WILMINGTON — State transportation officials descended upon Wilmington Friday — not to put up orange barrels and close lanes, but to bring public transit into the 21st century.
Wilmington’s public transit will receive a grant for less than $169,000 to implement a computerized call and dispatch system to replace its current use of paper logs.
The upgrade is expected improve efficiency and shorten wait times for those who use the Wilmington Transit System.
The grant comes to Wilmington by way of the Ohio Department of Transportation as part of Transit Tech Ohio, a program funded by a federal, $6.8 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant.
The project, according to an ODOT press release, will help Ohio’s 34 rural transit systems operate more efficiently and expand broadband access in the state.
The money will be used to help rural transit agencies purchase hardware and software that allows them to schedule and dispatch transit vehicles.
“The lack of these upgrades is leading to inefficiencies – inefficiencies that cost time and money and ultimately underserve the people who rely on the vital services of rural transit,” said ODOT Assistant Director Jim Barna.
Vehicles throughout the state will also be equipped with GPS, Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) systems, tablets, and mobile data terminals, according to ODOT. All of the upgrades will promote the ability for multiple agencies to share services.
“The expected funds from this grant will allow Wilmington Transit to put in place a call and dispatch system that will greatly improve efficiency and help shorten wait times which has been our main obstacle to providing the superior service we strive for,” said Wilmington Department of Public Transportation Director Phillip Floyd.
Transit Tech Ohio will also seek to expand access to broadband by funding public-private partnerships that optimize transit operations through equipment acquisitions, the installation of technology on existing towers and structures owned by the state and new tower construction when necessary.
“Rural communities continually struggle to obtain the same level of access to resources that are available to urban and suburban counterparts,” said Lindsay Shanahan, executive director of Connect Ohio. “We are excited about all parties helping to expand broadband access, adoption, and use throughout Ohio.”
In increasing broadband access, the program hopes to improve effectiveness of existing businesses and educational institutions, including public schools and small colleges as well as enhance the quality of life for rural Ohioans.
The project is expected to take about 38 months to complete, according to ODOT.
The Ohio Department of Transportation contributed to this report.
Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.