RTA changes plan, won’t eliminate key bus route after Trotwood officials object

TROTWOOD — In a reversal of a recent decision, the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority will not eliminate the only traditional bus route that serves a key area of Trotwood from downtown Dayton.

RTA had announced in late September that Route 14 — which serves Free Pike, Trotwood-Madison High School and a key area of new development on Trotwood’s Main Street — would no longer run north of downtown Dayton as of Oct. 16.

The change was to be part of a larger transit system redesign, RTA said Sept. 20, and would “offer a more flexible way to travel” with the implementation of the agency’s Connect On-Demand ride request service.

However, the agency announced Wednesday that the Route 14 reduction has been nixed, and the current route will remain as is.

RTA CEO Robert Ruzinsky said Wednesday that the reversal decision was made after agency representatives met with Trotwood officials, who had described the decision to eliminate the section of Route 14 — which has a stop on Main Street near the newly built Trotwood branch of the Dayton Metro Library — as hurried.

City officials had expressed concern about the way the change would affect Trotwood residents and those in surrounding communities. Trotwood is in the midst of a development boom, with multiple projects underway on Main Street, and accessibility is a priority, says City Manager Quincy Pope.

Currently under construction on Main Street is the new Goodwill Easterseals facility as well as a Montgomery County municipal courts building, and plans are in place for a senior living housing development in the area.

In touting the new courts building in Trotwood, Montgomery County government officials last month went out of their way to say the facility would be more accessible via public transportation, as it has an RTA stop located directly in front of it.

“I’m concerned about the impact on the community and having access to public transportation to an area that has a courthouse that’s going to serve 12 different jurisdictions in Montgomery County,” Pope had said last week, adding that he thought there should be more discussion between stakeholders prior to the implementation of any changes to routes.

According to RTA’s Jessica Olson, the proposed changes were based off travel trends from a 2018 study of existing routes, called “What Drives You?”

“We spoke to area community leaders, businesses, gave presentations, and did mapping and studies to determine the optimal system to serve Montgomery County currently,” Olson said Tuesday, noting that RTA’s routing design hasn’t changed in more than 20 years.

Reasons for reversal of the proposed change also include the shortage of licensed commercial truck drivers for hire, RTA’s Wednesday statement adds.

“While it is a simple fact that RTA is operating under a very challenging shortage of CDL (commercial driver’s license) drivers, it is also clear that we have been provided with new information that leads us to take a step back and study this information and the potential impact on important community development projects in the Trotwood area,” Ruzinsky said. “RTA will continue efforts to hire and train CDL drivers and study ways to provide needed public transit services using small vehicles that do not require a (CDL).”

Though no changes will be made to RTA routes at this time, customers within designated zones do still have the option to use the free On-Demand service to schedule rides from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m., seven days a week, by booking with the Lyft or Uber app, or by making a reservation with RTA customer service. This free service is provided within areas where fixed-route service is either unavailable or limited.

According to Olson, customers would need to download the Lyft or Uber application onto their phone, then when they open the app, a code will populate automatically if they are within one of RTA’s Connect On-Demand zones, allowing the customer to book a trip free of charge within that zone. The next available car and driver will then come to the customer’s location to pick them up.

“(Customers) can also call our call center (at 937-425-8300) to book the trip for them or to schedule a regular, recurring trip,” Olson said.

For additional details and to see a map of RTA’s four designated Connect On-Demand zones, visit www.iriderta.org/ride/alternative-transportation-options/demand.

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