By David Edward Clark
Lorain County Transit cut Route 33, which ran from Oberlin College to the Cleveland-Hopkins Airport, this summer when faced with an $880,000 budget deficit. The College has entered into an agreement with an alternate company, Airport Oberlin Shuttle Service, to keep a route to the airport open. There will be three scheduled rides per day, leaving Oberlin at 7:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., and 4:00 p.m., that will cost $10. During student breaks, the College will continue to charter Brecksville Road Transit, which will cost students $5, to supplement the regular airport shuttle.
Airport Oberlin Shuttle Service also offers rides per carload from the Oberlin Inn, suite 115, anytime on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. for $20. The buses can also be hired for $39 after hours and on weekends.
On February 2, Governor Strickland announced a 12.6% budget cut for the Ohio Department of Transportation, which affected public transportation statewide. When faced with their share, the LCT cut Route 33 during the first round of service cuts. It was the second least profitable route that the LCT ran; on average, there were less than 2 riders per hour at $4 for students and $8 for community members, while operating costs exceeded $43 per hour.
“This decision was made by LCT, their service provider and the county commissioners,” said Madeline Marvar ’11, Assistant to the Vice President of Finance. “I went to some of the [County Commissioner] meetings where they discussed these service cuts and they were heart wrenching. There were not many people representing Oberlin.” Regardless of representation, reviving Route 33 “ really wasn’t something that could be addressed.”
The College realized the necessity of an airport route for students, and Marvar spent time looking into whether the Brecksville buses could carry daily passengers. The company only had 47 and 52 passenger buses, and though there was discussion of purchasing smaller vehicles, the issue could not be resolved in time. “We needed a solution as soon as possible,” wrote Marvar in an email.
“The summer has been trying to find the most cost effective and time efficient way to bring a shuttle that would be running daily,” said Marvar. The College found the Airport Oberlin Shuttle Service. “The fares are now higher, which seemed to be the only way the transportation companies could make it cost effective,” said Marvar. “This was the best deal we could find.”
The College signed a one-semester contract with Airport Oberlin Shuttle Service. The College wants to study peak travel times and will renegotiate the contract at the end of the year based on student use. If it looks to be cost effective, the College may sign on for weekend routes and perhaps even routes to Cleveland in the future, although the potential Cleveland routes would not be through the Airport Oberlin Shuttle Service.
Though a government stimulus package was approved to reduce the deficit from $880,000 to $80,000 this year, the deficit is expected to reach $1.2 million next year, crushing any hopes of bringing back Route 33. Route 33 has not been the LCT’s only cuts; others include Sunday services, community connectors and daily operating hours.
More info can be found at: http://new.oberlin.edu/transportation/shuttles.dot