Millions of passengers have traveled tens of millions of miles on the Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (SARTA) since the first passenger took a ride on the public transit agency back on December 1, 1997. Over the next quarter-century, SARTA has become a valuable community asset, every bit as respected and recognizable as the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the McKinley Library, the MAPS Museum, and numerous other area landmarks and attractions, all of which also happen to be served by the system.
In fact, SARTA has become so deeply woven into the fabric of the community that public transportation, which was a novelty 25 years ago, is now taken for granted. “On one level that’s a good thing,” SARTA CEO Kirt Conrad observed. “It means people trust us to do what we’ve done from Day One: take them where they need to go when they need to get there.”
“At the same time, being perceived as just the ‘bus company’ obscures the remarkable things SARTA does and the amazing people who do them,” Conrad said. “Our year-long 25th birthday celebration provides a perfect opportunity to shine a spotlight on both.”
In addition to our operators who are the familiar public faces of the agency, our spotlight will shine on the rarely seen, but vitally important, team of dedicated professionals who keep SARTA’s wheels turning. From the mechanics who maintain our vehicles and make sure they are safe, to the grant writers who secure the dollars that help fuel the agency, to the financial wizards who ensure that every one of those dollars is spent wisely, to the geniuses who work computer magic to constantly evaluate and revise our routes, the travel trainers who have taught more than 14,000 people how to get the most out of every trip, to our dispatchers and customer service representatives, who ensure that our passengers’ needs are met.
With all those amazing people on board, it’s no surprise that SARTA has and continues to do remarkable things. Over the years, we expanded service into every part of Stark County, launched the Canton-Akron express route and Cleveland Route 4 which makes three round trips each day and offers free rides to local veterans who have appointments at the Wade Park VA hospital, worked with local economic development agencies to connect workers and local businesses, and created Wayne County Transit which now provides thousands of rides per week in areas where public transit was virtually non-existent just a short time ago.
“And that is just a partial list,” noted Conrad. “We’re not kidding when we say SARTA travels to thousands of destinations in Stark County and beyond, and more are being added all the time.”
Where SARTA goes is not the only thing that has changed; we’ve also transformed how we get where we’re going. The system has replaced its fume-spewing diesel buses with vehicles powered by compressed natural gas and zero-emission hydrogen fuel cells. As a result of the switch, our community is a healthier place to live, work, and raise a family.
Finally, we would like to mark this occasion by thanking our riders and the residents of Stark County who have always supported SARTA. We could not have traveled these millions of miles over the past quarter century without you. We invite you to hop on board and ride along as we rack up millions more.