Toledo Public Schools look for transportation alternatives as TARTA contract expires

Published: Mar. 4, 2021 at 7:12 PM EST
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Toledo Public School students who use TARTA to get to school may not be riding a TARTA bus next school year.

The 13abc I-Team has learned the contract between the two will expire at the end of the school year and TPS is already looking at alternative plans.

There are several different options about what those plans could be and they still could include TARTA.

TPS already has buses, they are used for elementary students but will plans for high school students require more buses, more drivers and more resources for TPS?

More than 7000 Toledo public, parochial and charter high school kids are issued TARTA bus passes to get to school. Starting in August of 2021 that might not be the case. TARTA is not renewing this contract when it expires.

“TARTA is very committed to the community and everyone in the community. Not an easy business decision, legal and regulatory,” said Kim Dunham, TARTA CEO.

A TARTA spokeswoman says one of the issues is that federal regulations don’t allow a public transit service to run lines only for schools. Those lines must be available to the general public. For years TARTA has run lines designed for schools and were difficult for the public to access.

“They have made it clear on what services they would be providing. I think I’ve got an idea as to what that looks like from our perspective on some of those services, some of the limitations on the services they think they can provide from us,” said TPS deputy superintendent Jim Gant.

Gant says the district has already received requests for a new transportation plan. He’s still reviewing them, trying to see what transportation will look like next school year.

“We always thought there would be ways to make efficiencies. If we’re not improving, we’re not doing anything. We’ve always had our eye on making some improvements to how we do transportation,” said Gant.

TARTA is offering to help with transition, whatever that eventually looks like.

“Maybe one of the creative ways we can all work together is we’ll end up having excess drivers when the TPS contract ends and maybe, Jim, you and I can work together about transitioning opportunities for those individuals to transport the students,” said Dunham.

“I think it’s incumbent upon us to make sure we take care of our students. Whether it be TARTA doing whatever they do, it really is my responsibility as deputy superintendent to service our students and families better each and every day,” said Gant.

These changes will not affect this school year. Whatever the kids are taking this semester, they will stay in it. All changes, whatever they are, are set for next school year.

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