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Schedule information about TARTA's scaled-back service plan that takes effect Dec. 27 should be available by telephone and through the agency's Web site by the end of next week, but paper timetables won't be distributed until the week before.
James Gee, the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority's general manager, said issuing the paper timetables sooner than that would confuse some riders who might mistakenly think they are already in effect.
"We always create confusion if we put them out too early," Mr. Gee told the transit authority's board of trustees.
Getting timetables out too early wasn't a problem, though, the last time TARTA significantly remade its schedules. The problem with its schedule changes in late August, 2008, was that paper timetables weren't available to riders for two weeks afterward.
Dee Talmage, a transit authority trustee, urged TARTA officials to avoid making that mistake again and to publicize the service changes as much as possible.
"People are busy this time of year, so you've got to keep pushing" the information, she said.
As it was last year, TARTA was cutting and consolidating service to close a gap in its budget. The problem last year was skyrocketing fuel costs. Now, while fuel prices have retreated, the transit authority is cutting operations by 12 percent to offset reduced state funding and an anticipated decline in property-tax revenue.
The new cuts include reducing Sunday and holiday hours, running fewer buses during middays, evenings, and Saturdays, and eliminating four commuter-express routes that were popular when fuel prices soared but whose ridership has plunged this year. According to Mr. Gee, the cuts will reduce TARTA's expenses by $1.8 million.
Bus service along Chrysler Drive in North Toledo and to the Amtrak station at Martin Luther King, Jr. Plaza in Toledo will cease, as will Route 34K serivce along Key Street and Dussel Drive in Maumee.
"We're not picking anybody up," Mr. Gee said yesterday to defend the elimination of service to Chrysler's Toledo North Assembly Plant and the train station.
The cuts take effect Dec. 27, rather than Jan. 1, because the earlier date was already set as the day bus drivers get new work assignments, Mr. Gee said. The bidding procedure for those assignments began yesterday, and most of the new schedules are set, he noted, but some details may still change before Dec. 11 - so that's when riders who want a leg up on the new schedules should start checking www.tarta.com or calling the authority's customer service line, 419-243-RIDE (7433).
Brochures summarizing the changes already are available.
Most notably, evening line-up service will begin with downtown Toledo departures at 5:30 p.m. and every 80 minutes thereafter until 10:50 p.m., instead of starting at 6:10 p.m. and running every 70 minutes. On Saturdays, line-up buses will leave downtown every 80 minutes from
7:30 a.m. until 10:10 p.m., while on Sundays, line-up buses will leave downtown at 8, 9:20, and 10:40 a.m.; noon; and 1:20, 5:20, 6:40, and 8 p.m.
There will be no service on Sunday afternoons between the end of trips by the 1:20 p.m. departures and the inbound starts for buses feeding the 5:20 p.m. line-up. On six major holidays - New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas - buses will leave downtown every 80 minutes from 8 a.m. until 2:40 p.m., with no service for the rest of the afternoons and evenings.
The reductions will affect the availability of suburban Call-A-Ride and Toledo Area Regional Paratransit Service buses. TARPS rides will not be available after 3 p.m. on holidays.
During the board meeting yesterday, the transit authority trustees by acclamation reappointed President James Bohn and Vice President Bonita Johnson.
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