Thursday, March 17, 2011
If Gov. John Kasich’s state budget is approved in coming months, the Western Reserve Transit Authority will lose out on about $200,000 that helps elderly and disabled riders.
“The only place they could have hurt us, they did. Quite frankly that’s the only real money of substance that comes from the state of Ohio,” said James Ferraro, WRTA executive director.
The executive budget released Tuesday proposes a $2 million reduction taken from the eight largest transit systems in Ohio. Those systems are Columbus, Cleveland, Dayton, Toledo, Cincinnati, Youngstown, Akron and Canton.
About $1.8 million of that was used by those systems to subsidize peak-time elderly and disabled transit fares.
The remaining $200,000 in reductions will eliminate the Urban Formula participation by the eight largest urban systems.
Federal regulations state that qualifying riders (disabled and elderly) still must be offered a discounted rate during non-peak times. WRTA will continue those rates — 60 cents per person — throughout the day on main bus routes, Ferraro said.
“We don’t see any reason to hurt individuals that are going to be hurting as it is,” he said.
WRTA’s regular adult bus fare is $1.25.
“The state in the past had helped a little by providing reimbursement based on ridership numbers. That’s gone,” Ferraro said.
WRTA is primarily funded through a Mahoning Countywide sales tax that generates about $5.5 million annually, he said. It also receives less than $100,000 from the state for operating expenses, Ferraro has said.