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Transit Authority director to resign

January 08, 2003|by RICHARD BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The executive director of the financially troubled Chambersburg Transit Authority said Tuesday she will leave her post at the end of the month.

Eva McKula, who has worked for the authority for seven years, including nearly four at its helm, said she has become exhausted from the financial woes that have plagued the heavily subsidized public bus system in recent years.

She said the job also has taken too much time from her family. She has two children.

Her last day on the job will be Jan. 31, she said.

McKula said she had been thinking about leaving for some time but didn't want to leave the board with a system with problems.

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"I didn't want to leave the job when things were at their worst and the doors were going to be closed," she said. "I told the board Dec. 12 that I wanted to resign, but that I didn't want to leave them stranded. I'm willing to stay on in an advisory role, but I don't want to be executive director anymore."

Transit buses run in the boroughs of Chambersburg and Waynesboro, as well as Greene, Hamilton and Washington townships. The municipalities contribute to the system each year, but the lion's share of the CTA's $340,000 annual budget comes from federal funds funneled through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

The publicly supported bus company has been running in the red for the last three years and had accrued debt of more than $330,000 by last fall.

In October, the buses were nearly parked when the agency was unable to come up with $75,000 to pay for the next year's liability insurance premium. That crisis ended when the insurer agreed to take a half-payment and keep the policy in effect.

The insurer more than doubled the premium after the authority lost a federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission suit filed by an employee in 2000. The insurance company had to pay more than $50,000 in damages when the authority lost the suit.

Ridership has always been a problem, especially in the Waynesboro-area runs.

McKula cut the number of bus routes as a cost-saving measure.

Most of the system's riders are senior citizens who board the buses for free. Other riders pay $1 for one-way rides.

The system has been in operation since 1991. Service in Waynesboro began in 1997 at the request of local senior citizen groups.

James Jenkins, chairman of the CTA's board of directors, said the board would begin discussions on McKula's replacement when it meets Monday.

"The board feels that Eva did a very good job considering the circumstances she had to work with," Jenkins said. Her leaving will be a blow to the system, he said.

Michael A. Christopher, Washington Township administrator, said McKula was always a pleasure to work with.

"She gave it her best shot," Christopher said. "This is a very interesting time for CTA, time for the board to deal with its personnel and financial difficulties."

"She did her best to keep the system running," Waynesboro Borough Manager Lloyd Hamberger said. "The board won't find anyone who cared more for her job or who tried harder."

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