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Published: Friday, 2/24/2012

Kaptur praises public transportation

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

After being thanked for $7.7 million in federal grants that paid for a new Toledo Area Regional Paratransit Service garage near downtown Toledo, U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) praised Toledoans for their historic support for public transportation while criticizing growing anti-transit sentiment both locally and in Washington.

“I want to thank every citizen who votes ‘yes’ on the TARTA levies,” Miss Kaptur said during a dedication ceremony for the 80,000 square foot TARPS headquarters at 130 Knapp St. “This is a beautiful building. This is a beautiful place.”

Miss Kaptur criticized an attitude she described as “Let everybody be on their own, let them float out there in society,” warning later that “there are some people that want to take us back to the 19th century” by eliminating public transportation services.

That sentiment was echoed in remarks by Therese McMillan, deputy administrator of the Federal Transit Administration, who said a bill recently approved by the House transportation subcommittee that eliminates a dedicated Highway Trust Fund account for transit threatens to “take us back to horse-and-buggy days” and reverses bi-partisan public transportation support that dates back to the Reagan administration.

“There’s no such thing as a Democratic or Republican railway, or bus way, or street. There’s no such thing as a Democratic or Republican job,” Ms. McMillan said.

Alternative transportation legislation pending in the Senate preserves federal gas-tax funding for transit and, in an initial procedural vote, received strong bipartisan support.

The deputy administrator cited the new TARPS garage’s use of “green” energy — including geothermal climate control, solar panels for electricity, skylights, and other non-traditional power sources — as “a model for the rest of the country” and public transportation in general as “vital to economic growth” and a needed alternative in times of rising petroleum prices.

After nearly 3-1/2 years of sharing quarters with its parent, the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority, the garage gives TARPS a home of its own for its 104 vehicles and 108 employees on the site of the former Page Dairy. James Gee, the transit authority’s general manager, said the building is “designed to accommodate the present and future growth of TARPS,” whose ridership has doubled since the operation was brought under direct authority management after 19 years of being contracted out.



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