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TARTA’s Big Plans for the Future

Sojourner’s Truth Staff

Kimberly Dunham, newly appointed general manager of the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority, certainly has a lot on her plate – passing levies, upgrading the fleet, updating the technology, and, most importantly, convincing the community at large that TARTA is a valuable asset and worth saving.

Given the tumult at TARTA that she encountered, it was necessary to hit the ground running – a tax renewal levy is on the ballot for March 17, the surrounding communities need to be convinced about the virtue of investment in public transit and people everywhere need to find their way back on board.

So, on Dunham’s wish list is a goal to “get everyone thinking about working towards the future – to break the paralysis and get some synergy and energy going,” she says.

As desperate as the TARTA situation might seem to naysayers, Dunham is optimistic and “has a great hope for the future.”

First task, among so many tasks that might be considered to be priorities, is getting the renewal 1-mil property tax levy passed in the March 17 primary. The 10-year renewal is absolutely vital for TARTA to maintain its current level of funding.

At the same time, a lot of buses are getting old and need to be replaced and there is a fundamental lack of modern technology in the fleet to meet the needs of riders. For example, fare boxes need modern technology, says Dunham, to accept cash, cards, smart phone payment.

The challenges are in building community support, upgrading the product and raising more operating and capital monies, all in the immediate future. Fortunately, Dunham knew what she was getting into before she accepted the position. She’s spent the past 30 years in mass transit systems in Connecticut, the last five and a half years leading New Havens’ systems and before that in Hartford. She speaks of the value for a community that a good mass transit system can deliver – the economic development; the mobility for the community for work, for food, for education; the enhanced quality of life.

That added value of a good mass transit system is the message she is delivering to the various neighborhoods that comprise the transit system. Dunham, faced with some immediate needs also has to look long-term, especially as far as raising funds is concerned. The long-term plan is to place another levy on the ballot during this upcoming November general election.

This levy request will ask the voters to approve a replacement – a replacement for the property tax levy presumably approved in March – for a sales tax levy. To place such a request on the ballot, TARTA needs the support and approval of all of its member communities and, over the past few years, that approval has been lacking from the Sylvania Township Board of Trustees, who haven’t even allowed the voters in their township to voice their opinions.

Should the trustees in Sylvania Township relax their opposition, the sales tax has a reasonably good chance of succeeding, according to polls taken months ago. Should the sales tax levy pass, TARTA can look forward to the major capital improvements to move the system into the modern age.

For the Toledo area community, the benefits of a well-funded TARTA system are boundless, says Dunham. At the moment, for example, TARTA and Toledo Public Schools are trying to reach an accommodation in which high school students who hold TARTA passes permitting  them to get to and from classes, can also use such passes for any and all occasions – sports, recreation, community activities and so forth.

That’s among the quality of life issues that TARTA can bring to the community, says Dunham.



Copyright © 2019 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 02/13/20 09:08:03 -0500.

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