Tuesday, January 29, 2002

Mason chips in $25K toward bus service shortfall

By Earnest Winston
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MASON — City Council agreed Monday to kick in about half of the remaining funds needed to keep a commuter bus service to Cincinnati running.

        “It provides a valuable service to the community,” Councilman Peter Beck said. “We need to continue to try to improve our mass transit out in Warren County to make it more affordable, flexible and convenient to the riders.”

        Warren County commissioners in the past paid $103,000 annually for the bus service, but they told Deerfield Township, Lebanon and Mason that they can spend only half that in 2002.

        “We had to tighten purse strings in every direction we went, and we just couldn't afford to do the whole thing this year,” Commissioner Larry Crisenbery said.

        Deerfield agreed last month to kick in up to half of the $52,000 shortfall. Lebanon Councilman Jim Reinhard said he believes city leaders will approve some or all of the $13,000 originally requested from the county. But, he said, the city needs more information before taking a vote.

        Metro operates the 6-year-old bus service, which takes about 350 commuters from the Paramount's Kings Island area to downtown Cincinnati in 10 daily round trips.

        “It's very heartening that communities in southern Warren County are supportive of public transit,” Metro general manager Paul Jablonski said. He has said the future of the bus service could be jeopardized if the funding isn't restored.

        Of the amount approved Monday by Mason City Council, $13,100 will be used to take riders from the Kings Island area to Cincinnati, with $11,900 used to bring commuters back.

        Councilman Dick Staten said the bus service also helps attract businesses to Mason by luring workers from Hamilton County.

        “We bring these businesses in here and the pool of workers is just about dried up, so we have to supplement that pool by bringing people in from outlying areas,” Mr. Staten said.


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