Regional Chamber, WRTA Survey Residents on Transportation Needs
The Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber is partnering with Western Reserve Transit Authority to survey businesses and riders to explore the need for, or interest in, public transportation services through Trumbull and Mahoning counties.
The survey for residents can be taken at SurveyMonkey.com/r/wrta-residents. Businesses should complete the survey at SurveyMonkey.com/r/wrta-business. Both surveys can be found at RegionalChamber.com/wrta-surveys.
As businesses face workforce challenges, those seeking employment and other services face issues of their own, with access to public transportation often at the top of the list, according to a release from the Regional Chamber. With much of the private investment throughout the Mahoning Valley occurring farther out in the counties, expanding public transportation services is an ongoing need.
“Almost 50 percent of our riders are going to work or from work,” said Dean Harris, WRTA executive director. “We see the need every day. But it’s important to gather the data with research like this so everyone can see it. We appreciate the Chamber’s help with this effort.”
Access to public transportation is also vital to the chamber’s efforts in supporting the expansion of local businesses and attracting new economic development opportunities to the Mahoning Valley, said Sarah Boyarko, chief operating officer and senior vice president of economic development.
“Companies need workers, and being located on a bus route has become increasingly important over the years as decision-makers plan their future investments,” Boyarko said. “WRTA is part of nearly every project we support.”
Input gathered will be considered in WRTA service expansions, the creation of new routes and strategy for seeking grants, according to the release. Individual survey responses are confidential, but the results will be shared once all responses are tabulated.
“WRTA provides a necessary resource throughout the county,” Mahoning County Commissioner Anthony Traficanti said in the release. “The Mahoning County Commissioners support the surveying process of our residents and businesses to ensure their needs are being met. Residents need jobs, and employers need workers. Not having access to public transportation service limits our opportunities.
Since March 2020, limited service in Trumbull County has run with grant funding from the Ohio Department of Transportation. As those grants expire, WRTA reported in early August that those four routes – #70 Southeast, #72 Southwest, #74 Elm and #75 Northwest – would be discontinued at the end of the month.
Route #28, known as the Warren Express will continue to operate the old route to Lane Drive, as will Countywide – WRTA’s scheduled curb-to-curb service.
WRTA officials had hoped to place a 0.25% sales tax issue on the ballot this fall to continue and expand service in Trumbull County and Warren, but that effort was rejected by Trumbull County Commissioners.
According to the chamber’s release, the four routes that were halted were somewhat hindered by the pandemic, but still had a “good number of riders and continues to grow.” To keep the service in place, Trumbull County officials will use the data from the survey to determine whether to join in funding the cost.
“The Trumbull County Commissioners support this process and encourage all residents and businesses to participate in the public transportation survey,” Commissioner Mauro Cantalamessa said. “The results will be an important part of our decision-making process.”
Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.