wants new study done on RTA, NOMBL
By Jeff Gallatin
Published Jan. 26, 2005
Dennis Kucinich is asking Regional Transit Authority officials to
put the brakes on absorbing the North Olmsted Municipal Bus Line
(NOMBL) and instead renew the contract, and allow a new comparative
study of RTA and suburban bus lines to be done.
"In 1987, the
last time such a study was done, the federal Urban Mass Transit
Administration (UMTA) found that both North Olmsted and Maple Heights
performed more efficiently than the RTA," Kucinich said in a Jan.
18 letter to RTA General Manager Joe Calabrese. "Since 1987, no
new study had been executed nor commissioned."
Monday the results of a meeting he has scheduled for today with
a group of transportation and business officials to review RTA data
on the bus lines will be a factor in whether a new study is done.
"We'll be discussing
whether our data is correct about the bus lines and we'll ask them
to consider whether the proposal for our handling the North Olmsted
and Maple Heights services is indeed cost-effective," Calabrese
North Olmsted, Maple Heights and Kucinich's office have been invited
to the meeting as well, Calabrese said.
Mayor Norman T. Musial said he plans to attend the meeting and will
continue to represent North Olmsted's interests.
he expects feedback from the officials shortly after the meeting
and he will consider it as well as provide it to the RTA board.
He said any
final decision on whether or not to not absorb the suburban lines
and wait for a new study would be up to the RTA board. He said there
are time considerations involved, saying RTA officials need to know
by March to set its operations budget.
with Kucinich's contention that the 1987 study indicated the municipal
lines were more efficient. Instead, Calabrese said the study stated
the data was inconclusive and that there was no clear data to show
which transit organization was more efficient.
said that a 1992-93 study by a Miami firm, Busitil and Associates,
showed that it would be more cost efficient for RTA to take over
the services done by North Olmsted and Maple Heights.
In his letter,
Kucinich asks RTA to renew the current five-year contract and allow
an independent study to be done instead of absorbing the two lines.
Kucinich has been working with North Olmsted city officials as well
as their Maple Heights counterparts to try and prevent RTA from
absorbing both of those cities' bus lines, the last two independent
municipal bus lines in Cuyahoga County. The last five-year agreement
between RTA and North Olmsted expired Dec. 31, but both the city
and RTA agreed to a three-month extension as the two sides tried
to find a solution.
are saying they can save several million dollars annually by absorbing
the two suburban lines and still maintain the same services and
employees. However, North Olmsted officials have questioned the
savings figures, while also saying losing of the line would cause
major financial problems for the city budget in payroll taxes and
In his letter,
Kucinich said the entire Westshore area and not just North Olmsted
benefit from having NOMBL, which was formed in 1931 and is the oldest
surviving municipal bus line.
in Bay Village, Fairview Park, Lakewood, North Olmsted, Olmsted
Falls, Olmsted Township, Rocky River and Westlake benefit from local
control," Kucinich said in the letter. They appreciate being notified
in meaningful ways about schedule changes so that they can make
their needs known to the RTA and local elected officials. The suburban
riders also benefit from the friendly competition of a system that
does things slightly different, perhaps even a little bit better
in some ways. It is my hope that suburban riders continue to get
their money's worth.
believe that the decision to acquire the North Olmsted and Maple
Heights bus lines was made in haste. Although much effort was put
into this endeavor in the RTA's early years, those attempts failed
because the suburban bus lines proved to provide better and more
efficient service to suburban riders. The RTA's present attempt
to acquire the suburban lines, while perhaps quietly contemplated
among staff, only publicly resurfaced after the people of the West
Shore forcefully asserted their opposition to the RTA's proposed
reduction in bus service to the western suburbs."
notes that North Olmsted puts $15 to $20 million annually into RTA's
coffers via the sales tax contributions.
"This is approximately
four times the cost of running the North Olmsted Municipal Bus Line
and exceeds by 10 the amount of any supposed inefficiency in retaining
North Olmsted to run its area transit operation," Kucinich said.
city officials continue to support Kucinich's efforts to try and
cautiously optimistic," said Musial. "We're all working pretty hard
at trying to get this done."
he has forwarded Kucinich's letter to the same group of federal,
state and local government and business officials that he previously
had sent requests for help and other information about the situation
chairman of city council's streets and transportation committee,
said council also is interested in the study.
all the support we're getting and will do whatever we can to help.
If the study would allow us the opportunity to study the situation
while continuing NOMBL then I'm for it," Nashar said.