Sunday, December 05, 1999

Buses roll to Warren today


Idea is to take workers to jobs

BY TANYA ALBERT
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Buses start rolling from downtown Cincinnati to Warren County today, offering a better link between potential employees in the inner city and suburban companies scrambling for workers.

        Bus services connecting downtown Cincinnati with Butler County and Sharonville start Monday.

        The new $1.4 million “reverse commute” program, called JobBus, is an effort to give people who can't afford cars more flexible transportation to good-paying jobs that have moved from the city to the suburbs.

        Metro, the Butler County Regional Transit Authority (BCRTA) and Warren County Transit are attempting to reverse a trend that's being seen nationwide: Suburban employers have plenty of jobs to fill, but traditional public transportation routes don't get people from the center city.

        “By no means will this solve the work force problem in Warren County,” said John Harris, president of the Mason-Landen-Kings Chamber of Commerce. “But it offers a new opportunity to get people into the work force.”

        Here's how it will work: Metro buses from downtown Cincinnati will take employees to Fairfield, Sharonville and the areas around Mason, Lebanon and Deerfield Township.

        From there, employees can board vans to take them to work. Employees give drivers a time to pick them up at the end of the day to return them to Metro buses heading downtown.

        It's an expansion of services that have been seen among the counties in the past few years. It will offer more routes and times to get people to and from jobs. Flexibility, such as weekend service and service for people working second shift, are key to attracting employees, organizers say.

        West Chester and Springdale, two other booming job centers along the beltway, declined to join. Participants had to help pay for the system.

        Half of JobBus' cost is being paid for with a more than $724,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation's new Job Access and Reverse Commute Program. About a dozen other local sources, including the state, counties, transit systems and municipalities, will provide the rest of the money.

        Circulator buses will run weekdays in Butler County, including second-shift hours. They also will run on weekdays in Sharonville. In Warren County, buses will run 365 days a year.

        There is no charge for the JobBus circulator van service. Riders will only pay the regular Metro or Blast (BCRTA) bus fare.

        The new service will mean time or route adjustments for Metro routes 10, 25, 46, 62, 70 and 78; routes 4, 17 College Hill; and Combined Clifton, 19, 20, 32 and 51. The route 71/72 bus will have weekend service and the reverse commute route has some minor changes.

        Money is in place to keep JobBus running for a year. Greater Cincinnati transit agencies will apply jointly for another federal grant to continue the program the following year. If the service is popular, it could be continued through a private and public partnership after federal money runs out, regional planners say.

        For more information, call the JobBus information line at 731-5030. Ham ilton residents should call the Butler County Regional Transit Authority at 785-5237. For more information about Metro route adjustments, call 621-4455 weekdays from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. or visit Metro's Web site at www.sorta.com.

       



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