ODOT announces $105 million in public transportation grants: Seneca-Crawford Area Transportation nets $2 million


By Russ Kent - Galion Inquirer



COLUMBUS — Public transportation agencies across the state will soon benefit from millions of dollars to help with operations and improve mobility throughout Ohio.

Seneca-Crawford Area Transportation (SCAT), was awarded a $1,009,000$ federal grant, to be paired with this grant from Ohio of 993,394, for a total of $2,002,394.

SCAT serves Seneca and Crawford counties by providing the public a safe, reliable, affordable, and efficient public transportation system.

“These funds will have a tremendous impact across the state in helping public transit providers maintain and expand the safe, dependable, and cost efficient service that our riders use and depend on every day,” said Ohio Public Transit Association President Carrie Woody.

Mary E. Habig, executive director of Seneca-Crawford Area Transportation, has not been notified yet as far as 2020 grants that may have been awarded, but did comment on how important grants are to the program.

“SCAT was awarded $724,000 from an Ohio Transit Partnership Program, $310,000 for a bus storage building for the Crawford County Fleet; $250,000 for operational costs for fixed routes in Tiffin and $164,000 for two buses for the fixed routes,” she explained. “This was a total surprise as this was competitive funding. All transit agencies in Ohio competed for this funding, including Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, etc. For Crawford and Seneca County to get this amount is a true blessing.”

Habig continued: Chuck Dyer, public transit administrator at ODOT, and his team have made a lot of progress in the past couple years. They are committed to giving the people in Ohio the best public transportation system possible.Now, to move forward, not only does it take commitment, and, partnerships, it takes funding.

“This past year, the Ohio Legislature heard a lot of testimony from the Office of Transit, Ohio Public Transit Association, Transit Directors and public transit users. Receiving these funds is a testament of our state representatives, particularly, State Rep. Bill Reineke. He truly cares, not only for the people in the Counties he represents, but to all of Ohio.”

Reineke represents all of Sandusky County and most of Seneca County.

Among other things, the funding announced Monday will provide service hours and route expansions to address workforce development initiatives for those needing transportation for job training, new employment, or re-entry into the job market.

“This unprecedented support for public transportation allows both ODOT and public transit agencies to leverage federal grant dollars along with state funds to provide reduced fares to seniors and individuals with disabilities,” said Dyer, administrator of the ODOT Office of Transit. “This also enables transit agencies to provide an environment for increased ridership, regionalization and coordination, alternative fuels, healthcare access, and economic mobility.”

An additional $35 million of Federal Transit Administration funding is being awarded to support the operation of Ohio’s 38 rural transit systems.

SCAT is a Rural Transit System.

According to the SCAT website, http://senecascat.org/, it is a door-to-door, curb-to-curb transportation organization that provides local as well as out-of-county trips to the public of Seneca and Crawford Counties. We provide transportation for all needs such as medical, social, shopping, bank service, veterinary, etc. SCAT schedules transportation on a first come, first served basis.

The Crawford County Council on Aging, a Specialized Transportation Program, received two grants from the state, for $74,000 and $582.

Other examples of projects awarded include:

  • The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) is replacing decades-old rail cars, rehabilitating rail track, and performing preventive maintenance for bus and rail operations.
  • The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) in Columbus is expanding its micro-transit service to the City of Dublin for its workforce shuttle to meet first mile/last mile needs.

ODOT quadrupled the state investment into rural counties. This allows for expansion of service into three counties that previously did not have public transit service: Adams, Coshocton and Highland counties. This additional funding will also allow the Rural Public Transit Systems to put resources toward improving healthcare initiatives and workforce development.

Nearly $70 million will come from the state general revenue fund. These funds were approved by the Ohio General Assembly in the most recent two-year state transportation budget. This money is not generated by the state motor fuel tax.

“We are grateful that lawmakers recognized that public transit is an important mode of transportation for getting Ohioans where they need to go,” said Ohio Department of Transportation Director Jack Marchbanks. “These funds will help dozens of local transit agencies provide safe and reliable transportation for many Ohioans.”

ODOT is awarding:

  • $45 million for Ohio Transit Partnership Program to rural and urban transit agencies
  • $17 million for the 27 urban transit agencies in Ohio using a formula-based allocation
  • $4 million for the 38 rural transit systems to assist with matching federal dollars
  • $2 million for the Elderly & Disabled Transit Fare Assistance Program for reimbursement to rural and small urban transit systems
  • $2 million for the Specialized Transportation Program to support transportation to seniors and individuals with disabilities.

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By Russ Kent

Galion Inquirer