Lynette Frabotta said voters need to approve a 0.25 percent sales tax increase in November to get Lorain County Transit rolling again.
When hired as an LCT bus driver in 2001, Frabotta said there was Monday-through-Friday service in Oberlin from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., plus a three buses that drove passengers — primarily Oberlin College students and faculty — to Cleveland Hopkins Airport. But budget cutbacks over the years have drastically reduced service.
LCT now has just four fixed routes, all in Elyria and Lorain, and six buses.
It also provides Dial-A-Ride service in Oberlin on Mondays and Thursdays. Passengers call for service or have pickups scheduled in advance.
Frabotta said most of her customers are elderly and need rides to medical appointments or to run errands such as trips to Wal-Mart for groceries. She said her passengers depend on the buses, but LCT needs to provide more service.
“There’s just so many places we don’t go,” Frabotta said during a break Thursday.
Frabotta said she understands some voters may wonder whether buses would be full if the increase were approved. She said when people see the mostly-empty buses they question whether they’re needed.
Frabotta attributed the lack of passengers to long waits for buses, few routes, and high fares. A full daily fare for regular service is $4.10 and a monthly pass is $164. A full fare for Dial-A-Ride is $9.25.
Public transit advocates have asked county commissioners to dedicate the tax to transit. But commissioners, citing projected budget deficits, are leaning toward a 50-50 split of the approximately $9 million that would be generated annually if the tax were approved. Frabotta said a split is better than nothing.
“We would at least be getting some of the buses back on the road. That would be awesome,” Frabotta said. “It’s just whether the darn thing will pass.”
Evan Goodenow can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @GoodenowNews on Twitter.
Evan Goodenow | Oberlin News-Tribune Lorain County Transit driver Lynette Frabotta says county voters need to improve a 0.25 percent sales tax to help restore bus service.