WILMINGTON — At the Wilmington Transit System (WTS), there’s interest in exploring the feasibility of extending passenger service to residents around Clinton County.
A year ago Clinton County Community Action announced Allison Katter had been hired as Clinton County mobility manager, a new local position made possible by a community transportation initiative and an Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) grant. In her role, she’s responsible for increasing mobility and access to transportation for all residents of Clinton County.
The first meeting in 2021 of the Coordinated Transportation Council was held virtually this week. Katter and new WTS Director Larry Dale Bennington spoke about the desirability of expanding public transit within the county.
Bennington said, “I feel there’s a lot of [transportation] need in this county outside the city, and it’s something that needs to be done for our elderly folks, our veterans, and [people with] special needs.”
For her part, Katter acknowledged that if WTS decides to take on an expanded service area, it is “a big daunting task” and certainly won’t happen overnight. Moreover, a lot of things will have to come into play for WTS to be able to do it, she added.
For one thing, funding support from ODOT will certainly be needed to provide a countywide transportation system, Katter said. And because of the timing of the grant funding cycle, expansion of public transit here is not likely before 2023.
Bennington was on the meeting agenda and shared his work background virtually with attenders. He started work at Airborne Express in 1990 where he was a ground operations instructor for quite a few years. Then prior to WTS, he was the Little Miami Schools bus transportation director, a field he was in for about a dozen years.
That work gives him experience with routing and software and people skills, he said.
Bennington commented there is a lot that goes into expanding public transit service, including identifying the specific route stops and making sure the service is coordinated properly to involve the most passenger use.
The city of Lancaster in central Ohio is “a great example of how we could do this; they’ve done a very good job in doing exactly what we want to do,” spreading out to the rest of Fairfield County.
By way of background, a Coordinated Public Transit-Human Services Transportation Plan for Clinton County was developed in 2019, the first of its kind for the county.
The 80-page plan document, which can be accessed on the Clinton County Regional Planning Commission website at www.clintoncountyrpc.org , identifies priorities of local unmet mobility needs. The number one priority is: Affordable out-of-county transportation options for passengers not covered by contract or other funding sources.
The number two priority of local mobility needs is: An unrestricted, publicly available countywide transportation system.
In something of a nutshell statement, the plan document summarizes: “Transportation is a critical component of the communities in Clinton County. Transportation provides access to jobs, education, health care, human services and allows all community members, including older adults and people with disabilities, to live independently and engage in community life.”
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.