YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The Western Reserve Transit Authority (WRTA) now offers hourly service for certain routes in Mahoning County.
For people who rely on the bus to get around town, the expanded service fits right into their schedule.
“I use the WRTA as much as possible, Monday through Saturday,” said Nicole Stewart, of Youngstown.
The hourly service for ten routes began Tuesday.
“It’s going to give them an opportunity to take care of their needs,” said Executive Director James Ferraro.
He says the hourly service will be more helpful for people to find jobs, shop and get medical attention. The extended service will also be more convenient if someone misses the bus.
“It actually helps me out because now the bus that I normally catch comes right past my house,” Stewart said.
Hourly service adds 56 more trips and expands service on Saturday. Ferraro says WRTA’s Saturday hours before the extended service were not competitive or fair.
“Bottom line is, if you work five days a week and on your particular route on Saturday there are only four trips, what the heck can you do? You gotta catch a bus at 7, wait until 11, then again at 2 and the last one at 5:30.”
Ferraro says WRTA hopes to gain 38 new buses, 28 of which have already been picked up. Additional operators have also been hired.
WRTA had to cut service a while back for budget reasons, but now it’s in a place where it can make changes.
“We got back to where we were at one point…We got into a situation about eight, nine years ago to where funding was difficult to maintain,” Ferraro said. “We felt that we owed that based on the support of the sales tax and the support of the entire county, and we went with that.”
WRTA says ridership is growing. It’s seen an increase for almost seven years, just missing 1.6 million riders last year.
“We think we mean business by that. People find employment, they shop, so transit does mean business. It helps an area to grow and it sustains that kind of growth,” Ferraro said.
Anyone can ride the bus at rates as low as 60 cents per trip. The newly revised route schedule is available on WRTA’s website.