign counterpart - Toledo, Spain. Now the city's transit authority has established a similar first.
A nine-member delegation from Transit Windsor, the transit authority in Windsor, Ont., toured Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority headquarters yesterday and lunched with local officials.
Heads of the two systems' boards exchanged gifts, while Richard Ruddell, TARTA's general manager, displayed framed copies of reciprocal resolutions the two boards adopted earlier this year proclaiming TARTA and Transit Windsor to be “Sister Systems.”
“This is an opportunity to look and see what others are doing, to look at the best practices of both systems,” said Penny Williams, Transit Windsor's general manager.
Mr. Ruddell said he had checked with the American Public Transit Association, a trade group, and found no indication that any other transit systems have established similar relationships.
“Once people realize what there is to gain from this, I think it's going to grow,” Mr. Ruddell said.
TARTA owns 171 general-service buses and operates in Toledo and eight surrounding communities, while Transit Windsor has about 100 vehicles and stays within the Windsor city limits. Officials from the two transit agencies said they have much in common, including population, auto-industry prominence in their communities, and the same union representing their bus drivers.
One Transit Windsor issue that TARTA doesn't face is the international border crossing into Detroit. The Windsor visitors said that because of heightened security, they were delayed by about 90 minutes entering the United States yesterday, and that their bus route between downtown Windsor and Detroit routinely has encountered similar delays since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
But traffic backups at the Ambassador Bridge and Detroit-Windsor Tunnel have meant additional business for Transit Windsor. The agency has contracted with four Detroit hospitals to provide park-and-ride shuttles for nurses who commute from homes in Windsor. Each shuttle run takes 50 cars out of the backups and allows the nurses to relax during what otherwise might be a tension-building wait, Ms. Williams said.
During the luncheon, Transit Windsor chairman Peter Carlesimo presented TARTA president Francis Frey with a crystal etching of a loon, one of Canada's national symbols, while Mr. Frey gave Mr. Carlesimo a commemorative clock.
Mr. Ruddell credited Windsor officials with helping Toledo land the Sister Cities International 2002 convention. The transit agency representatives discussed the potential for operating buses from Windsor to Toledo during the event.