Lake County - Laketran launched transit service along Lake County’s largest manufacturing corridor adding to the connectivity its Park-n-Ride service provides between Lake County and downtown Cleveland.
Laketran transports 700 commuters between Lake County and their downtown Cleveland jobs daily. More recently, the regional transit system has seen Cleveland residents and those as far west as the Middleburg Heights, using the Park-n-Ride service to commute eastbound into Lake County.
“Typical commuter Park-n-Ride service is only productive in one direction, but as downtown Cleveland increases in population it becomes more and more important for suburban employers to have access to that labor pool,” shared Laketran CEO Ben Capelle. “I hope that what we’ve done with our Park-n-Ride service opens new opportunities to our local employers and job seekers in Cleveland.”
City of Mentor’s Tyler Boulevard is the major arterial connecting ten industrial boulevards lined with over 300 employers and 7,500 jobs, making it the 7th largest concentration of manufacturing companies in the state.
Last year working with the City of Mentor and other regional economic development stakeholders, Laketran surveyed local manufacturers and staffing agencies to better understand the transportation needs of employees and potential ones.
“The need for public transit service along Tyler Boulevard to help recruit and retain employees is something we’ve heard for a long time from the employers, staffing agencies and even social service organizations trying to help people get back to work,” explained Capelle. “Our evaluations confirmed the need for service and we modeled several different options.”
To serve the corridor and reach both Lake County and Cuyahoga county job seekers, Laketran developed a solution by adding additional bus stops to two Park-n-Ride routes when traveling to and from Cleveland.
“The routes will use Tyler Boulevard as they travel to and from Cleveland. We were able to change the times outside the main service, so it will not affect our existing customers, but it will allow job seekers in Cleveland to catch a Laketran bus in Cleveland with a direct trip to Tyler Boulevard,” shared Capelle. “Lake County residents will be able to transfer from our route buses along state route 306 to access the new service.”
“It is not a perfect solution, but it is one we can implement with very little impact on our budget. The best option is traditional fixed route service, but unfortunately with the significant revenue cuts from the state and the overwhelming growth of our Dial-a-Ride service, we cannot afford to operate a true fixed route with hourly service,” explained Capelle.
“This is a good step in the right direction as we continue to find ways to resolve one of the primary obstacles facing our business community; the need to recruit qualified employees,” shared Mentor city manager Kenneth J. Filipiak.
“Laketran is a valued partner who recognizes that public resources are best put to use when advancing the economic development goals of the community,” continued Filipiak.
The new service started on January 28 and provides six morning and afternoon trips that best serve first shift workers.
Laketran board president Brian Falkowski said one for the primary roles of the transit agency is to increase economic activity. “We have businesses in our county looking for more workers and we want to make sure transportation isn’t as a barrier to get people to work. Laketran has always played a significant role in economic development by improving job access to retail businesses and we’re excited to finally be serving this vital manufacturing corridor,” he said.
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