Patrons and employees of numerous Sylvania businesses and institutions would be stranded if the city opted out of the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority, the city's economic development director said in a report presented to city council Tuesday night.
"I would say the general feeling from the entities I talked to was very supportive of having a public transportation system," Bill Sanford said, citing interviews with Lourdes University, Flower Hospital, Sylvania Senior Center, and Sylvania Municipal Court representatives.
TARTA and its Toledo Area Regional Paratransit Service, which provides door-to-door rides for people whose disabilities preclude use of traditional transit service, "are very important services in our community," he said, citing as an example the 34 city residents who use TARTA or TARPS to get to the senior center for daily meals.
Mr. Sanford's report also noted that the Ability Center of Greater Toledo is a busy TARPS destination for clients and employees and said one-third of clients at the Josina Lott Residential and Community Services Center rely on public transit.
Discussion among city council members and Mayor Craig Stough then focused more on what might happen if neighboring Sylvania Township, whose trustees voted in June to put a TARTA-withdrawal question on the Nov. 6 ballot, pulls out.
"If Sylvania Township does vote, it's going to limit the access. TARTA will not go into Sylvania," Mr. Stough said.
Councilman Mark Luetke suggested the city administration meet with TARTA officials to assess ways to restructure service to suburban areas.
"I think we should challenge TARTA in this new environment and find a way for us to take our TARTA tax money and allocate it a little differently," he said.
Councilman Sandy Husman expressed worries about what might happen if the township opts out.
"I'm very concerned that Sylvania Township residents know what's happening to them, if they vote no," she said.
"I'm hoping that TARTA is doing some sort of publicity — mass media — that will tell our friends in Sylvania Township what they're going to be missing if they vote this down."