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President Trump's reported to be ready to sign disaster relief bill without money for border security. Also on the Friday rundown: House bills would give millions a path to citizenship; and remembering California’s second-deadliest disaster.

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Ohio Transit Systems Spread Valentine's Day Love

There are 61 transit systems in Ohio serving an estimated 3 million people each weekday. (Raymond Wambsgam/Flickr)
There are 61 transit systems in Ohio serving an estimated 3 million people each weekday. (Raymond Wambsgam/Flickr)
February 14, 2018

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Some Ohio transit systems have a sweet Valentine's Day gift for their riders. The Ohio Public Transit Association (OPTA) has deemed today "Ohio Loves Transit Day," a new observance to acknowledge the vital role of transit in the state and encourage ridership.

Katherine Manning, an OPTA volunteer who also is director of planning for the Portage Area Regional Transit Authority, said each weekday, more than three million Ohioans depend on transit for transportation.

"Whether we're talking about seniors or disabled individuals, students, people who need to get to work," Manning said, "we wanted one day to really celebrate how awesome it is that we have such great public transit, and how important it is to continue to invest in public transit."

Ohio has 61 transit systems, many of which are celebrating with valentines and giveaways. Several are also providing free trips on fixed routes – including systems in Butler County, Dayton, Lancaster, Medina, Pike County, Portage County, Stark County and Youngstown.

The 2015 Ohio Statewide Transit Needs Study found that in order to serve unmet demand, public transit systems in Ohio need to provide an additional 37 million trips over current levels.

Manning contends better investments are needed for the future.

"We need to, as a state, really look at making sure that we fund transportation in a way that makes sense for us," she said. "And long term, what we really need is to find a more stable funding source for transportation."

Public transit is funded through a combination of federal, state and local dollars. State funding plummeted from $40 million in 2000 to about $7 million in 2014, and federal investments also have decreased.

Starting in 2019, the loss of local sales-tax revenue from health-care services provided by Medicaid Managed-Care Organizations will reduce transit funding by about $38 million annually.

This collaboration is produced in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded by the George Gund Foundation.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH