Seneca County Agency Transportation was formed in 1993, hired a director in 1994 and bought its first vehicle in 1995. During its first year of service, SCAT furnished transportation for 17,037 trips. This year, with 16 vehicles in its fleet, SCAT is expecting to top 50,000 trips by year’s end.
“I never imagined that this year we would pass 50,000 rides,” said Director Linda Good. “I never imagined that.”
Good emphasized the goal of her agency.
“This is what our true goal is, to enhance the value of life for those in Seneca County and Metro Fostoria through transportation,” Good said. “If we’re doing that, we’re doing God’s work and we’re making things better. In most cases we’re making a great impact on our community.”
Good began her tenure at SCAT in 1994 as a part-time volunteer. She became the director for the agency in 2000. The agency’s first annual budget under her leadership was $23,000. The agency’s budget for 2008 is to top $500,000, Good said.
Good said the agency works to make sure every dollar is spent wisely.
“If you go back to 2001, even though the price of fuel and wages have gone up, our cost per trip has gone down,” Good said. “We get tax dollars to help us run. We’re really using those efficiently and being good stewards.”
SCAT employees and volunteers keep detailed records and account for every mile of transportation and every gallon of fuel.
Workers in SCAT’s office prepare schedules for pick-ups and drop-offs.
Drivers carry logs and record arrival times and mileage readings at each stop. Workers back in the office use the information recorded by drivers to compile daily records of every trip, every stop, every mile, every minute, Good said.
The methods are cost-efficient, but the mission is people-focused.
“The mission of SCAT is to serve the residents of Seneca County and Metro Fostoria by providing a safe, reliable, affordable, accessible, and efficient public transportation system,” according to agency publications.
A $2 fee is enough to get you from pick-up point to destination within the Tiffin City limits. A fee of $3 is enough to reach a destination within three miles of Tiffin. An extra dollar is enough to get you to a destination within seven miles of town. The longest trip possible within the county costs $5.
Residents of Fostoria do not need to live in Seneca County, Good said.
Passengers who are elderly or disabled may qualify for reduced fair rates. Those who qualify after filling out an application, ride for half-fares within the county.
“We have over 230 people who are utilizing that at this point,” Good said. “It’s a real simple application.”
SCAT provides transportation to points beyond Seneca County. Most of the trips out of the county are for medical services, Good said. Elderly or children, or ill people may not be prepared or able to drive to Columbus, Toledo or to other locations.
SCAT has traveled beyond Cleveland to the east and to Dayton to the south. Good said SCAT prefers to stay within northwest Ohio and to Columbus for most trips. SCAT has separate pricing for trips outside the county. The agency has financial assistance for many longer trips as well.
“We have never closed down any days because of snow as of yet, even at level three,” Good said.
Today could be a challenge, with several inches of snow on the ground.
Good said SCAT has coordinated with the Ohio Department of Transportation in the past to provide transportation in snowy weather. A resident of Old Fort was transported in a four-wheel-drive vehicle by SCAT to Tiffin for a dialysis treatment with a snowplow escort.
During the August flooding, SCAT coordinated with Tiffin to offer transportation to a town resident needing dialysis whose house was surrounded with water. The city used a larger truck to transport the man from his house to a point where SCAT could pick him up in an agency vehicle. After his dialysis treatment, the process was reversed for his return trip home.
Good said pets matter to SCAT, because pets matter to some people.
“If you are a senior citizen and have a pet, your pet is very important to you,” Good said. “Sometimes your pets need to go to the vet. If you can’t drive, how do your pets go to the vet? We’ve been to almost every veterinary clinic in town. The dog or cat has to be secured so they can’t bite the driver. We usually try to make it so there are no other passengers.”
About half of SCAT’s annual budget is paid by federal and state grants. The agency expects to receive over $200,000 of federal grant money for 2008. The money comes from fuel taxes. About $64,000 is to come from state grant funds.
“A lot of times we get real thrilled in Seneca County and Tiffin with the jobs and what’s happening in jobs,” Good said. “We put a payroll into this area over a quarter of a million dollars. It was $268,000 last year. That’s quite an economic impact.”
A Tiffin University marketing class recently prepared a marketing plan for SCAT, Good said. The 21-page document encompasses an overview of SCAT, goals for the agency, information about SCAT’s target market, a market analysis, marketing strategies and comments on implementing the strategies.
“They get the experience and get to have a real life model to work with,” Good said. “It’s practical. You’re not just making something up for a project. This is a real-life instance where they can apply what they learned. For us, we have fresh new knowledge. It really helps the college students and it really works great for me because they have such energy and ideas. It bounces you in a new direction.”
Good said she likes the relationship SCAT has with the local colleges. SCAT has interns from Tiffin University and Heidelberg College among its workers.
Good said the agency has a 94 percent on time record — a SCAT vehicle should arrive within 15 minutes of all pick-up appointments 94 percent of the time.
“I think we have an excellent reputation,” Good said. “I think we have good customer service and good customer relations. You don’t hear too many complaints about our organization.”
To arrange a ride or to learn more about SCAT, people can call the agency at (419) 448-7344 or (419) 937-2428. The Ohio Relay number is (800) 750-0750.
PHOTO BY KEVIN RISNER
Passenger Tony Wieging prepares to board a SCAT vehicle after conducting some personal business at Westgate.