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Transit service faces cash crisis

The director of the Chambersburg Transit Authority says the system needs to pay its insurance premium by the end of the month or

The director of the Chambersburg Transit Authority says the system needs to pay its insurance premium by the end of the month or

October 16, 2002|by RICHARD BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

Chambersburg Transit Authority public buses that roll through Chambersburg and four Franklin County municipalities will be parked permanently after Oct. 31 unless CTA comes up with $75,000 to pay next year's liability insurance premiums, the authority's executive director said Tuesday.

"We can't run without insurance," Eva McKula, the CTA executive director, said at an emergency meeting in the Greene Township Municipal Office in Scotland, Pa.

The insurance company that provides liability coverage to CTA wants the premium paid in full by Oct. 31, she said.

In addition, McKula said, the publicly-supported bus company has been running in the red for the last three years and has now accrued debt of more than $330,000.

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"If we don't find the money for the insurance premium we'll have to end service in two weeks,"

McKula told officials of the communities served by the system.

Municipalities served by Transit Authority buses include Chambersburg, the townships of Greene, Hamilton and Washington and the Borough of Waynesboro.

An emergency committee of authority members, representatives from some of the municipalities it serves and volunteers was organized Tuesday to try to find the $75,000 to keep the buses running.

The lion's share of CTA's operating expenses come from federal and state funds funneled through PennDOT in three-year cycles.

McKula said the authority lost a federal Equal Employment Opportunity suit filed by an employee two years ago. The insurance company, which paid out $50,000 in damages, has since raised its premium rates, adding to CTA's financial woes.

The system has been in operation since 1991. Last year's ridership was more than 80,000, McKula said.

About half of the riders who board the buses are senior citizens, she said. They ride for free. Others pay $1 for one-way rides.

She said the Authority used to make money by selling ads on the buses, but the office has been too short-staffed to do that.

"We're operating on a skeleton crew," McKula said.

The Authority will streamline some of its runs in a cost-savings effort, McKula said.

"The bottom line is that the Authority has been running a deficit for more than three years and we have to figure out a way to make it up," said Lloyd Hamberger, Waynesboro borough manager.

Hamberger and other local managers and administrators told McKula they need more details and better figures on the deficit.

A committee of Authority and municipal officials will be formed to work out the long-term deficit problem if and when the more immediate problem of finding the money to pay the insurance premium is solved.

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