Monday, Sep 25, 2017
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TARTA to begin van pool program for commuters

The Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority is working to begin a van pool program. 

TARTA General Manager James Gee informed board members of the program, which forms groups of seven to 10 people who will regularly commute together, during Thursday’s board of trustees meeting. TARTA is bidding for the program now, Mr. Gee said. 

He anticipates the bids will be returned near the end of the year.

Participants pay a monthly fee to a third-party company and arrive at a prearranged location before work, Mr. Gee said. The company provides the software and website. 

“This project will create a new transportation option for the TARTA service area that follows a model that’s used by a number of other cities across the country,” Mr. Gee said. 

It will feature trips up to 75 miles, which could include Findlay, Ann Arbor, or Detroit. Mr. Gee said there is a market for such a service because approximately 15 percent of Lucas County residents work outside of the county. 

“The reasons we’re getting into the van pool program is because it will be a new way to provide service to areas that don’t have service,” the general manager said. “Additionally, van pool miles get tied into our federal miles, which get tied into funding.”

Existing federal funds will be combined with funds participants pay, so there should be limited funds coming from TARTA, Mr. Gee said. 

Also on Thursday, a driver was given the Gold Stripe Award for assisting a woman during an assault. 

On July 26, Tina Walbolt saw a woman in the middle of the street near Jackman and Central streets, and heard her screaming for help, she said. 

Ms. Walbolt, who has worked for the company for more than three years, let the woman onto the bus as a man outside began banging on the window, she said. 

“I told her, ‘He’s not going to get you. I have a 4,000-pound bus,’” Ms. Walbolt said on Thursday. 

She alerted emergency crews. 

“I like to help people. That’s why I joined the company,” Ms. Walbolt said. 

Contact Allison Reamer at areamer@theblade.com, 419-724-6506 or on Twitter @AllisonRBlade.

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