Mondia Brown heads one of the nearly 14 percent of Toledo households -- disproportionately poor and African American -- that don’t have vehicles.
In pre-dawn darkness last week, she boarded TARTA bus No. 7 in downtown Toledo, the express bus to Spencer Township, on her way to work. A cashier at Meijer, she works 25 hours a week for $12.70 an hour.
At 6 a.m., Ms. Brown had already been up for two hours. She rode a TARTA bus downtown from her home in South Toledo.
Without the express bus to Spencer Township, Ms. Brown, 37, said she would have to quit her job. But if Spencer Township votes in November to leave TARTA, the No. 7 route would end within 90 days.
Metropolitan Toledo is ranked among the worst U.S. metro areas for having jobs in neighborhoods served by public transit. So why aren’t politicians in this year’s campaign for mayor and city council talking about it?
When people are willing to ride a bus for two or three hours to get to low-wage jobs, it’s shortsighted, even mean, to take away their opportunity to work.
Urban regions around the country -- areas that Toledo competes with for talent and capital -- are expanding transit to slow sprawl, reduce road congestion, improve air quality, and jump-start millions of dollars in transit-oriented development.
Grand Rapids, Michigan, a city smaller than Toledo, is counting on a forthcoming $40-million rapid transit bus line to reduce commute times, raise property values, and create jobs and development.
To build the 9.6-mile Silver Line, the Grand Rapids area enacted a six-city property tax increase in 2011, which leveraged $32 million in federal grants and $8 million in state matching dollars. Peter Varga, CEO of The Rapid, the local transit agency, believes the new rapid bus line will give Grand Rapids a 5-to-1 return on investment in retail stores, housing, and other development.
Where is the champion for transit and progress in northwest Ohio, and the advocates for people like Mondia Brown?