The new air-conditioned exhibit hall was a hit during opening day at the Montgomery County Fair’s new location in Jefferson Twp. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

RTA bus riders will have tougher time getting to county fairgrounds

The Montgomery County Fair opened today at its new site in Jefferson Twp., and fair-goers who have traditionally ridden RTA buses to the old Main Street fair location in Dayton will have a tougher time getting there.

The nearest regular RTA bus stops are about 0.9 miles away from the new fairgrounds at Arthur O. Fisher Park on Infirmary Road, according to RTA’s website, meaning a bus rider would have to get off on West Third Street or Dayton-Liberty Road, then walk 15-20 minutes along two-lane roads with no sidewalk.

RELATED: What you need to know about the county fair

Spokeswoman Jessica Olson said RTA customers can now take a bus to the Westown Hub, then schedule a free “RTA Connect” trip to the fairgrounds entrance at no cost. That involves calling RTA or using the 937Connect feature on the Lyft app to arrange for a ride. She said RTA worked with multiple riders on that issue Monday.

“It is free, and they can book that trip in advance,” Olson said. “If they know what time their bus is going to be at Westown, they can call us today, tomorrow, whenever in advance and schedule for an on-demand vehicle to be there to pick them up and take them to the fairgrounds, and schedule to take them back to Westown. They don’t have to go there and wait.”

Olson said RTA previously had a route closer to the new fairgrounds site, but it was eliminated in February in a set of budget cuts, because of limited ridership in that area – 10 or fewer riders per day.

2017 STORY: Montgomery County Fair finally finds new site

John Yancik, president of the Agricultural Society of Montgomery County, said the group will look into the possibility of adjusting RTA coverage for Fair Week next year, slightly similar to what RTA does for the Dayton Air Show. “But we didn’t make it happen this year,” he said.

Derrick Foward, president of the Dayton Chapter NAACP, said he grew up just a few blocks from Fisher Park, playing basketball, football and baseball there. He said he hopes the lack of RTA access was not intended as a “deterrent” to keep any citizens being able to enjoy the fair.

“We just really hope that this was an oversight, and that they will take immediate, swift corrective action to ensure all citizens will have an opportunity to enjoy the new fairgrounds,” Foward said.

TIMELINE: Step-by-step look at how the fair changed sites