SARTA Funding Canton Ohio

 In Family

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By Kristie Petty

Do you wonder how SARTA funds the safe, quality and reliable transportation services we provide to Stark County Residents? SARTA receives funding from five sources; however, the funding is constantly changing year to year. The five funding sources are:
1. Sales Tax Revenue
2. Fares paid by riders
3. Contracts with Social Service Agencies
4. Funding from Ohio Department of Transportation and the Federal Transit Administration
5. Competitive Federal & State Grants
SARTA’s largest source of funding is provided from its Sale Tax Revenue. This is a tax buyers pay on non-food items throughout Stark County. The sales tax rate in Stark County is 6.5% and of that 6.5%, SARTA receives ¼%. So what does that mean? Well if you purchase an item for $100.00, SARTA receives $.25. This revenue funds about 70% of our operational expenses. These are items such as the fuel for the buses, utilities for our five facilities, parts to repair buses and our employees’ salaries. Our ¼% sales tax is a renewable tax, so every five years we must ask Stark County residents to renew the sales tax. Without this revenue, SARTA would no longer be able to provide services to our 10,000 riders a day. In addition to the sales tax, we generate revenue by selling advertising on the inside and outside of our buses, contracts with social service agencies to provide transportation for their clients and charge our riders bus fare. These additional sources of revenue fund about 10% of our expenses.
Each year, the State of Ohio budgets to fund public transit agencies in Ohio. In 2000, the State of Ohio provided roughly $44 million to fund public transportation through federal flexed funds. However, funding in 2015 and 2016 was a mere $7.3 million that needed to be divided among the 61 transit systems in Ohio! The State of Ohio provides no general revenue fund to support public transit and therefore SARTA. In 2014/2015, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) conducted and published a Transit Needs study which found:
• There are 27 counties in Ohio that do not have any public transit.
• Public transit systems provide 115M trips per year to Ohioans.
• Over 60% of trips taken are for work, 20% are for school and 20% are for recreation, shopping or medical trips.
• Transit systems have a fleet of about 3200 vehicles combined and approximately 1200 of them are beyond their useful life and in need of replacement.
• Public Transit ridership is projected to increase to 225M trips a year by 2025.
• There is currently a $185 million funding gap for public transit.
• Ohio is the 14th highest in ridership of any state in the US; however it is 38th in funding for public transit.
• An additional $273 million in funding is needed to bring Ohio’s fleets to a State of Good Repair.
• To expand and meet the current needs of Ohioan’s, an additional $192 million in funding is required.

In addition to funding from Sales tax and the State of Ohio, SARTA also relies on funding from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). They provide funding for all transit agencies in the US. Funding from the FTA covers about 17% of our expenses. For the past 10 years, the FTA did not have funds allocated to fund the nation’s public transits systems. Instead, FTA passed continuous resolutions that funded public transportation for short periods of time. The FTA currently funds $10 billion a year to be divided among the thousands of transit agencies across the US.
In order to enhance riders’ experiences, improve operations and purchase new buses or equipment, SARTA applies for competitive grants at the State and Federal Levels. Each grant has a specific purpose for the funds that will be awarded. Recently, we were awarded grants that have enabled us to purchase new sustainable buses (CNG and Hydrogen Fuel Cell), equipment required to maintain our buses, software programs that allowed us to launch rider tools like PinPoint and GoLine and security items that keep our riders and employees safe. These grants are highly competitive and we are not always guaranteed to be awarded the grant(s).
SARTA Funding Canton Ohio

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