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Chambersburg council wants more information on bus line

February 10, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Chambersburg Transit Authority and borough officials met Monday to discuss the future of the local bus system, but Council President William F. McLaughlin says the council needs more information before deciding what role, if any, it will play.

"I'd say we have a lot of distance between us before any decision can be made regarding CTA's future," McLaughlin said after Monday night's council meeting. He said the council will discuss the matter in more detail at its Monday, Feb. 23 meeting.

Attending the meeting was Sharon A. Daboin, PennDOT's acting deputy secretary for local and area transportation, whom authority Chairman James Jenkins said he invited down from Harrisburg, Pa., to demonstrate the state's support for the recovery plan.

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"PennDOT and the federal government have both bought into the recovery plan," Jenkins said Monday night.

"If Chambersburg doesn't support it, the only thing left for CTA would be to cease to exist," Jenkins said. "I don't see any other possibility because they are the governing municipality."

Last month, the authority board voted to accept the recommendations of a recovery plan drafted by a transportation consultant. The five-year plan included projections for how the system could remain in operation and pay off debts estimated at approximately $1 million that have accumulated in recent years.

The plan also recommended the board resign to give the council an opportunity to either name new board members or re-appoint some or all of the current board's members.

"The numbers that the plan was based on are old. We want new numbers," McLaughlin said. The council has to decide if it is interested in continuing the service, and if so, at what cost, he said.

The council president said he wants to see more up-to-date figures on cash flow, ridership, the borough's local contribution and other projections over the five-year period.

The local match is required to access the state and federal funds for the system, according to Jenkins.

The borough had supplied fuel for the buses in recent months and Jenkins said forgiveness of that debt could be considered part of Chambersburg's local match.

How the proposal for the board members' resignations is handled is another question, according to McLaughlin.

"I don't want to get into a position where there's no governing authority because of resignations," he said. Some board members indicated at the authority's January meeting that they would offer their resignations effective 60 days from the Jan. 26 meeting of the borough council, but council has not acted on the offers.

Another recommendation of the recovery plan was that operation of the system be subcontracted to an experienced private contractor.

As financial problems mounted last year, the authority cut its schedule drastically reduce expenditures while still keeping buses in service. Buses have been serving the Chambersburg area three days a week and Waynesboro, Pa., two days a week.

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