WRTA plans upgrade in service in 2011


A WRTA bus heads southbound along Market Street through Federal Plaza in downtown Youngstown as the sun rises Friday morning.

By Ashley Luthern



A reconfigured Austintown route and Federal Station improvements are among the changes that await the Western Reserve Transit Authority in 2011.

The altered Austintown route will stop at Rulli Brothers and Walmart in addition to the Austintown Plaza, said Jim Ferraro, executive director.

“We want to get people from their home and apartment and use it to shop,” Ferraro said.

A few of the buses that run on that route also will be new, thanks to a grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation.

On Dec. 3, WRTA was notified of the $600,000 award for three “Clean and Green” buses.

The 22-passenger buses, 28 feet long, are fuel- efficient and have the capability of using bio-diesel fuel, said Marianne Vaughn, WRTA director of finance. She added that the vehicles must be on purchase order before June 2011.

Next year, bus operators will see a change in the radio system as it is switched from analog to digital — a process that costs about $750,000, Ferraro said.

“One improvement to this is that the bus-garage manager can speak to individual bus drivers at a time, instead of broadcasting to all buses,” he said.

The largest capital improvement will be the continuation of the Federal Station renovations.

“The ceiling and roof were leaking, so we have to complete that before we tackle the inside,” Ferraro said.

Vaughn said bids for work on the station’s roof are likely to open in January.

The exterior work, however, has “screeched and halted” because of the cold weather and also problems with some sections of newly poured concrete cracking, Ferraro said.

Larger projects include replacing the fair boxes with those that give WRTA the ability to sell daily or weekly passes, which will cost about $1 million, the executive director said.

Also beginning next year, the transit authority will begin the process of replacing 46 of the 48 full-size 35-foot coach buses that are at the end of their 12-year life span, Ferraro said.

The cost for each new bus is around $400,000.

WRTA also has applied for a state grant to launch a pilot project from Youngstown to Warren.