MOUNT GILEAD — Morrow County Area Transit fares are now free inside the county with a new plan for transportation in Morrow County. The circuit route with stops in Edison will remain in place through Aug. 31.
Patrons are encouraged to call in and request a ride as they need it the day before it is needed.
MCAT Executive Director Sundie Brown emphasized that the free fares are for all areas within Morrow County. There will be fares for riders using the transit system for trips outside of Morrow County depending on the length of the trip. Those riders using Medicaid services will still use vouchers for their rides.
Brown and MCAT Director, Josh Snyder met with staff from several agencies and other interested individuals on July 31 for a review and evaluation of Morrow County’s new transit system which began March 1.
The numbers show that the buses have been carrying less than one person or trip per hour and the goal is 3-5 trips per hour.
“The plan and route that is being used now just isn’t cost effective,” Brown said. “We need to look at the routes and needs of transportation for people in the county.”
Using grants from federal and state funding, MCAT began in March and absorbed the riders from MCTC and added a circuit route that includes stops every half hour in Mount Gilead, Cardington and Edison. Fares were set at $1 per trip, and this was called the “Deviated Route” since patrons could ask for stops or “deviations” off the scheduled route.
The second type of trip in the MCAT system allowed riders to schedule trips throughout the county and beyond. Fares varied depending on the distance. This service was named “demand response” and riders had to schedule these rides two days in advance.
“The reason for the meeting is that there has been a very low ridership on the circuit or deviated route, Director Sundie Brown noted. “There is more interest in the demand responseroute.”
Both Brown and Snyder said they have been getting feedback from bus drivers that they are frustrated because there are so few riders on the route, and yet they know there are many who want rides to various places in the county.
Several changes and suggestions came out of the July 31 meeting.
• All trips within the county both scheduled trips and trips on the circuit rout are free beginning on August 1st.
• The route pick-up stops on the “Deviated Route” in Mount Gilead, Cardington and Edison will remain in place for 30 days until Aug. 31. At that time all riders will need to call in by noon the day before they need transport.
• Trips outside the county will still be charged the usual fees.
• Medicaid paid trips both inside and outside the county will still use their vouchers for the service.
Meghan Taylor who is the Community Outreach person from Morrow Family Health Center said she hopes they will keep some of the pick-up points like the one by Joe’s Hardware that is used by patients at the Health Center. They are publicizing that stop as a benefit of using the Health Center.
Brown said they will very possibly keep some regularly scheduled stops, but they have found that some stops like the Court House just don’t get any riders at all. They have also had requests of several people in Johnsville and Marengo who would like to see regular stops in those towns.
Brown said they will look for clusters that are from several places in the county who have needs on the same day or at the same times. When they know rider patterns from the requests they wil evaluate again in six months to consider possible stops and regularly scheduled times.
For information, or to give suggestions about MCAT you can call Transit Director Josh Snyder at 419-864-3500.