EAST LIVERPOOL — East Liverpool Mayor Greg Bricker decided that Friday was a good opportunity to give the local shuttle service a try, as the Community Action Agency of Columbiana County celebrated Ohio Loves Transit Week.

Ohio lawmakers have invested $105 million in state transit system funding, and they wanted to make sure the benefits were on full display for Valentine’s Day.

In Columbiana County, CAA offered all riders of public transit both Valentines and a sweet treat in addition to transporting them for free on the Make The Connection shuttle, which had been piloted in the East Liverpool-Calcutta area last year.

The goal was for Bricker, who rode one shuttle loop that amounts to around 90 minutes, to meet the riders and learn about the critical need for funding and support of public transit systems countywide, according to Mobility Manager Deborah Hill.

CARTS, which is overseen by CAA, operates the rural transit system and shuttle service and hope to meet every increasing mobility needs, providing safe, affordable, efficient and fully coordinated public transportation for everyone within Columbiana County and the surrounding communities.

Providing more than 7,000 rides a month (more than 84,000 riders per year), CARTS and the shuttle drive more than one million mils per year. “CARTS and the shuttle provide a vital link to social services, medical resources, food, jobs and other quality of life leisure activities for persons of low income, seniors, disabled persons, veterans and the general public as a whole,” Hill explained, adding that 12 percent of people use rural transit to get back and forth to jobs.

As the shuttle maneuvered its way, Bricker not only heard about the benefits of the shuttle service but also thoughts on city-related issues. For example, one man pointed out “about the streets in this town,” while a woman fangirled over Bricker, expressing her belief that he would be a “real good mayor.”

Yet another resident who boarded in the area of an apartment complex on Wilbert and spoke of the shuttle’s convenience as he and a friend rode out to Walmart to go shopping.

Among the initiatives for this year are the start of Saturday services on the East Liverpool-Calcutta shuttle route next month and the expansion of the program to other areas of the county. More information will be available on these new programs as they get closer to their start date, Hill concluded.

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