Franklin County bus system changes will have minimal effect on riders

January 06, 2012|By ROXANN MILLER |

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Changes to Franklin County’s transportation system will have a minimal effect on the thousands of riders who rely on it every year, according to a county official.

Minor changes to Franklin County Transportation went into effect on Jan. 3, but  those who use the service shouldn’t worry that the buses will stop rolling, said Rick Wynn, county human services director.

“I don’t see anything to see us cutting back on it (transportation), but what we’re trying to do is limit some of the trips,” Wynn said.

In 2011, 1,300 riders took 56,000 trips on the county’s convoy of buses, Wynn said.

The cost of gas and the faltering Pennsylvania economy are two reasons for the change.

However, each county can update its transportation fare structure every couple of years with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

“More folks are utilizing the services, and if you have an aging population or people who need the services, you want to make sure it’s there for people,” said Erin Waters, a PennDOT spokeswoman.

PennDOT subsidizes the lion’s share of the cost to run the buses.

Other agencies also subsidize the trips, including the Pennsylvania Lottery, which sponsors more than 28,500 trips; the Medical Assistance Transportation Program, which sponsors almost 17,000 trips; the Persons with Disabilities program, which sponsors nearly 5,000 trips; and other organizations, which sponsored more than 1,600 trips last year.

Wynn said the transportation service was initially offered to older residents to take them to buy what the state calls “life necessity items.” The trips were intended for doctor’s appointments, trips to pharmacies and grocery stores, he said.

“It got a little too loose, and when the money got tight they’re (PennDOT) trying to tighten it up,” he said. “I think they are going to cut back on some of the shopping things unless it’s a life necessity.”

Wynn said the new bus format is divided into four distance zones. While the fees initially might seem expensive, the various agencies subsidize the cost.

Riders age 60 and older will not see a change in their $1.50 co-pay. However, Wynn said while riders can take trips that the Area Agency on Aging does not sponsor, riders will pay the remaining 15 percent.

Wynn said disabled persons would see a reduction when traveling one mile to 4.99 miles, but will see an increase when traveling five miles or more.

He said Medical Assistance riders would see no change.

The new Franklin County Transportation format is broken down into distance zones, including:

  • Zone 1 is between one mile to 1.99 miles. The cost is $10, or $1.50 per trip with the subsidy.
  • Zone 2 is between two miles to 4.99 miles. The cost is $15, or $2.25 per trip with the subsidy.
  • Zone 3 is between five miles and 14.99 miles. The cost is $20, or $3 per trip with the subsidy.
  • Zone 4 is 15 miles and more. The cost is $36, or $5.40 per trip with the subsidy.
For more information, call 717-264-5225.

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