After using innovation, determination, expertise, and experience to drive Stark County safely through the pandemic, Kirt Conrad, CEO of the Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (SARTA), said he and his staff are keeping their foot on the accelerator as life returns to normal in the region.
“The new routes and programs we have already launched and those we will roll out in the months ahead will make it easier and more convenient than ever to use SARTA to travel to work, stores, school, restaurants, entertainment venues, and the thousands of destinations served by our fixed routes, on-demand, and specialty services,” Mr. Conrad said. “We are enthusiastic about the future and eager to do our part to reopen and reinvigorate the economy.”
One key to jumpstarting the economy: providing the reliable, affordable transportation people need to enter, reenter, or remain in the workforce. SARTA is on the job with routes and programs specifically designed to meet the needs of employers and employees, including a new program that provides businesses with free 31-day fixed route passes new employees can use to travel to and from work.
“The cost of transportation can be a real problem for folks who haven’t been on the job long enough to earn a couple paychecks,” Mr. Conrad said. “This promotion solves that problem. New hires won’t have to worry about getting to and from work for their first month and once they have a couple pay periods under their belt, transportation won’t be an issue, especially if they ride SARTA. I like to think of the program as a pathway to a brighter future for people who want to work and the businesses that want to hire them.”
“People couldn’t get to work that early using our existing routes, so we collaborated with the Stark County Development Board and the companies to design a completely new one that does,” Mr. Conrad continued. “The Success Express has been, well, a success, and we look forward to bringing this type of customized service to other parts of the county.”
Or other counties, like neighboring Wayne where SARTA, the Wayne County Commissioners, and Community Action of Wayne and Medina Counties are running a pilot project that extends ride-sharing and other transit services to residents living outside the city of Wooster. “Residents of rural areas want, need and deserve high-quality mobility services,” Mr. Conrad commented. “We are pleased and proud to be a member of the team that is making those services available across Wayne County for the first time.”
Along with helping people travel to work, SARTA’s new Community Circulator is making it easier for riders to spend the money they earn when they get there. The new streamlined Route 158 both reduces travel time between some of Canton’s most popular retail outlets and demonstrates the transit system’s responsiveness and flexibility.
And, according to Kirt Conrad, SARTA is just warming up. “Public transit is going to play an essential role in our nation and world in the coming decades, and SARTA will always be well ahead of the curve.”
SARTA The New Normal