The Lucas County Green Party urges Sylvania Township voters to cast a vote in favor of public transportation and defeat the ballot measure that would remove the Township from TARTA membership.
The Green Party has always supported mass use of public transportation, such as TARTA, as a means to reduce traffic and greenhouse gases from tailpipe emissions that would otherwise further pollute our air. Mass transit also saves money for those in Toledo suburbs who prefer not to pay for gas, or are unable to. Because unemployment and foreclosure are on the rise, even in the suburbs, the numbers of these people are increasing. Toledo really likes to think of itself as a major city, but in major cities, mass transit is not merely the last resort for those who don’t have other choices. It is the preferred method of transportation for those who do.
The American Public Transit Association has concluded that the availability of public transit in a community raises that community’s property values. In analyzing whether TARTA’s costs outweigh its benefits, the Township has not taken into account that without TARTA, all Sylvania Township businesses will be inaccessible to people throughout the Toledo area who depend on TARTA, so those businesses will lose revenue.
TARTA is the only mode of transportation for many, including those unable to drive because of their medical conditions or disabilities. Public dollars will have to be spent other ways to accommodate them. Medicaid-funded cab rides to doctors are much more expensive per ride than TARTA trips. For some of these people, loss of transportation will mean loss of their jobs, leaving them dependent on public assistance (which is also being cut), and perhaps without even this, since public assistance agencies will typically not determine that someone is unable to work on the basis of their not having transportation to a job. The most severely disabled of these people may be forced back into institutions (which are not cost effective) or in some cases, even wind up in the legal system due to not getting services.
Sylvania Township is home to some services for people with disabilities, including the Zepf Center; a Harbor Behavioral office; the Autism Society of Northwest Ohio; at least one Lucas County DD contractor; and at least two law practices that emphasize helping people with Social Security Disability applications.
The Green Party is usually wary of privatizing essential public services, but the Sylvania Township TARTA vote is not just a choice between publically or privately-run transit. The Sylvania Township leadership admits that they are “not up to” creating a separate transit system for the Township. The choice this November for Sylvania Township voters is a choice between having public transportation in the Township or not.
Perrysburg has already opted out of TARTA and are struggling to create a privatized system, but even if most suburbs that opt out of TARTA ultimately do this, a patchwork collection of different transit systems, one for each sub-jurisdiction of the Toledo area, will not be more efficient than the regional system, which is what TARTA is. People from Toledo or Sylvania will have to travel by TARTA to Maumee or Rossford, and then wait for the next Perrysburg bus trip. People with severe disabilities – including poor to no vision, and cognitive impairments that cause confusion about surroundings ̶ will be left alone to wait for their connection to the Perrysburg system.
When the state law was changed to allow jurisdictions to opt out of TARTA, it was the result of successful lobbying by some of the suburban councilpeople. Given that they have some influence over the state legislature, why didn’t they use that influence to the state to create a fairer method of funding TARTA? Such as a sales tax? Bearing in mind that the member jurisdictions’ governing bodies choose TARTA board members, they could choose to appoint to the board riders who have a more vested interest in the system. And try to convince the state to make board members’ terms shorter, so that cities can replace unaccountable ones more easily.
To Learn more about the Green Party:
Headquarters: 137 N. Michigan Street (Third Space). Join us for a meet-and-greet Sunday, October 14, 3:30 to 5. Have snacks and tell us about the issues you care about!