NILES Funds sought for county transit

Girard, Cortland and Champion haven't decided whether to participate.
NILES -- Mayor Ralph A. Infante Jr. plans to apply this month for federal funds for a Trumbull County transportation system.
Liberty, Howland, Vienna and Niles are among the communities that have signed on to contribute $1 per person in those communities. Warren City Council rejected the plan, and Girard, Cortland and Champion haven't decided.
Infante, spearheading a plan for a demand-response, countywide transportation program, said he is hoping for at least $100,000 from the communities. Girard's contribution would be $11,000. If Cortland council members vote to participate, its contribution would be $6,830. Champion's portion would be $9,700.
"Other communities can join later if they want," he said.
County match: County commissioners have pledged up to $120,000 as a match for the system. If the contributions from the communities hit the $100,000 mark, the county would contribute $100,000.
Infante says that would work as a match to get $200,000 in state funds, which would be used to leverage $600,000 in federal transportation funds.
All of the federal transit money available for Mahoning and Trumbull counties, about $2.56 million this year, goes to Western Reserve Transit Authority.
Infante would file the application with the Federal Transportation Administration in Chicago. It also would go to Eastgate Regional Council of Governments, which must certify the application, verifying the city meets requirements. The federal agency may review the application for up to 120 days.
Criteria: The city must meet a series of criteria to apply for federal money. Criteria include local funding, a security policy, a drug-free policy, plans to meet Americans with Disabilities Act and Equal Employment Opportunities Commission requirements.
Infante doesn't view those criteria as an obstacle. The city's program to transport senior citizens within the city, which has been in place for the last few years, already meets the ADA and drug-free policy requirements, he said.
The mayor said unions from WRTA could object to the applications, but he doesn't think the Trumbull County plan is a threat to WRTA.
"They'll work hand-in-hand," Infante said. "They're fixed route. We'll be demand response."
If the application is approved, a committee will be established with representatives from each of the communities involved. The committee will develop the bid specifications for the contract to run the system.
The rates are estimated at $3 each way within a community; $6 each way from one community to another; and $9 round-trip outside of the county. But those could change depending on the agencies that get involved.
The county has been without a countywide system since the end of last year when commissioners decided not to renew their contract with Trumbull Area Coordinated Transportation.

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