New bus route would link Hamilton’s 2nd Ward, Lindenwald with jobs

The city in 2017 hopes to add a bus route through the city’s 2nd Ward and Lindenwald neighborhoods to link people there with jobs in other parts of Hamilton.

City Manager Joshua Smith last week during his State of the City speech announced he will recommend that Hamilton City Council put money for the bus route — at least the city's share of one —into the 2017 city budget.

“We know that in certain areas of town, we have people with less car ownership that have less ability to get to a job,” Smith said. “We’re going to work very hard. We’ve had some recent discussions with the Butler County Regional Transit Authority. How do we ramp this up?”

He added: “We know the jobs are there, we know which jobs are coming. How do we get the workforce there?”

That is very good news to Fabian Schmahl, the president and CEO of Thyssenkrupp Bilstein of America, who leads a company that makes highly tunable automotive shock absorbers and is growing quickly in Hamilton.

“The concept is really about connecting the dots,” Schmahl said. “As an employer, we are looking for qualified employees. There’s a community out there ready to work and we can’t allow restricted access to transportation to be a hurdle to uniting businesses with talented people.”

"Maybe it's my European roots, but I believe in public transportation," Schmahl said. "I am fully behind the R6-Job Connection, what we have today is a great start. Now we need to continue to optimize and expand these routes. The city is going in the right direction and I'm very impressed by its vision."

Also approving the proposed route was the Rev. Michael Reeves Jr., president of the NAACP’s Hamilton, Fairfield and West Chester unit.

“The idea of a proposed transit route that goes through the Lindenwald and 2nd Ward communities would be an excellent addition to this part of the community,” Reeves said. “These communities suffer now from a lack of transportation for many residents. This in turn makes it hard, for some residents to obtain gainful employment.

Reeves added: “This added form of transportation could very well be a catalyst to shrink unemployment, decrease crime and lower the homeless rate.”

Officials in late held a transit job fair to help local residents learn to ride Butler County Regional Transit Authority buses to jobs.

Smith during his State of the State speech noted more than 2,000 new jobs are on the way to Hamilton, thanks to companies like Thyssenkrupp Bilstein, StarTek and Barclaycard, as well as the proposed Spooky Nook at Champion Mill.

According to the city, the downtown area has 2,000 jobs now, with another 535 on the way. The southwest area of the city, near Miami University Hamilton’s campus, has 800 jobs now, with 1,300 more committed to come. The southeast area of the city has 1,900 jobs now, with 250 more on the way. And the northwest area of the city has 1,200 jobs, with 50 more committed to coming.

“The proposed route has not been finalized,” Smith told the Journal-News. “The goal would be to hit key intersections in the 2nd Ward and Lindenwald, to connect residents to available job openings.​”

Smith called Schmahl a local leader in pushing for greater transit service to connect available workforce to employers, and has noted officials from the county, United Way and other organizations have participated in discussions.

“While we plan to discuss opportunities with other employers, we generally want to link east-side neighborhoods to areas that have large concentration of jobs, specifically downtown Hamilton, University Commerce Park/Vora Tech Park and the Enterprise Park area,” Smith said.

The costs have not been determined. The city will seek funds from others to help make the route happen, Smith said.

“As we did with funding ​the Job Connector with BCRTA, we will explore multiple sources of funding,” he said. “As with many of the recent accomplishments in Butler County, they were accomplished with multiple partners. In the coming months, we will have conversations with Butler County, the Hamilton Community Foundation, United Way, large employers and others.”

Matthew Dutkevicz, executive director of BCRTA, was not available to comment.

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