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Transit board predicts 36K rides for year

WARREN — Trumbull County Transit is projected to give almost 36,000 rides this year, county Transit Administrator Mike Salamone told commissioners Wednesday.

Salamone held a meeting with Trumbull County commissioners to share data on rides for the first five months of the year and outline a tentative three-year transit plan that includes possibly using grant money to hire a mobility manager and rebranding under a new name.

Commissioners Mauro Cantalamessa and Frank Fuda expressed their support for the plan, which would have county transit increase its on demand rides to 50,000 to 60,000 next year.

Commissioner Niki Frenchko did not attend the meeting.

DATA

According to data shared by Salamone, Trumbull County Transit’s on demand service has provided approximately 10,400 rides to seniors, 2,900 to people with disabilities and 1,600 rides for the Trumbull County Board of Developmental Disabilities (TCBDD) in the past five months.

Of those rides, there were “five or six” complaints, Salamone said — three of which were all from one person, and one that was a complaint from a contracting company about a rider who continually didn’t show for rides.

Fuda and Canatalmessa agreed that with almost 15,000 rides so far this year, five or six complaints wasn’t bad.

Salamone said there have been 115 no-shows — when the rider cancels within two hours or does not come to the door — and 566 instances where service was canceled prior to two hours before pickup.

There have been 19 denials of rides, mostly from the contractor Comfort Caraavan, with some denials for riders in wheelchairs, who can only be accommodated by certain vehicles, he said.

“I don’t know if we really have enough wheelchair capability,” Salamone said.

He said though he did not have exact numbers, more than 90 percent of pickups have been on time. A pickup is considered on time if it is within 29 minutes of the scheduled time — 30 minutes is considered late, Salamone said.

Following the trends of the first five months, Salamone projected that this year Trumbull County Transit will operate a total of 24,979 rides to seniors, 7,010 rides to people with disabilities and 3,847 rides for TCBDD.

PLAN

Salamone’s three-year transit plan calls for soliciting requests for proposals for two-year plus one contracts, meaning the contract would be guaranteed for two years with the possibility of adding an extra year, for service starting in December 2022 or January 2023.

He projected the cost of operating next year at $1.1 million to $2.4 million. The current cost is $1,160,121 for about 40,000 on demand rides for seniors and people with disabilities. The $2.4 million would account for about 60,000 rides and include the general public, which is a population not currently served by Trumbull County Transit.

“Commissioner Frenchko keeps bringing that up, and it’s true. Right now we’re not transporting any general public,” Salamone said.

Trumbull County Transit receives $450,000 in funding from the senior levy and $120,000 from the TCBDD. Salamone has applied for grants through ODOT that, if awarded, could bring in $600,000 for rides for seniors and people with disabilities and $100,000 for service to the general public.

Salamone also suggested contracting with Western Reserve Transit Authority for an additional 30,000 to 40,000 rides on about four fixed bus routes. WRTA’s current Trumbull County routes are operated with state funding that will run dry later this year, according to Salamone.

Commissioners previously have chosen not to join the WRTA, which would have involved passing a 0.25 percent county sales tax.

Salamone’s plan shows $200,000 of the cost of contracted fixed routes coming from 5301 grant funds through WRTA, with an equal $200,000 match from the county or with the help of local stakeholders. Salamone suggested American Rescue Plan funds as one possible avenue for that funding.

REBRAND

Also included in the plan is a facelift for the local transit authority, which has in the past drawn criticism. Salamone said he would like to change the name from Trumbull County Transit.

“There’s a lot of negativity with that (name), and we know it,” Salamone said.

Fuda suggested having residents call or write in with name suggestions while Cantalamessa suggested partnering with local high schools to host a naming competition — options that would avoid hiring a marketing firm.

Along with the rebrand, Salamone said he wants to work with local governments to add links on their webpages that connect to the Trumbull County Transit’s website.

Finally, Salamone is seeking a grant to create the position of mobility manager to coordinate services. The county has been without a mobility manager since 2019, when Michael Verich resigned from the position under the Trumbull County Transit Board after months of frustration between both parties.

The new position would be funded by a grant with a 20 percent local contribution. The county would have to reapply for the grant each year, Salamone said.

Rides

Transit rides in the first five months of the year

Seniors: 10,408

Disabled: 2,921

TCBDD: 1,605

Total: 14,934

SOURCE: Transit Administrator Mike Salamone

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