say RTA close to absorbing municipal bus line
By Jeff Gallatin
Published March 2, 2005
may be driving down the road toward an agreement where the North
Olmsted Municipal Bus Line will be absorbed into the Regional Transit
and transportation committee was scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. last
night to hear details of a draft agreement between the city and
RTA and also consider second reading of an ordinance approving the
takeover. A special council meeting was tentatively set for March
8 to consider final approval of the agreement.
said major portions of the current draft agreement would include
RTA guaranteeing "certain minimal levels of bus service in the NOMBL
service area," such as a community circulator on the current 53
bus route during the next three years; paying $750,000 in administrative
fees over the next three years to help the city deal with the financial
blow of losing NOMBL, and recognizing the bargaining rights of current
NOMBL union workers and allowing them to retain their seniority
as well as providing non-bargaining unit NOMBL workers with equivalent
paid positions at RTA.
and RTA officials said an agreement was near.
Jim Dubelko and a member of the city negotiating team said since
an agreement could not be reached which provided for NOMBL maintaining
some independence, the draft does provide protection in three areas
of major concern for city officials. He said it would maintain levels
of service for the city of North Olmsted and NOMBL customers, protect
the rights and jobs of NOMBL workers and help the city deal with
the financial impact of NOMBL being absorbed.
"In the absence
of an agreement which provides for another extension of the current
contract or a new contract which provides for NOMBL's independence,
we found that this agreement provided the most good for the city
and the bus line," Dubelko said.
Kucinich, County Commissioner Jimmy DiMora and the county mayors
and city managers all sought another three-month extension for North
Olmsted when the current three-month extension expires March 31.
However, RTA officials said they would take part of the funding
in the draft agreement off the table if an extension were granted.
Manager Joe Calabrese said the situation is close to being worked
out after several months of hard negotiations.
are going well," Calabrese said. "I see the situation working out
as a win-win-win situation for everybody."
his understanding is that Maple Heights is also close to an agreement
with RTA, which would allow it to absorb that municipal bus line
He said if
RTA assumes control of NOMBL operations it would hold public meetings
in the community about the service. He also said it would work on
expanding the park and ride lot.
At a council
streets and transportation committee meeting Feb. 22, Ward 4 Councilman
Dean McKay asked if RTA was going to repair damages to Kennedy Ridge
at the meeting RTA would take care of damages and said Monday if
the agency had caused the damages, it would pay for repairs.
Michael Gareau Jr. said he had doubts about RTA's credibility because
it had not kept promises made before by RTA officials at the agency
before Calabrese. He cited the work and discussions on the park-n-ride
project as well as promises of a new bus garage that now will not
senior staff counsel for Kucinich, said several times at the meeting
the congressman wanted to make sure the city does not feel it was
being "strong-armed," or "backed against the wall," in the negotiations
by RTA. He said Kucinich would not stand in the way if city officials
felt they were getting a fair agreement with RTA.
to the various comments and questions, Gelfand said he would report
to Kucinich if the city felt it is being strong-armed.
declined comment on that allegation.
Kucinich's office said Monday the congressman continues to be behind
North Olmsted and is continuing to work on the situation. Kucinich
has applied for funds for an independent study of transit operations
in Cuyahoga County and asked RTA to sign a new agreement with North
Olmsted and Maple Heights while a study was done. Gelfand said last
week the congressman expects to get the funds.
he expects the RTA Board of Trustees to approve final agreements
T. Musial said Monday the situation remains open.
"It's a fluid
situation that can and does change," Musial said.
chairman of the council streets and transportation committee, said
Monday the agreement will probably go before the full council next
to get the best possible agreement for North Olmsted citizens and
bus line employees," Nashar said. "Kucinich's staff has helped a
great deal in getting us better terms by working with the city on
to terms already noted, the draft agreement also provides for:
lRTA to implement
a separate service out of its Triskett garage which would provide
NOMBL-like service to the NOMBL customers.
lRTA would have
to provide written notice to the mayor and city council of any route
changes such as discontinuance or major modifications.
lRTA and the
city would both execute mutual settlement and release of claims
each it might have against each other pertaining to the contract.
lRTA would hold
the city harmless on all third-party claims from the agreement.
lThe city and
RTA would work together in the future on mass transit needs, including
future RTA capital projects.