PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION WRTA, Niles-Trumbull system discuss idea of transfer agreement

NILES -- Officials from neighboring public transportation systems say they are willing to meet to negotiate a way for passengers to transfer from one system to another.
During a quarterly update meeting for the Niles-Trumbull Transit System on Friday, city Engineer Mark Hess explained that he'd heard no word since March about possible transfer agreements with the Western Reserve Transit Authority.
But Jim Ferraro, executive director for WRTA, spoke up, saying the agency is more than willing to cooperate with NTTS.
"If you want to, we can meet with you," Ferraro said.
The agreements would allow passengers of one system to stop at a fixed point and transfer to the other system.
NTTS provides a demand-response transportation system throughout Trumbull County, and WRTA operates a fixed-route system throughout Mahoning County with limited stops in Trumbull.
Some details will need to be worked out, including fares, Hess said. The payments for rides on each system are different, NTTS rates' being higher than WRTA's. Hess said the two sides would need to find some way for the costs of NTTS to be absorbed or collected from riders.
Ferraro said WRTA already has similar agreements with other communities.
"We have one with New Castle that works really well, and we plan to have one with Mercer when they are up and running," he said, referring to transportation systems in Lawrence and Mercer counties in Pennsylvania.
Ferraro also noted that all of WRTA's buses are wheelchair-equipped, meaning disabled riders would have no problems transferring to buses for Mahoning County.
A transfer agreement would benefit both counties, Niles Mayor Ralph A. Infante noted.
"We want to work together and use this to the best of our abilities," he said.
The agreement would also address some of the few complaints received by Community Bus Services Inc., which operates vehicles for NTTS, Kathy Baltes, assistant facility manager for CBS, explained.
Recent survey responses from NTTS riders have asked for extended hours, especially on the weekends, she reported, as well as travel into Mahoning County.
"We have some people who use doctors in places like Austintown, and they want us to go there," she said.

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