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Low ridership could halt Pa. bus service

March 15, 1998|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

Low ridership could halt Pa. bus service

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Last summer more than 500 senior citizens in Waynesboro and Washington Township signed up to use the bus service coming to town, but so few seem to be riding it that it may be pulled off the road.

Ridership is averaging about four passengers per trip, below the 10 anticipated when the service was launched Sept. 9 at the Public Square in Waynesboro.

Waynesboro Borough Manager Lloyd Hamberger said Thursday that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is threatening to end its subsidy June 30 if ridership does not improve.

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PennDOT, through federal and state grants, is subsidizing the Waynesboro service for about $79,000, said Douglas S. Filson, director of the Chambersburg Transit Authority, which provides the Waynesboro bus.

The Waynesboro Borough Council and Washington Township Supervisors put up about $4,000 each to help pay the $113,000 cost to run the system. The rest comes from fares and advertising, Filson said.

Those 65 and older ride for free. Others pay $1 to ride the 18-mile, 30-stop run from Zullinger to Rouzerville, Pa.

Low ridership can't be blamed on senior citizens alone, said Donald Haugh, spokesman for the North End Chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons in Waynesboro.

That chapter and the one in the borough's south end lobbied hard for the bus service. He said senior citizens are not the only ones who have to ride the bus to make it pay for itself.

"I'm concerned and I'm discouraged. I helped to bring it in. More than 500 people signed cards saying they would use the bus, but they don't ride it," he said. "We push it all the time at our meetings."

Haugh said the bus drivers provide good service.

"There shouldn't be any gripes about them. They're on time and they'll stop for anybody. They've been marvelous," Haugh said.

Hamberger said PennDOT is not satisfied with an average of four riders an hour.

There are sufficient funds to take the bus service through to June 30, Hamberger said.

"After that, it may be a different story. It's up to the people to use it or they'll lose it. No one wants to see it go," Hamberger said.

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