BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — Waterville residents can now catch a ride on TARTA Flex for $3.00 each way, and within the next few weeks, the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority is expected to announce the return of the Muddy Shuttle to take baseball fans to downtown Toledo’s Fifth Third Field on select days.
Laura Koprowski, chief executive officer for TARTA, and Kelsie Hoagland, a Waterville resident and TARTA board of trustees member, spoke to Waterville City Council on May 8 to explain how TARTA Flex is serving Waterville and the surrounding communities.
“We’re expanding locally to go into areas that may not align with traditional routes or those that need larger buses,” said Koprowski, who arrived at the meeting in the smaller TARTA Flex vehicle, which seats three adults and one wheelchair. The larger Flex vehicle seats up to eight plus a wheelchair.
Customers can request a ride by using the TARTA Flex app, on the website at tarta.com or by calling (419) 382-9901. Trained TARTA drivers will pick up and drop off customers at prescheduled times between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. on weekdays or 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on weekends.
The Flex will also deliver riders to connection points to pick up routes to other parts of the city, Koprowski said. Rural and suburban communities are often transportation deserts, she added, noting that even getting an Uber, Lyft or taxi ride can often be difficult. The Flex program gives customers a reliable method of getting to medical appointments, entertainment, shopping and other destinations for a low cost.
Hoagland noted that the vehicles are the result of voter-approved funding as well as an Ohio Department of Transportation grant.
The Flex is a pilot program that had a soft opening in January, and already it’s provided 253 rides in Waterville, including 99 in April alone.
In a few weeks, Kop-rowski said an announcement would be made about the Muddy Shuttle, which was a longtime fixture in Waterville, providing a ride to Mud Hens games. That will return with service available based on the days and games recommended by Mud Hens staff.
“As a TARTA rider, I’m very excited about the new service. I know it took a long time to get it to this point,” council member Mary Duncan said. “You’ve hit a home run here.”
During the meeting, trustees also:
• Listened to Tree Commission member Peg Ryan outline the Urban Forestry Management Plan, which identifies activities and tree planting and care schedules to be carried out by the Public Works Department over a several year period. The Tree Commission worked with urban forester Stephanie Miller to create the detailed plan, which was approved by council. Waterville has been named a Tree City USA city for 27 years and received a Growth Award for continuous improvement from the Arbor Day Foundation for 11 years. Council member Todd Borowski credited the hard work and knowledge of the commission members.
• Heard resident David Brenner thank council members for their hard work. He said he supported them even when he didn’t agree with their decisions.
• Listened to resident David Christie ask why a street lamp on Farmview hasn’t been repaired since it was damaged a few years ago. Duncan noted that the city has had challenges in getting Toledo Edison to make repairs, but Mayor Tim Pedro promised that it would be fixed soon.
• Learned that Borowski and resident Patti West are organizing a committee to provide input and volunteer time to beautify the two Dutch Road roudabouts. The county will install two-color stone and a weed barrier while volunteers will plant shrubs and annuals. For information email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
• Heard administrator Jon Gochenour said he’s been working with the county to find a location for the recycling bins that have been removed from the Kroger parking lot.
• Learned that a grand reopening of Waterworks Park, which has had drainage and ball diamond improvements, will be held on Wednesday, May 17 at 6:00 p.m. with a girls softball game and free hot dogs, and desserts available.
• Heard council member John Rozic say that on May 8, 1843, the first canal boat arrived in Waterville.
• Learned that a community cleanup day is planned for Saturday, May 20 at Waterworks Park, to plant flowers.
• Encouraged residents to participate in a Memorial Day service at Wakeman Cemetery, 621 Farnsworth Rd., on Monday, May 29 at 11:00 a.m.