More ads planned for WRTA

By Rick Rouan

YOUNGSTOWN — Ridership for the Western Reserve Transit Authority’s curb-to-curb service increased from 65 riders in September to 275 riders in November as the organization begins to ramp up its advertising.

The authority plans to spend about $110,000 in advertising in 2010, an increase of about $25,000 more than this year, and most of that increase will be spent on television advertisements that begin later this month, James Ferraro, WRTA executive director, told board members at a meeting Thursday afternoon.

“I think we got a message out,” Ferraro said. “We’re going to start to market this service.”

The agency began the curb-to-curb service EasyGo in September by using smaller buses to pick up residents at one location and transporting them to another. The cost is $3.50 for a one-way trip and $2.50 for seniors and people with disabilities. The service runs from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays.

The commercial, which will promote EasyGo, will feature one of the agency’s driver and a real passenger, Ferraro said, and will air on local TV stations.

“I think the TV is going to be a powerful message,” Ferraro added.

The agency will pay about $1,800 each month to air the commercials, he said. “It’s going to catch on,” Ferraro said.

The curb-to-curb service was one of the pledges WRTA made when it campaigned for a countywide 0.25-percent sales-tax increase, which was approved in November 2007.

Through October, the agency had received more than $3.6 million from the sales tax, treasurer Marianne Vaughn said. The agency budgeted that it would take in about $4.5 million this year.

The agency has a $8.9 million total budget, Ferraro said.

“Without that quarter-cent sales tax, I don’t think the transit authority would be in business,” he said, again thanking voters.

The agency also offers a Special Service Transit service for seniors and people with disabilities who live within three-quarters of a mile of the area served by regular bus routes, Ferraro said. The fare for that service is $2.50.

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