MOUNT VERNON — Starting July 1, Knox Area Transit will no longer operate its Gold Line circulator. Transit Director Bethany Celmar cited lack of ridership as the reason.

KAT revamped the circulator route May 1, adding stops at Colonial Estates, Shalimar Apartments, and Hiawatha Senior Village.

“Our ridership … didn’t add anything by stopping at the apartments,” Celmar told the commissioners on Tuesday.”Being that I have drivers on vacation, it doesn’t make operational sense to keep running it.”

Celmar said the transit company is in summer mode. The number of trips is down, due in large part to not transporting students to and from school. However, KAT is transporting larger groups to the pool and other locations around town.

KAT continues to offer free rides for folks wanting to visit the farmers market, food pantries, or hot meal program. Originally the free rides were only to the farmers market, but the program was expanded to include food pantries and hot meals.

“Since it was just launched, we have not had any requests yet,” Celmar said. “Access to hot meals could make a difference.

“To my knowledge, we have never done a program like this, so it’s a little bit new. Kind of like a pilot program.”

Celmar said most patrons are honoring the 24-hour advance notice when scheduling on-demand rides. KAT continues to work with those who have work schedule changes, are involved with adult probation, or unexpected medical appointments.

“When we have fixed routes, I think we’ll be able to go back to same-day on demand,” she said.

From June 1 through June 24, 215 riders were no-shows when KAT arrived to pick them up.

“We do have a lot of no-shows, but I’m not comfortable that we have a good policy. We definitely need one,” Celmar said. “We definitely need consequences, but I am not confident we are communicating enough about the pick-up arrival times.”

When scheduling a requested time for pickup, riders are told there is a 30-minute window for arrival. Celmar said that window is actually about 45 minutes. Staffing does not enable KAT to call and confirm each rider.

“The problem is a mixture of both sides,” she said of the no-show problem.

To help with scheduling and no-shows, KAT launched an app riders can use to schedule pickups.

“The app is going to be huge in this. Not just with scheduling, but riders will be able to pull it up and see what time range we’ll be there,” Celmar said. “Using the app to cancel will be a huge help to us.”

One issue KAT will look to curtail is minors riding unattended. County Administrator Jason Booth said minors under age 13 are to be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

“We’ve had them as young as 5 years old,” he said. “This is probably going to be unpopular because we have a lot of parents who use it.

“We’ve had instances where we show up and there is no parent there to pick them up,” he said. “From the county’s liability carrier’s perspective, this is not something they like.”

Around 60 children who are open enrolled use KAT for transportation.

Celmar will seek the schools’ input in creating a policy. She suggested exempting contract busing such as from Dan Emmett Elementary School to The Salvation Army.

” I think the schools are just going to have to understand,” Booth said.

“If people are going to open enroll, parents will have to make sure they can get them there,” Commissioner Teresa Bemiller said.

Celmar agreed KAT will have to communicate effectively with the schools that the transit company is not a school bus.

In other transit news, Celmar said she has applied for several Ohio Department of Transportation grants. She is confident KAT will receive ODOT money.

Relating to fixed routes, Celmar said ODOT recommended an approved vendor to do a study of various options. She will seek community input as well.

Legislative action

The Knox County commissioners took the following actions between June 26 and June 29:

•Approved the recommendations of the Tax Incentive Review Commission to continue the Enterprise Zone abatements for Columbia Gas of Ohio’s project in Liberty Township and the FT Precision project in Wayne Township

•Approved support letter for grant funding for Fredericktown Community Development Foundation

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