“It’s still a plan,” said BCRTA Executive Director Matthew Dutkevicz.
While local officials must secure funding for the plans to be put into effect, the transit systems could be connected as soon as the first quarter of 2018, he said.
The estimated cost of the proposed connection is $340,000 a year. Up to 50 percent of the operating costs may be covered through grants. The remainder could be covered through bus fares, grants, partnerships, Middletown’s general fund, contributions from employers on the route or a combination of funding sources.
Before opening the route, officials in the partnering municipalities and BCRTA need a general understanding of where funding would be coming from for multiple years.
“It generally takes up to three years for a route to be fully established at its potential,” said Middletown City Manager Doug Adkins in an email.
Linking the transit services would be significant not only for Butler County and Dayton but the entire Greater Cincinnati region. If the plans come to fruition, transit services would be connected from Northern Kentucky to Dayton.
“This will finally bridge the gap between Cincinnati and Dayton for public transit,” Dutkevicz said.
The plans to connect the public transportation services developed largely out of a need to fill open jobs in Butler County.
“(Employers are) ready to reach out to larger areas,” Dutkevicz said.
Local officials saw the BCRTA-operated Middletown Transit Services as an ideal outlet to facilitate that connection.
“As the only municipal transit service in the area, we have a tool available to bring workers into the area to fill jobs,” Adkins said.
The announcement of an Amazon fulfillment center coming to Monroe has recently helped fuel interest in the tentative connection.
“(Monroe) has experienced tremendous industrial development over the past 10 years, and we are trying to support our employers by connecting them to a broad employee pool,” said Jen Patterson, assistant to the city manager, in an email.
Connecting services would open up opportunities for northbound commuters, as well.
“We expect good movement in both directions,” Dutkevicz said.
The route being discussed would most likely be a commuter-style route with a limited number of trips to Greater Dayton RTA’s south hub, Dutkevicz said.
“We haven’t ironed out all the details yet,” he said.
While the plans are still preliminary and dependent on funding, BCRTA representatives already are considering how to work with other transit authorities to help commuters. Real-time tracking, which BCRTA already offers through iOS and Android apps, and unified fare media between transit authorities are some features that could ease the flow of connector routes, Dutkevicz said.