Clinton County Regional Planning Commission’s coordinated transportation plan homes in on gaps

By Gary Huffenberger -

WILMINGTON — Input at open houses held in Blanchester and Sabina regarding transportation shows an interest in public countywide transportation and a shuttle to Wilmington.

Clinton County Regional Planning Commission (RPC) Associate Director Stephen Crouch said feedback at the two village open houses produced a lot of similar comments. He said in general there was a large interest in affordable unrestricted public county-wide transportation.

Further, there is interest in a shuttle that goes either from Blanchester to Wilmington or Sabina to Wilmington.

A third thing that came out of the village open houses is a need for out-of-county transportation for medical appointments. Employee transportation also was brought up.

Crouch spoke with an employer in Sabina and she said she regularly has employees walking to work “on pretty dangerous roads that don’t have sidewalks because they don’t have transportation to get to work.” Crouch thinks the same thing can be seen in Wilmington at Rombach Avenue.

The RPC held a second planning meeting Tuesday as it goes through the process to put together a coordinated public transportation plan.

Crouch is pleased 661 people have responded to a transportation needs survey, and is also pleased that 44 percent of those respondents are older adults and 28 percent are people with a disability — two groups that often have transportation issues.

He noted survey respondents say they most often need transportation for recreational and social purposes between 6 to 9 p.m. That means if the person is a Wilmington resident, the Wilmington Transit Service will likely be closed when the person needs to return home after the evening social activity, said Crouch.

Crouch added what makes that situation even more of a problem is that social isolation is a really big issue for older Clinton Countians, something that came out in a separate age-friendly study from the Clinton County RPC.

One of the challenges identified so far in the planning process is an inability to effectively fund transit service to operate during hours of low ridership such as evenings and weekends, according to Crouch.

There has been talk in the past about establishing a volunteer driver program to fill some of the gaps, said Crouch, adding however there basically has to be a for-profit or a nonprofit that’s willing to manage it and provide liability insurance.

For survey respondents, the most common out-of-county destinations are Hamilton, Montgomery, Highland and Warren Counties.

The RPC expects to hold a final planning session April 9 to formally adopt a coordinated transportation plan and then send it to the Ohio Department of Transportation.

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.

By Gary Huffenberger