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Pa. bus service growth studied

June 07, 2000|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Expanded public bus service to Waynesboro and Washington Township, including a first-ever run up the mountain on Pa. 16 East to Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., is being considered by the Chambersburg Transit Authority, its director said Tuesday.

The amount the two local governments pay for their share of the service will increase, CTA Director Eva Verdier said.

The two local governments now subsidize the system with annual grants of $4,474 each. Beginning with the fiscal year starting July 1, that will go up by $1,175 to $5,549, Verdier said. After three years the local subsidies will drop to $4,818 per year.

The system operates on an annual budget of $459,000. The amount of the federal subsidy depends on the size of the deficit each year after income from advertising on the buses and fares are determined.

The federal government, which finances the lion's share of the system, will increase its subsidy from $113,000 to $165,000 next year, Verdier said.

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Ridership in Waynesboro and Washington Township was up last month, Verdier said. In April, 1,280 people, or six an hour, rode the bus. In May it went up to 1,441, or 6.5 an hour.

One bus serves the Waynesboro and Washington Township routes Monday through Saturday. The average for the year in the area has been 70 riders per day. The authority's goal is 90 per day or 10 per hour.

Verdier said new marketing strategies will go into effect in July to increase ridership in the two municipalities.

All of the communities served by the seven-bus, one-van system will be paying higher subsidies next year. Besides Waynesboro and Washington Township, they include the Borough of Chambersburg and Greene and Hamilton townships.

Verdier declined to say how much the subsidies will increase until she meets with local officials.

She said service in Chambersburg will be expanded next year and a run is being considered to Blue Ridge Summit in Washington Township. Residents there have been requesting bus service to Waynesboro.

Also, Verdier said, salaries for the system's 18 drivers, including seven full-timers, will be increased to make the authority more competitive with comparable public bus systems in the state and one private system in Franklin County.

Drivers' pay now ranges from $7.20 to $8.80 an hour. The new salary scale, which takes effect July 1, raises the range from $8.25 to $15.75, plus cost-of-living allowances. Verdier said she has had trouble keeping drivers under the current pay scale.

The system is taking on $1.2 million in capital improvement projects over the next three years, including a new building to house its offices and a bus storage garage. It also buying three new large buses at a cost of $372,000 to bring the fleet up to 10 units plus the van.

A site for the new building has not be selected yet, Verdier said. The authority is now headquartered at 437 Wolf Ave. in Chambersburg.

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