Lorain County Transit logistics undergo changes
The arrangement between Oberlin College and Lorain County Transit, “O-Pass,” is for the most part overlooked by students during the year. Yet at the start of holidays many students rely on the LCT’s Route 33 to Cleveland’s Hopkins International Airport to start their journey home. Since Lorain County Transit faced budget reductions and reorganization, a small group of interested students and concerned citizens have been working to make sure O-Pass functions and better serves the community.
Route 33, the line that connects Oberlin to the airport, is the focus of the O-Pass program, since O-Pass was devised in large part to ensure reliable access to the airport for students. The current schedule for Route 33 has seven rides on weekdays and six on weekends. Each day’s rides are split between morning and evening blocks with a break in service between 10 p.m. and 4:30 a.m.
Previously, the LCT offered nine rides a day to Cleveland, but to reduce costs LCT planned to cut the schedule back to, as The Oberlin Review reported on May 13, “as few as three.” Students using the LCT must pay two dollars for a ride on route 33 and $1.25 for all other routes. O-Pass now costs the College $44,000 a year, an increase of four percent from last year. The per-student fee has been increased from seven to eight dollars.
According to a report on O-Pass by fifth-year Blaise Freeman, “When LCT’s budget for Route 33 was decreased, students suggested increasing the O-Pass fee to keep the same level of service. Unfortunately, the budget for 2005 had already been voted on by the Trustees and could not be changed.”
In addition, maintaining service was prized above keeping fares low.
“Free rides make public transportation easier to use but a high level of service determines if people can ride the bus at all,” sophomore Ezra Pincus-Roth said. “People are willing to pay more if service is better.”
Freeman, along with sophomores Pincus-Roth and Nora Gordon formed an informal group of students that has taken up the issue of public transportation at Oberlin. For the week starting on Saturday, Sept. 29, they conducted a survey of student’s travel plans for Fall Break to assist the Lorain County Transit so that it can better accommodate the needs of students. Freeman said that about 200 students had been surveyed.
He cautioned that “logistical factors are more important” in setting the schedule for the start and end of Fall Break. Currently Oberlin Transit is working with LCT to finalize plans for added service for fall break that will include more runs and later runs to and from the airport.
This group is putting together a web page that Freeman hopes will be posted somewhere on the College’s site by this Friday. Freeman said the website will include travel information for the break, like “how to get to Amtrak and Greyhound” and “information on how to use public transit to get around in Lorain County and Oberlin and break the bubble.” Freeman said he wanted it up “at least two weeks in advance” of Fall Break. Freeman also plans to post his report on the LCT web site.
Pincus-Roth said they would like to form a more permanent Oberlin College Transit Committee, because transportation is a “part of student life that people are very dependent on but don’t pay attention to over most of the year.”
Freeman said, “After we complete the contract with LCT,” which he
wants completed in October, they will “contact administrators about
creating a formal group or position” to handle transit.