Greene CATS amending routes amid driver shortage, declining ridership

A Greene CATS public transit bus does direct drop-off and pickup at the Xenia Kroger store as part of a regular route Friday, June 17, 2022. JEREMY P. KELLEY / STAFF

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A Greene CATS public transit bus does direct drop-off and pickup at the Xenia Kroger store as part of a regular route Friday, June 17, 2022. JEREMY P. KELLEY / STAFF

Beginning July 1, Greene CATS Public Transit will eliminate weekend service, extend weekday hours and implement revised Flex Route schedules, prompted by a combination of a driver shortage, finances, and declining ridership.

Greene CATS operates two types of service — flex routes primarily in Xenia, Fairborn and Beavercreek that have defined streets and scheduled times, plus an on-demand, door-to-door service.

The service contracts with Job and Family Services, Veterans Services and smaller nonprofits, and does nonemergency medical transportation, as well as providing work placement transportation for those with developmental disabilities.

While work placement ridership has been steady, calls for medical-related transportation have declined. Ridership, and the revenue that comes with it, is down, hovering at around 70% of pre-COVID levels.

Sunday routes had been suspended since September due to a driver shortage, said Executive Director Ken Collier.

“And with telehealth, people haven’t been going to doctors appointments as much,” Collier said.

There will also be a 33% fare increase across all trips, but the fare is about 15% of what the trip actually costs.

“Most of our revenue is federal grant dollars,” Collier said. “We were fortunate enough to get emergency pandemic funding, but that’s gone now.”

Flex routes that circulate in Fairborn and Xenia, along with the ones that connect Beavercreek, Fairborn, Yellow Springs, and Xenia, will operate Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. The existing time range has been 5:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on weekdays.

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A Greene CATS public transit bus carries riders on Detroit Street in downtown Xenia, Friday, June 17, 2022. JEREMY P. KELLEY / STAFF

A Greene CATS public transit bus carries riders on Detroit Street in downtown Xenia, Friday, June 17, 2022. JEREMY P. KELLEY / STAFF

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A Greene CATS public transit bus carries riders on Detroit Street in downtown Xenia, Friday, June 17, 2022. JEREMY P. KELLEY / STAFF

The Orange Line will now begin and end at Xenia Towne Square, but will continue to connect to Fairborn at Park Hills Plaza as well.

The revisions are intended to also minimize the need for riders to transfer between buses, Collier said.

The Red Line that connects Xenia to the Dayton RTA will operate Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. It will continue to serve Wilberforce University and Central State University. Sinclair College will also remain a time point that can be accessed upon request.

One-way Flex Route rides will be $2 for riders 14 and older. Individuals 65 and over, permanently disabled, and children 13 and younger can ride for half price. Transfers are still free.

Scheduled rides, which operate “curb to curb,” will operate Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., extending evening service by one hour to accommodate retail and service workers who work evenings.

“These new schedules, hours and fees are a result of hours of planning to adjust to current levels of funding and resources,” Collier said. “The changes were all based on ridership data and input from the public, community organizations with which Greene CATS collaborates to provide service, drivers and other Greene CATS staff, and members of the Greene County Transit Board and Programs and Services Committee.”

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