Tuesday, Oxford City Council discussed the transition from the Miami Metro to the Butler County Regional Transit Authority (BCRTA), a countywide public transportation system.
Expanding the BCRTA to Oxford has been in the works for about a year and a half and is protected to be put into effect by August 2013, according to city council member Bob Blackburn.
Blackburn said incorporating the BCRTA into Oxford is a gradual process.
“You have to crawl before you walk,” Blackburn said. “Baby steps.”
According to city council member Kate Rousmaniere, the Miami Metro is transitioning from a private company to a public company.
“One advantage of this is that all buses have to be wheelchair accessible by law,” Rousmaniere said.
City manager Douglas Elliott said a number of people have supported the expansion of the BCRTA in Oxford, due to public need. Elliott added that the BCRTA’s ridership numbers have grown exponentially since 2008.
Blackburn said he is hopeful that the greater accessibility to the public will alleviate traffic and parking issues around the Oxford community.
BCRTA’s service in Oxford would include on-campus as well as off-campus stops. Miami University students and faculty will be able to ride for free, while the fare for the general public will be two dollars.
Initially, the number of off-campus stops would be limited due to lack of funding and the length of the routes, BCRTA representative Carla Lakatos said. A lack of funding would also exclude summer service, limiting rides to the academic year.
BCRTA has said $90,000 would be needed to finance off-campus stops, according to Blackburn. The BCRTA hopes to get this additional funding from many sources, including the City of Oxford.
This would require budgetary planning on city council’s part. However, it would need to be planned in the future, according to Blackburn.
Blackburn said it is possible to adjust the off-campus routes.
“I think it’s new enough that if we gave something they would work with us to get something,” Blackburn said.
Elliott said he believes expanding the BCRTA to Oxford is welcome news, as it would meet the city’s goal of providing transportation to the public.
Despite the potentially positive impacts on Oxford and Miami, this transition could pose disadvantages to current Miami Metro bus drivers, Lakatos said.
According to Lakatos, the bus drivers will not be earning as much as they do in the current system, due to BCRTA’s monetary restrictions. Drivers will also not receive health insurance benefits for the same reason.
Lakatos added that anyone will be able to apply to be a bus driver for the BCRTA, including those who currently work for Miami.