SIDNEY — Shelby Public Transit has extended its service hours by an hour and a half each day through August.
Transit Director Ron Schalow reported the extension during a meeting of the Shelby County Transportation Planning Committee, Thursday, March 29, at the Amos Memorial Public Library, here.
“A local manufacturer came to us to ask if we could do a 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. shift,” Schalow said. Regular hours are 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. The transit agency extended its hours to 6:30 p.m. on a trial basis at the manufacturer’s request, but the transit is available to anyone through those extended hours, not just employees of the company who requested the extension.
In other business, committee chairwoman Michelle Caserta, mobility manager of Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley, distributed a survey the committee developed to identify the transportation needs of Shelby County residents concerning employment.
The survey can be completed online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ShelbyTransportation.
The committee learned about a ride-to-work program in operation in Miami County.
Tim Krug, director of Rides to Work, based in Troy, said the project began five years ago after a benefactor tired of hearing agency representatives note transportation as a problem at meeting after meeting of the Miami County Continuum of Care. The owner of Troy Ford donated $40,000 and two used vans to make affordable transportation to work available to homeless and low-income residents.
Krug described how the program is managed and advised that if something akin to the Miami County operation were to start in Shelby County, it should start small.
Rides to Work is now funded by the United Ways in Troy and Tipp City, the Troy Foundation and the Miami County Foundation. It provides rides for free for two weeks, for $1 per ride for nine months and for $2 per ride, thereafter, for Troy and Tipp City residents to places of employment in Troy and Tipp City. Plans call for expansion into Piqua beginning in July. The nonprofit agency provided 6,000 rides in 2017.
“I would see (such a program) as a supplement, to fill in the gaps (in transportation provided by Shelby County Transit),” said Schalow, director of Shelby County Transit.
The committee discussed the need for memoranda of understanding between Shelby and its contiguous counties to make inter-county transportation available. Such a memorandum has existed between Shelby and Miami counties for about five years. State rules currently prohibit public inter-county transportation except for medical or emergency reasons.
Caserta noted that if counties develop memoranda of understanding, ODOT usually approves joint efforts.
Gary Ledford, director of Champaign County Transit System, and Schalow both said an agreement between the two counties would be beneficial to their riders.
“The traveling public doesn’t care about crossing county lines. We tend to build walls where we should be building bridges,” Schalow said.
“We’re receptive to go anywhere,” Ledford said.
State agency mandates concerning reimbursement rates that differ from county to county create the biggest obstacle to establishing inter-county transportation.
Alexandra Growel, a transit coordination planner with the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission, discussed an Ohio Department of Transportation pilot program to put a nine-county region together to create a transportation plan.
The Greater Region Mobility Initiative comprises Shelby, Miami, Darke, Champaign, Preble, Greene, Clark, Logan and Montgomery counties and is hosted by the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission. Growel’s office is in Sidney within the Catholic Social Services offices.
“ODOT is testing how a regional model might work,” said Kjirsten Frank Hoppe, of the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission.
Caserta reported that she would like to provide transportation information at community events. To request a speaker or to invite participation in a forum, health fair or the like, call her at 937-575-7115.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.