Niles mayor asks Girard to join others in system

Girard's initial share for a countywide transit system would be $11,000.
GIRARD -- Niles Mayor Ralph Infante Jr. has asked the city to become part of a countywide transportation system but received no promises.
The city is now served by routes operated by the Western Reserve Transit Authority that basically run along U.S. Route 422.
The city also operates a door-to-door van for senior citizens.
Infante, who is leading the transportation effort, said Niles, Howland, Vienna and Liberty have agreed to pay $1 per resident as the local share.
Girard's share of becoming a member of Trumbull County Transportation would be $11,000.
Financial troubles: Infante told members of city council's finance committee and other lawmakers Monday that he is aware of Girard's financial troubles. The city is expected to end the year $1 million in debt.
Councilman Reynold Paolone, D-1st, committee chairman, made Infante no promises, saying the issue would have to go before council.
WRTA receives about $670,000 annually in federal funds to operate its routes in Trumbull County.
The Niles mayor said he hopes to get $240,000 in local funds and leverage it for federal transit money. "I want to take a shot at federal funds for busing," he said.
Infante has proposed that in addition to the $1 per resident to join the system, fares would be charged. He has proposed $3 each way within a community, $6 from one community to another, and $9 round trip outside the county -- although the actual fares may be less.
Fare subsidies: Jean Segall, head of customer relations for Community Bus Services Inc., which is helping Infante, said one way to decrease the cost to riders is for the city to subsidize fares.
One proposal was to subsidize only senior citizens' fares. "We want to assure the service [to seniors] remains the same," Mayor James Melfi said.
Paolone and Councilman John Moliterno, D-at-large, agreed it is important that senior citizens continue to be served.
Segall said the door-to-door service would also serve disabled and others who don't have transportation.
James Ferraro, WRTA director, said before the meeting that putting together a countywide system will be difficult because there's "not a lot of trust between communities."
Ferraro said increased taxes for capital improvements for such a system haven't been discussed. He said the federal government won't approve funding unless there is a long-term local financial commitment. That commitment would probably be made with increased sales or property taxes.

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