Public forum to address transportation

Input needed from stakeholders

By Patricia Ann Speelman -

SIDNEY — The Shelby County Transportation Planning Committee wants to hear from the public.

It will host a public forum, Sept. 19, from noon to 2 p.m. at Safe Haven, 1101 N. Vandemark Road. Advance registration is not required; however, those who register by Sept. 12 will be served a light lunch, and free transportation to and from the meeting will be available to them. To register, call 937-575-7115 and leave a message.

Participants will “give input into the Shelby County Human Services Coordination Plan that is currently being reviewed. This would be an opportunity for the public to discuss their needs concerning transportation. We are required to review and update the plan annually,” said Committee Chairwoman Michelle Caserta, mobility manager of Catholic Social Services/Passport.

In December 2017, the Ohio Department of Transportation approved a four-year, public transportation plan for Shelby County. It had been compiled by the committee, comprising local social service representatives. The committee now serves as an advisory group, as efforts are made to reach each objective.

“It’s important that people know this is ongoing,” Caserta said in December. “We need the public to give feedback. This is just the beginning. Community input is important if this is going to work.”

At the Sept. 19 forum, the goals of the plan will be reviewed. Input from people who use public transportation and from those who need transportation that isn’t yet available will help the committee to revise the goals, if necessary.

The four goals and their strategies are as follows:

• By the end of 2018 and then ongoing, the committee and other leaders will educate the residents of Shelby County regarding public and coordinated transportation so that they can make informed decisions about transportation options here.

Strategies call for Shelby Public Transit personnel and the mobility manager to make presentations to social and civic groups, local industries and organizations; place articles in the Sidney Daily News; distribute Shelby Public Transit brochures throughout the county; conduct focus group meetings to get feedback; showcase transit vehicles at community events and promote the RideLink call center.

In addition, the Shelby Public Transit will implement an annual “Try the Transit Month,” during which fares will be reduced, and social media will be used to inform the public about transportation opportunities and issues.

• By the end of 2020 and then ongoing, Shelby Public Transit, the mobility manager and Fresenius Medical Care will expand current transportation services in the county to meet public needs by filling gaps for people who need transportation during peak, early morning and evening hours, and on weekends and holidays.

To do so, they will create a survey to identify the need for expanded hours, track unmet needs, expand the Shelby Public Transit fleet and hire additional drivers, if such a need is identified.

• By the end of 2020 and then ongoing, Shelby Public Transit, the mobility manager and an as-yet unidentified coordinator will provide transportation that supports employment and nonmedical trips in the county to provide people the opportunity to secure and maintain employment when transportation is a barrier and to support those who have to pay for private transportation to get to work or medical appointments.

Strategies call for the coordinator to work with human resource departments of local industries to identify why employees can’t get to work, to investigate options for car-pooling and ride-sharing and to explore the possiblibity of employers’ providing tokens for rides on Shelby Public Transit vehicles.

In addition, Shelby Public Transit and the mobility manager will develop feeder routes to and from surrounding counties and establish bus stops in those counties. They will also research funding options.

• By the end of 2021, the mobility manager and the Shelby Public Transit manager will increase out-of-county service to Dayton, Columbus and Lima for people who must get to appointments in those cities.

To do so, they will reduce duplicaton of services through multi-county cooperation by utilizing dispatch software to coordinate schedules and maximize capacity on vehicles.

Input needed from stakeholders

By Patricia Ann Speelman

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.