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Published: Saturday, 8/3/2013

TARTA bus schedule to change for Sundays

No afternoon hiatus, but evening runs stop early

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

TARTA buses will operate straight through the afternoons on Sundays but stop running earlier in the evening under a plan announced by the agency’s general manager.

James Gee, the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority’s general manager, on Thursday told trustees the 2¾-hour midafternoon hiatus in bus schedules has been a problem for people who work on Sunday mornings, while Sundays between 7 and 9 p.m. have some of the lowest bus ridership.

The new schedules and other changes in TARTA operations will take effect Aug. 25.

The transit authority dropped service between 2 and 4:45 p.m. on Sundays, as well as after 3:15 p.m. on six major holidays, in late 2009 as part of a 12 percent service cut.

“What we found from our passengers is that they hated it,” Mr. Gee said of the Sunday gap, relaying rider complaints that they could take the bus to work in the morning, but then had no way to get home without waiting for hours.

Under the new schedules, Sunday service will operate continuously between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. for both TARTA and Toledo Area Regional Paratransit Service buses.

Buses will continue to run later into Sunday evenings when there are Toledo Mud Hens or Toledo Walleye home games or evening concerts to which the transit authority offers service.

The 2009 service cut, made in response to declining revenue from property-tax levies in TARTA’s service area, also included lengthening the time interval for off-peak “lineup” service from 70 to 80 minutes.

Mr. Gee said the lineup interval will be restored to 70 minutes Aug. 25 by dropping parts of the Downtown Loop from many buses’ routes. Instead of having all routes stop at all five stations on the Loop, the only stations served by every bus will be Park station at Erie Street and Madison Avenue and Government station on Jackson Street between Erie and Huron streets.

TARTA has proposed eliminating the Downtown Loop entirely in favor of developing a central bus station on Jackson between Huron and Superior streets, but that plan is still under discussion.

Mr. Gee said those and other “minor” service changes do not reach the level for which a public hearing is required, but the transit authority will set up a booth at Park station with information about the changes, along with posting signs at downtown stations and placing flyers aboard buses to alert riders.

One route change he mentioned specifically is extending the weekdays-only No. 3 Crosstown bus to serve the new Veterans Affairs clinic on South Detroit Avenue near Glendale Avenue. The No. 3’s current southern terminus is the University of Toledo Health Science campus, formerly the Medical College of Ohio.

Earlier during its meeting, the TARTA board approved hiring The Collaborative of Toledo for engineering, design, and management of a solar-energy project at the transit authority’s main garage, 1127 W. Central Ave.

The company was one of four that submitted proposals for the project to develop solar electricity on the garage roof. TARTA has a $1 million federal grant for the project, to which it must provide a $250,000 match.

The Collaborative is to be paid up to $100,000 for its work. Mr. Gee said the solar system is to be operational within a year.

Contact David Patch at: dpatch@theblade.com or 419-724-6094.



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