Booking issues to be resolved

Transit system

WARREN — The owner of the company contracted to provide discounted rides to the public for the Trumbull County Transit system said he is working to ensure all of his employees and the public know the guidelines for booking a ride after a recording surfaced showing potential riders were being told they have to book rides five to seven days in advance.

The service is supposed to schedule rides if the caller requests one 24 hours before the ride is needed, and up to seven days in advance. However, some callers are being told they have to call five to seven days beforehand.

Terry Thomas, owner of Community Bus Services, said he was unaware his employees were telling callers they have to request the rides so far in advance and is working to correct the issue.

Isabella Nagy called the service Feb. 10 to schedule a ride to work because her family was having car problems. She asked for a ride the next day and was told the schedule for the next day was already “preset.”

“We don’t do the same day or next day rides. We usually have to have almost a week in advance,” said the woman who took her call, according to a recording of the call.

Nagy asked if a few days notice would suffice.

“They like a full week if you know that, or at least five days,” the woman said.

Nagy said sometimes she only learns her work schedule a few days in advance.

The woman apologized and said the scheduler is only there on Mondays and so a ride couldn’t be scheduled.

Thomas said a scheduler is there five days a week and said perhaps the woman on the phone doesn’t normally take those kinds of calls and didn’t realize she was giving Nagy the wrong information.

“We’ve had some trouble ensuring the public knows it’s up to seven days in advance, not a minimum of seven days in advance. I didn’t realize some employees did not realize that either, and we will make sure they do know in the future,” Thomas said.

Carl Clemens, a member of the Trumbull County Transit Board, which oversees the system, is also a user of the service because of a disease that is destroying his eyesight. He said the issue isn’t a new one, and he has battled the issue himself.

Clemens said he has been told he has to call five days in advance, or three days in advance. He said the system wasn’t working for him because he uses it to get to work. The company made special arrangements to keep him scheduled for pickup and dropoff three times a week to get to and from work.

“They worked it out for me. But the system shouldn’t favor me. Everybody should have to do the same thing. It is inconsistent, which leads to confusion in the public and keeps some potential riders away from the system,” Clemens said.

Clemens said people without transportation options of their own need a taxpayer-funded system they can rely on, and most people don’t know seven days in advance when they need a ride, but do know the day before. He said he believes the system would reduce the instances of “no shows” and cancellations, and increase ridership, if riders could call 24 hours in advance.

Thomas said that is the way the system is intended to work and he will ensure it does in the future.

Nagy is the daughter of Niki Frenchko, who serves on the Trumbull County Senior Levy Advisory Council, which is deciding how much of the senior levy money to turn over to the transit system that provides $2 or $1.50 rides for seniors, depending on which community they live in.

Frenchko said she wants to see the transit system adopt a more transparent and consistent way of scheduling rides and said users of the system should be able to schedule rides online.