Highland County Mobility Manager Joe Adray announced Thursday that FRS Transportation (FRST) received the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) Rural Transportation Grant, which the organization applied for in August.
According to Adray, the grant will give FRST about $1,120,000 to help fund public transportation in Highland County. Adray, who also leads the Highland Area Rural Transport System (HARTS) committee, said at first the public transportation system will include loop routes through Hillsboro and Greenfield with a connecting route in between the two towns to allow people to travel between them.
“FRST will now begin to discuss with ODOT, the HARTS committee, local governments, area agencies, businesses, and the general public best places for transit stops, schedules, and many more details,” Adray said in a news release.
Roger Cheesbro, CEO of FRS and FRST, told The Times-Gazette the ODOT grant won’t be available to them until January, but he said they are aiming to have the system in place by March 2, 2020. But even if they hit a snag, Cheesbro estimated the system should be operational by April 1, 2020.
Cheesbro said FRST will also have to contribute around $800,000, as well as about 20 percent of the cost of the vehicles, as they agreed to match ODOT’s contribution. Cheesbro said FRST’s contribution will come from transportation contracts, some of which are already in place.
Cheesbro said the cost per ride, the number and types of vehicles, times of day transportation will be available, and similar details are still in development at this time.
”This is a big thing for our community. You know, we live in rural Ohio, and it’s hard for a lot of people to get around. You can get a ride to the doctor, but you can’t get a ride to the grocery store or Job and Family Services or to your work,” Cheesbro said. “Up to this point, FRST has provided transportation for the disabled, elderly, and lower income folks, but this will allow the general population to receive transportation as well.”
To stay up-to-date on the developments, Cheesbro recommended looking for updates on harts4highland.org and frstransportation.org.
Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570.