Bus service to resume in Waynesboro

October 21, 2003|by DON AINES

The Chambersburg Transit Authority, which drastically cut routes and seemed on the verge of folding last spring, will resume limited service in the Waynesboro, Pa., area next month thanks to an infusion of cash from the state.

The board of directors voted Monday night to resume service in Waynesboro and Washington Township on Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning Nov. 4. The service will include the same 27 stops that were on the daily route when it was suspended in March, according to Office Administrator Deb Rotz.

Service will begin at 9 a.m. at the Waynesboro Senior Activities Center, and the approximately 90-minute loop will be run three times each day - twice in the morning and a third run beginning at 1:05 p.m. - according to the schedule.


The authority's board also voted to revamp its Chambersburg schedule, cutting the route time from three to two hours, primarily by shortening the time allowed for each stop, according to Rotz. One stop at the Food Lion east of the borough will be cut and another at the Cumberland Valley Mental Health Center on South Main Street will be made an "on demand" stop, with the bus only stopping if someone is waiting for a ride.

Rotz said a lot of older riders have quit using the bus service because the three-hour route was too long. Rotz said ridership continued to fall through the summer from 501 in July to 343 in September.

The 23-stop loop will operate from 8:50 a.m. to 5 p.m., according to the schedule.

In June, the authority appeared to have about run its course, but the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has been providing funding through the Public Transportation Assistance Fund and Act III, another state subsidy based on senior citizen ridership.

The assistance fund budgeted $228,000 to the authority for the budget year that began July 1, according to James Jenkins, authority president.

Jenkins said Act III payments vary from month to month and he does not know how much the authority will receive from that funding source this year.

The board also authorized the authority to enter into two contracts, one with Franklin/Fulton Mental Health/Mental Retardation to provide rides to about nine clients at $4 per boarding. Bus fare for most riders is $1.25.

Board members also voted to authorize a contract with the Lincoln Intermediate Unit to drive participants in a migrant student after-school program home from Chambersburg Area Middle School three days a week for $4,000 for the year.

Jenkins said the authority's accounts had $50,848 Monday, but it has to pay $25,000 on a $69,000 insurance package this week, with the rest due by Nov. 24. Payments from the two state funds, however, also are scheduled to arrive this week, he said.

Although the 2003-04 budget year is well under way, the authority still has not seen a recovery plan and proposed budget from a consultant hired by the department of transportation to untangle its financial situation. Jenkins said the consultant submitted a report to the state.

The recovery plan would detail how the authority will pay off its debts. Both the state and federal transportation officials have audited the authority, but the extent of its debt remains unclear, since the board has not received the audit results, Jenkins said.

An independent audit reviewed in May indicated that, as of June 30, 2002, the authority had assets of $321,000 against liabilities of $1,050,000, but the audit period ended prior to operations being cut in March of this year.

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