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CTA makes final Waynesboro run

July 16, 2004|by RICHARD BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - A handful of passengers boarded a Chambersburg Transit Authority bus at 1 p.m. Thursday at the senior center in Waynesboro for a last ride on the government-subsidized bus system.

"I've been told to park the bus tomorrow after I make the final run in Chambersburg," Sarah Wells, the system's last driver, said Thursday.

Wells started as a full-time driver in 1997 when CTA opened its Waynesboro service at the request of senior citizens, she said.

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CTA buses began running in Chambersburg in 1991.

Federal and state money subsidizes CTA through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. The agency also was supported financially by the municipalities it serves.

This week, PennDOT denied a request by CTA's board of directors to continue the service beyond today.

The board will remain intact until CTA's books are audited. "We have money, but we can't touch it," said Sam Kuhn, acting board president.

The authority is about $1 million in debt.

Last year, it cut service to three days a week in Chambersburg and two days a week on its Waynesboro/Washington Township route.

According to authority figures, about 1,000 riders a month use the bus.

Nearly all are seniors. A few are handicapped residents. Riders take the bus to medical appointments, drug stores, for grocery shopping and going to Waynesboro and Wayne Heights malls.

Stanley Davis, 78, and Ruth Davis, 72, retired in 1992 and moved to 224 W. North St. from Staten Island, N.Y. They haven't owned a car since they moved to Waynesboro.

They are typical riders who use the bus every Tuesday and Thursday, the two days it serves Waynesboro. Both were on the last ride Thursday.

In addition to shopping and doctor's appointments, the bus takes them to the Waynesboro Senior Center for lunch, to their favorite health-food store, the post office and library, Ruth Davis said.

"This is going to be a real hardship for some people," she said.

"A lot of people just ride the bus to get out of the house," Wells said. "They were apartment-bound until the bus started."

A half-hour, round-trip ride with four seniors Thursday shows that the bus offers more than just basic transportation. There's a lot of chitchat across the aisle and a fair share of gossip.

All were lamenting the loss of their free bus service.

Peg Wolff, 74, of Garfield Street, said she rides the bus every day it runs. She goes to the senior center, the malls and drug store.

Peg Gillespie, 63, of Anthony Avenue, said the bus will become more necessary once Wal-Mart and other stores open next fall in a new shopping center in Washington Township.

Helen Bryson, 80, of Landis Avenue, and Mary Rohrbaugh, 90, of Welty Road, both in Washington Township, were eating lunch at the senior center Thursday.

Both still are driving, but don't know for how much longer. They worry that they won't be able to get around without bus service.

"I'm sorry we're losing it," said Thelma Kell, acting manager of the senior center. "A lot of people depend on it."

"They can put thousands of dollars into playgrounds and the swimming pool for young people, but they won't spend money for senior citizens," Gillespie said.

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