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New Bus Service Helps Amish

May 13, 1999

HOMERVILLE, Ohio (AP) _ To travel from this small village to the center of local government, members of this Amish community have to drive their horse-drawn buggies along a busy roadway as cars and trucks speed ahead of them.

For a buggy driver traveling 10 mph, the 30-mile trip can be hazardous and stressful. But now, officials in Medina County are offering people of the religious sect a new mode of transportation with a once-a-week bus route.

``Most of the roads are busier than they were,″ said Annie Keim, who thinks her Amish community in Homerville will appreciate the new county-run bus service.

The Amish are known for shunning modern conveniences and taught to live apart from the world and abstain from worldly goods. Some 150,000 Amish live in 22 states and Canada.

Although most don’t own motor vehicles, they can ride in vehicles driven by others.

Medina County is not the only government concerned about traffic in Amish communities. In Lower Oxford, Pa. last fall, county officials began offering bus rides for children walking to school out of concern that one of could be struck in busy traffic.

In Medina County, the bus service, called the Homerville Community Circulator, debuted last Friday. It runs one round trip between Homerville, located about 45 miles southwest of Cleveland, and Medina, which is home to county government offices and courts, a hospital and numerous stores.

John Jones, director of the Medina County Transportation Department, said Wednesday that only two people rode the first day, but four or five Amish stopped the bus to ask about the schedule.

He expects ridership to grow as the 250-family Amish community in Homerville and adjacent Homer Township learns about the service.

The round trip costs $12.10, which Jones estimated is about half what a taxicab would charge. Riders can leave the bus and get back on three times on the same fare.

The bus service replaced a system like a taxicab service in which people phoned to request a ride. Most Amish don’t have telephones and their mail requests sometimes were received too late, Jones said.

There have been at least 14 deaths and 809 injuries in more than 1,000 buggy accidents in Ohio since 1990. The state has begun building special lanes for buggies, but there are no buggy lanes in the Homerville area.

There are an estimated 45,000 Amish in Ohio, most living in Holmes County, 30 miles southwest of Akron.

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