University of Toledo students, faculty and staff can catch a bus anywhere in the community for free through a new partnership with the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority.
TARTA will begin managing UT’s bus shuttle services this summer, continuing the same on-campus routes and also providing free access to all TARTA bus routes for every UT student, faculty and staff member with their Rocket ID card. The UT Board of Trustees approved the partnership on Monday.
“We listened to our student leaders who asked us to expand bus services to enhance access to off-campus experiences, and we recognize the importance of UT being a leader in connecting to the broader community,” said Larry Kelley, UT executive vice president for finance and administration, and chief financial officer. “Consolidating our campus bus system with our regional transit system will help our students — and all 6,500 employees of the University — get downtown or to the zoo or to area shopping and restaurants more easily. It will allow them to better connect to our community.”
“TARTA is about connecting people with the places they want and need to go. This partnership is a great opportunity for UT students, faculty and staff to be directly connected to the entire metro Toledo community,” TARTA General Manager James Gee said. “The partnership is an example of collaborating to create efficiencies that enhance the vitality of our region overall.”
UT will pay TARTA an annual fee to manage its transit system. The cost is comparable to current operating costs for the University’s bus program, and there will be no additional fees for students.
The University expects to save about $2 million that without this partnership would have been required to purchase new vehicles to replace its aging bus fleet. Of UT’s fleet of 16 buses, nine are approaching replacement.
TARTA will continue to employ the UT students to drive campus buses and maintain the GPS system used to track the vehicles along their on-campus routes.
There are 16 Ohio colleges and universities with similar partnerships with their regional transit authorities; however, UT’s agreement with TARTA is unique in that faculty and staff also benefit with free access to community bus routes.