By Marie McCain
The Cincinnati Enquirer
BATAVIA - Notices to Clermont County bus riders that service would end March 31 are untrue, county and Metro officials said.
Last week, some riders on routes in Clermont County were greeted by typed messages on buses stating that because of funding problems, service would be cut. Metro spokeswoman Sallie Hilvers said Monday that the "fliers" are erroneous.
"Metro, which operates express routes in Hamilton, Butler and Clermont counties, says population shifts registered in the 2000 Census have changed the status of Metro's service area.
As a result both Clermont and Butler counties are now included in Metro's "urban" zone.
That means that those counties are eligible for federal transit funding that was previously split only between Metro and TANK, Northern Kentucky's bus service.
Clermont County is eligible for about $500,000 of the money previously received by Metro, money that had previously been used to subsidize Metro routes in Clermont.
Melissa O'Farrell, mobility coordinator for Clermont Transportation Connection (CTC), the agency that oversees county public transportation, said the county would lose about $800,000 in rural transit funding, which Clermont needs to operate its services.
CTC provides rural service - door-to-door transportation - seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Metro provides express service from and to areas in Amelia, Eastgate/Union Township, Loveland and Milford.
"Right now as a rural system we receive operating money and capital money. The operating money, we use to pay drivers and buy fuel. The capital money allows us to purchase the vehicles," O'Farrell said.
Clermont County Administrator David Spinney said discussions are continuing about how the changes will affect riders.
"The way we operate our system is going to change," he said.
"But our goal is to provide the best service possible to our citizens given the financial constraints we are currently under."
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