HARTS expands services


A meeting to provide information about local public transit was held by the Highland Area Rural Transportation System (HARTS) at the Highland County Administration Building on Wednesday, June 15.

The HARTS Committee was formed between 2001 and 2002 to help increase transportation services in Highland County. The organization substantially increased public transit services in the area in 2019 when it was awarded a Rural Public Transit Transportation Grant through the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT).

“When I started in the transportation field you could not get rides for most people in Highland County if it was not supported by Medicaid,” said HARTS Mobility Manager Joe Adray. “You could not get transportation for them to a doctor, dentist or any kind of clinical service, and that’s what we focused on initially.”

Adray said after the grant award in 2019 anyone in Highland County was able to travel from Sinking Spring to Lynchburg for $3 and travel within a ten-mile radius of Hillsboro for $2. He said shorter trips can be purchased for $1, and travelers can cross the county line into Adams or Brown Counties for $4.

Last year’s award for transit to HARTS was $1.7 million in money from Federal Transit Authority (FTA) administered through ODOT. An additional $1.7 million came from local contracts with Job & Family Services, local schools and other entities.

The majority of transit services for HARTS are provided through FRS Transportation, and some services are provided by Highland County Community Action and private transportation providers. “I’m a resource for the entire county so if someone can’t find or hasn’t been able to find transportation then I can generally contact someone for them,” said Adray.

“Since we have started public transit in March of 2020, we’ve done about 30,000 public transit trips for the county, and that’s taking people to work, medical appointments, education and shopping or anything you can think of that you need transportation for from wherever in the county to wherever else in the county,” said FRS Transportation Director Damon Lucas.

Lucas said he plans to further expand the services. “This year in our grant application for Highland and Adams County, we also included Brown County, so we are hoping they are going to extend those funds to allow us to take public transportation into Brown County as well,” he said. The 2023 grant application requested $4.2 million.

He said the 2021 grant allowed for expansion into Adams County which began in January of 2021.

FRS Transportation currently has 47 vehicles and 63 employees. The vehicles include five minibuses that carry twelve people and two wheelchairs and eight Ford Transit vans that carry nine people and two wheelchairs. They also have three fifteen-passenger vans used for planned events. The remaining vehicles are minivans.

“We’re waiting on ODOT to provide us with eight more vehicles for the 2022 award once they’re available,” said Lucas. “The biggest thing right now is we are utilizing a lot of vehicles that we would otherwise retire.”

Adray said, “This area – Highland, Adams, and Brown – literally had no transportation, and it was just a transportation desert, so there’s three counties that are being served under the grant we were initially able to put on the map.”

Aday said he can help people get connected with the transportation services they need. He can be reached at 937-402-6156.

Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.

HARTS Mobility Manager Joe Adray and FRS Transportation Director Damon Lucas speak at the HARTS Committee meeting.
https://www.timesgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/33/2022/06/web1_DSC_0077.jpgHARTS Mobility Manager Joe Adray and FRS Transportation Director Damon Lucas speak at the HARTS Committee meeting. John Hackley | The Times-Gazette
Grant allows organization to expand local transit services

By John Hackley


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