TARTA continues to change. Over the past 10 years the transit agency has introduced Call-A-Ride, Muddy and Walleye Shuttles, began using biodiesel, brought TARPS in-house, and most recently, opened a dedicated paratransit operations facility.
TARTA is currently testing Wi-Fi on its ten newest buses with open network connections requiring no passwords.
Free on-bus Wi-Fi connections are labeled tarta001 through tarta010 and can be connected to smart phones and other mobile devices by simply selecting the open network in the device control panel; other network connections showing up on mobile devices such as bus153, bus820, etc. are password-protected as they are part of the fleet’s Automatic Vehicle Location system.
Hybrid Electric Buses
The first week of January 2013, TARTA added 10 new 35-foot buses to its fleet; two of them use a diesel-electric powertrain. The two hybrid buses –which are 30% more fuel-efficient than their diesel-only counterparts–were acquired through the Ohio Department of Transportation’s Clean and Green Program from federal funds. This $1.2 million investment by ODOT is part of the overall $40 million 21st Century Transit Partnerships for Ohio’s Next Generation program.
2013 also brings two, new technology-based projects online and continues to develop major changes for downtown Toledo.
Scheduled to begin in fall of 2013, computerization of Call-A-Ride scheduling and the expansion of the geographic service zones by reducing the number of zones from seven to three and enlarging the size of the zones served by this on-demand service.
Begun as a demonstration project in 2002 in Perrysburg, TARTA’s Call-A-Ride has been successful since its beginning and now serves all suburban communities in TARTA’s service area. During 2012, Call-A-Ride provided 115,370 passenger trips.
A new scheduling software package and necessary hardware for some buses has been purchased at a cost of $500,000 with 80 percent of the cost coming from Federal Transit Administration funds and 20 percent from TARTA property taxes.
Instead of drivers within each Call-A-Ride zone receiving cell phone calls directly from riders, all calls for service will go to a centralized Call-A-Ride number. The new calls will be sent to a computer on the bus for drivers to follow. This computerization will enable the following Call-A-Ride service changes:
Creation of larger service zones with unrestricted movement between the communities in the zone, including:
- A zone covering Sylvania, Sylvania Township, Ottawa Hills and Spencer Township
- A zone covering Maumee and Waterville
- A zone covering Rossford, which is TARTA’s largest Call-A-Ride zone, with 2011 ridership of 40,000 based on employment-destination ridership
Enable an expansion of scheduling opportunities, including:
- Subscription service enabling rider pick up at set times and locations on a continuing basis, e.g., going to work, grocery shopping, etc.
- Advance appointment booking, instead of calling the day service is needed
- Notification calls, when the Call-A-Ride bus is near your pick-up point, will be available in 2013
Training for TARTA employees on the new service is scheduled to begin in June. It is expected training and changes will be completed by year’s end.
It should be noted the expansion of Call-A-Ride service zones to encompass all locations within Lucas County is not possible, since not all portions of the county are within TARTA’s service area. This change was to be considered along with changing TARTA’s funding from property taxes to a sales tax. However, the proposal was blocked from the 2010 General Election ballot by two member communities.
Automatic Vehicle Locating (AVL) Passenger Information System
TARTA is phasing in the Automatic Vehicle Locating (AVL) Passenger Information System for regularly scheduled service, enabling riders to track a bus’ location in relation to a specific stop at all times via computer or mobile devices.
Riders of TARTA’s regularly scheduled service now will be able to tell in real time when the bus they are waiting for will arrive at their stop. Also, if there is an interruption or delay in service, the rider can receive a text with current information specific to their bus.
The information will be accessible via updates to TARTA’s Web site through global positioning satellites.
Furthermore, TARTA is developing a free, downloadable application that will permit riders with mobile devices to also access this information.
Message boards have already been installed downtown as well as at The University of Toledo Transit Center which will display expected arrival times at those specific locations. It is hoped additional locations will be possible in coming years.
As with Call-A-Ride, this system has been in the planning stage for several years and is being financed by an 80 percent Federal Transit Administration grant and 20 percent from TARTA property taxes.
Downtown Terminal and Transit Loop
Planning and design continue for a new downtown bus terminal near Jackson and Summit Streets, as first discussed with the Downtown Toledo Improvement District at its November 2010 Annual Meeting. The creation of this single terminal will mean all buses coming into the downtown area will stop at various locations leading to and from the terminal.
The 1980-vintage Downtown Loop with its multiple stations and dedicated traffic loop will be replaced when the terminal is completed.
The year 2012 marked the 150th anniversary of public transit in the Toledo area. TARTA, now in its 42nd year, continues to pay tribute to the men and women who have given their talents and their sweat to help people move about throughout the area.
As we are well on our way into 2013, we will continue to look to the future and to strive to provide the best and innovative service efficiently and economically.
The Authority believes the projects outlined on this page, along with others in initial development, will enable us to meet our goals.
We urge you to contact your community’s representative(s) to TARTA’s Board of Trustees to discuss TARTA’s activities more fully. If we can be of assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us at 419-245-5223. A member of the TARTA staff will be contacting you in the fall to arrange a time to come to your community and discuss TARTA and its plans for the future in greater detail.