The need and demand for transportation options is changing in response to both underlying demographic changes in Greater Lorain County and cultural changes. A large portion of younger adults (millennials) and older generations (baby boomers) express a desire to live in communities that are bikeable, walkable and have transit. In addition, our residents are getting older and poorer, especially in Elyria, Lorain and rural villages and townships. Seniors and low-income individuals rely more on transit systems to get them to school, work, shopping, and health services. Health and human services increasingly serve individuals in the community and encourage community living rather than institutional care. Transit is estimated to save the typical rider over $8,000 annually.
Studies show that public transportation spurs economic growth and development. Lorain County residents travel across municipal and county boundaries to get to work but also for shopping, school and to access health care. 36,888 or 27.9% of employed Lorain County residents travel to Cuyahoga County for work. The lack of public transportation puts Lorain County at a disadvantage when competing with neighboring communities for new business development.
The need for transit is not limited to urban areas. As Lorain County’s rural population continues to get older and rely more on public transit, the need will only grow.
State of Ohio Perspective: Ohio underinvests in public transit and has done so for decades, routinely spending less than 1% of its multi-billion-dollar transportation budget on public transit. The state’s share increased to about 1.6% of Ohio’s $8.5 billion biennial transportation budget for 2020 and 2021, a step in the right direction, but an amount that is still less than half of the $150 million per year recommended by the Ohio Department of Transportation’s in its 2015 Statewide Transit Needs Study. (Policy Matters Ohio)
Mobility Management: Public transit is served by agencies and funding streams across state government. The Ohio Department of Transportation’s 2015 Transit Needs Study identified roughly $250 million in annual transportation services currently provided by individual agencies in silos across state government. For instance, the Department of Medicaid funds Non-Emergency Medical Transportation for Medicaid patients to get to medical appointments.
Other transportation services are provided through several agencies including serving our aging population, people with development disabilities, veterans, victims of domestic violence and more. By pooling these funds at the state or regional level, and contracting with Ohio’s public transit systems to provide these services, Ohio can take a more holistic approach to meeting Ohio’s transportation needs. Until this approach is authorized by the Ohio General Assembly, United Way of Greater Lorain County can assist local coordination of resources through a Mobility Management grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation.
United Way of Greater Lorain County Position
United Way of Greater Lorain County (UWGLC) supports a county-wide flexible transit system operated through a public-private partnership that continually responds to changes in demand using a common information system. The system will serve the needs of residents to get to work, school, shopping and healthcare.