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Commuter services program seeks to ease traffic congestion

Commuter Services of Pennsylvania encourages things like carpooling, biking, walking and telecommuting

June 01, 2010|By JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. -- A new commuter services program in Franklin County, Pa., will partner with businesses and employees to ease traffic congestion, the county commissioners said Tuesday in announcing the initiative.

Establishing carpools, work-at-home opportunities and alternative transportation will also reduce the environmentally harmful impact of passenger vehicles, they said.

"I think it's a tremendous opportunity on many levels," said David Keller, the commissioners' chairman.

Commuter Services of Pennsylvania comes to Franklin County through the county's newly formed rural planning organization. The RPO works with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to make transportation decisions for the county.

Using state and federal funds, Commuter Services of Pennsylvania operates in nine counties in the south-central portion of the state. The program encourages things like carpooling, biking, walking and telecommuting.

A website -- http://www.pacommuterservices.org -- and hot line (866-579-RIDE) are used as information clearinghouses for commuters to connect with people who live and work near them.

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Brandy Heilman, the organization's executive director, said an "emergency ride home" program provides financial reimbursement for carpoolers who need to get home midshift. It also goes into effect if the carpool driver has to leave work suddenly.

David Sciamanna and Noel Purdy from the Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce said theirs and other Chambers will be telling employers about the services. Part of those discussions will touch on the concept of staggering shifts to ease traffic congestion at peak times, they said.

The program would serve Maryland and West Virginia residents driving to Pennsylvania for work, Heilman said.

"When we have less cars on the road, that helps with all of our transportation problems," said Bob Thomas, a commissioner who serves as RPO chairman.

Jonathan Fitzkee, board chairman of Commuter Services of Pennsylvania, said it's important to tailor the program to individual employers and commuters.

"For some people, it's going to work, and for some, it won't," he said.

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