TRUMBULL COUNTY Officials to vote on transit

Fewer people than expected have been calling for rides.
NILES -- Trumbull County commissioners are expected to vote today to contribute $151,000 to the Niles Trumbull Transit system if it is approved for a second year.
It is uncertain where commissioners will get the money, or if there will be a program to fund.
The fate of the transit is expected to be decided in a few weeks. In the first year, about 20,000 people received one-way rides, significantly fewer than the 50,000 projected, said Niles city engineer Mark Hess.
"As we keep operating, more people will use it," he said. "Most of the people who are using it are the people we thought we would have. People who can't drive, people who are disabled, people who are elderly."
The buses are operated by CBS Buses under a one-year contract. Rather than operate regular routes, buses are dispatched to people who call ahead of time for rides.
A subcommittee of the Eastgate Regional Council of Governments will meet Monday to evaluate the program and decide whether to recommend that a second year of Federal Transit Administration be applied for.
Pledges from local sources, including Trumbull County, must be collected in advance of the federal grant application, Hess said.
The system needs $621,000 to contract for services for another year.
Communities' contributions
Hess said the federal grant would provide $250,000 and the rest would come from Trumbull County and seven communities that pledged amounts last year based on their populations. The bill to Trumbull County is $151,000; Niles, $20,932; Cortland, $6,830; Vienna, $4,000; Howland, $17,500; Liberty, $13,500; McDonald, $3,500; and Weathersfield, $8,677.
Commissioners are expected to authorize their contribution today.
"The way it is worded, if the county does not have the funds we will not make a contribution," said county Administrator Tony Carson.
Trumbull County officials are expecting a $5 million to $7 million revenue shortfall next year, as a result of the expiration of a 0.5 percent piggyback sales tax earlier in 2004.

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