fear North Olmsted may lose buses
By Jeff Gallatin
Published Nov. 17, 2004
are saying the North Olmsted Municipal Bus Line may have won the
battle to keep the 53 bus route but could still lose the war to
retain its independence.
T. Musial, council Streets and Transportation Committee Chairman
George Nashar and Ward 4 Councilman Dean McKay all said they have
heard that NOMBL could be forced to merge into the Regional Transit
Authority when NOMBL's current five-year pact with RTA expires Dec.
31. The officials said that their understanding is that there may
not be sufficient funds for NOMBL to allow it to enter into another
All of the city
officials said they would not let NOMBL, which has been in existence
since 1931, go without a fight.
be very unfortunate," Musial said. "We've not had a clear-cut answer
about this, but this is something we wouldn't let go through quietly.
We are in the process of trying to meet with the appropriate officials
about this situation."
RTA Chief Executive
Officer and General Manager Joe Calabrese said Monday no decisions
have been made, but added that RTA is continuing to try and contain
costs for the transit system.
are being forced to watch their budgets and spending, and we're
doing the same thing," Calabrese said. "We're watching the budget,
like not increasing our fares for 13 years and instituting cost-saving
measures throughout the system."
recently indicated that they were trying to cut costs, including
in suburban areas. Calabrese said the situation has changed for
both RTA and NOMBL since RTA was formed in 1975.
"When RTA was
formed in 1975, there were 13 city or smaller bus service lines,
and within a short time after that 11 of those 13 went into RTA,"
Calabrese said. "North Olmsted and Maple Heights continued.. In
North Olmsted's case, they have signed five-year contracts to sub-contract
service for RTA and the current one expires Dec. 31. We are in negotiations
to see what happens beyond Dec. 31."
he thinks Calabrese is more focused on other projects and costs
for RTA and is not paying attention to NOMBL's track record.
"He's more concerned
with getting his projects done and he's doing that by cutting funds
to other areas like NOMBL," Nashar said. "He doesn't seem to be
concerned that it would affect our community."
McKay said NOMBL
has traditionally been successful.
"RTA needs to
be looking at other areas that aren't as successful," McKay said.
"NOMBL has been one of the areas which has been profitable and successful.
Look at the Park-and-Ride lot on Great -Northern; it's full all
the 53 bus route is being examined because it's not cost-effective.
"It is a very
poor-performing route, so we were considering modifications to it,"
Calabrese said, "When we held public hearings on this, a number
of the riders came out and asked that we retain it, so we agreed
to continue to look at it through the first quarter of next year."
City and NOMBL
officials asked RTA to consider making the line a community circulator
that goes through several communities. NOMBL General Manager Tom
Terbrack said making the route a community circulator would make
it even more useful.
"It would provide
a new service by going down Dover Center Road in the day and also
hit several key stops for the area," Terbrack said. "We were hopeful
that it would be considered by RTA, but right now they're just going
to retain the route in its current form."
putting in a community circulator on the 53 route isn't likely.
to control and cut costs," he said. "The circulator is an interesting
idea, but it would add several hundred thousand in costs, which
isn't a direction we want to go in."
comment on the current negotiations between RTA and NOMBL for a
Law Director Jim Dubelko, who is on the city team negotiating with
RTA, said negotiations have been going on since September and that
there has been a long and productive partnership between NOMBL and
"Over the course
of the past 29 years, the North Olmsted Municipal Bus Line, which
is the oldest municipal bus line in Ohio, has developed into the
jewel of the RTA system," Dubelko said. "In turn, financial assistance
provided to the city from a county sales tax sponsored by RTA and
approved by Cuyahoga County voters has enabled NOMBL to continue
it's historic mission of providing A-1 bus line service to thousands
of suburban residents living in the northwestern Greater Cleveland
city negotiators are aware of the talk about RTA and NOMBL but are
focusing on the discussions.
are apparently now swirling about that RTA management is intent
upon taking over the North Olmsted bus line - rumors perhaps in
large part attributable to certain budget information recently released
by RTA management to the news media - we on the North Olmsted negotiating
team who have come to the negotiating table in good faith believe
that we have a duty to neither confirm nor deny such rumors, but
to instead state simply and publicly that we are negotiating with
RTA in good faith," Dubelko said.
He said the
negotiating team is looking out for North Olmsted.
'With the goals
of continuing to provide quality bus line service to residents in
the western suburbs, protecting the rights of our city bus drivers
and other employees who provide that quality bus line service to
the public, and doing everything reasonable and necessary to insure
that the city of North Olmsted, which has lived up to all of its
contract obligations to RTA over the past 29 years, is not now damaged
as a result of any sudden changes in operating policy by RTA management."
RTA should also consider other factors such as the recent several
million dollars of work at the North Olmsted bus garage and how
much money the city of North Olmsted puts into RTA's coffers.
"We helped clear
the way for that work at the garage and we also put millions of
dollars into the sales tax receipts for RTA because North Olmsted
has a very large and thriving retail community," Musial said.
RTA officials would continue to try and find ways to tighten up
costs and find the best way of delivering service.
the possibility of NOMBL not getting a new contract, Calabrese said
if that happened, RTA would make every effort to see that current
NOMBL workers are able to get positions with RTA and retain their
he expects some kind of resolution relatively soon.
"We should have
some land of idea what's going on by the RTA board meeting in December,"
to speculate on a final outcome of the talks, only reiterating that
negotiations are ongoing between RTA and NOMBL.