Couple plans to offer Pa. bus service

January 09, 1997


Staff Writer, Waynesboro

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - A Grove Worldwide executive and his wife plan to offer a private bus service in the Waynesboro area starting March 1.

The announcement by Bob Backer, vice president of engineering at Grove, and his wife Ann, stunned a packed crowd at Waynesboro Borough Hall Wednesday night that had come to support the proposed public bus service that would be run by the Chambersburg Transit Authority from Zullinger through Waynesboro to Rouzerville.

"I know this might be a bombshell to some of you," he said.

Backer said he has already purchased a 15-seat 1990 Ford bus, and has been making test runs. Backer said he would like to complement or supplement the public service.


"It's not a pipe dream," he said. "It's parked across the street."

Backer said his initial route would probably run from Rouzerville, where he lives, to Waynesboro Thursday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., he said, with charter routes Monday through Wednesday. Initially, he and family members would drive the bus, he said.

He said he didn't yet know how much he would charge for the service.

He also said he has committed to running the service for a year whether he makes money or not.

"Like anybody else I'd like to make a profit," he said. "If nothing else, I'm going to have one heck of a recreational vehicle a year from now," he said.

He said he has contacted Franklin County Area Development Corporation President L. Michael Ross and others about possible subsidies for his service, and also plans to get in touch with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

Backer said he has been thinking about providing bus service since October 1995, but said that his plans weren't solid until recent months. He said he applied to the Public Utilities Commission for a license and received approval in November to run a bus route from Gettysburg to Waynesboro to Greencastle to Chambersburg, and points in between, including Quincy and Mont Alto.

Backer said he purchased the bus Dec. 26, and didn't want to come forward before now because he didn't have concrete plans.

The bus is not handicapped accessible, but he was looking into the possibility of modifying it for handicapped use, he said.

Doug Filson, the manager of the Chambersburg Transit Authority, said he still wanted to move ahead with an application for the public bus service which the authority, Waynesboro and Washington Township have been working on for more than a year.

Filson said the application for the one-bus service was complete and ready to send to PennDOT. State officials have voiced support for the heavily subsidized service. Washington Township and Waynesboro officials still need to get together with Filson and sign agreements before the application can be sent to the state. Filson said the service could be up and running within days of receiving state approval.

"This is like right out of the clear blue sky," said Washington Township Manager Mike Christopher.

Backer said he didn't want funding from the municipalities, but said he did want input on where he should put his stops and help with advertising.

Filson said he didn't think Backer could make a profit, and said if Backer runs a route similar to the new bus service, both would suffer.

Waynesboro Borough Council members expressed hope that the two systems could coexist and cooperate.

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