RRTA, Berks Transit Merger Complete

It is the state’s largest transit merger, and it is now official.

Lancaster County officials and Red Red Rose Transit Authority leaders took a little trip just over the Berks County line Thursday morning to meet with their Berks counterparts — and celebrate a transit consolidation nearly a year in the making.

They have established the new South Central Transit Authority to oversee both the Lancaster-area RRTA and the Berks Area Regional Transit Authority.

The RRTA name and logo on buses, as with BARTA in Berks, will not change, and the public may not notice much of a difference, transit official David Kilmer said Thursday, “We’re on a good track, and ready to move forward,” said Kilmer, who was named executive director of the new SCTA, which will oversee operations of both RRTA and BARTA.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/rrta-berks-transit-merger-complete/article_dc4c0840-817c-11e4-b535-1b031a28a372.html

Easton Business Owners Excited About Parking, Patrons From Intermodal Center

The photographer was snapping, the baby was smiling and the mother was beaming. Everything was running smoothly at Time Photo Studios in Easton’s Centre Square until the mother brought the shoot to an abrupt halt.

“She had to run down to Second Street to feed the meter,” said studio co-owner Tara Hawthorne.

Customers won’t have to worry so much about parking when the new intermodal center opens at 123 S. Third St. The 350-space parking deck is blocks away from businesses like Hawthorne’s, and the business community says its customers and employees will appreciate new parking options.

“People can go Downtown and not worry about getting a parking ticket,” agreed Pasquale Crisci, owner of Antonio’s Pizzeria across South Third Street from the new intermodal center.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/easton/index.ssf/2014/12/easton_business_owners_excited.html

Light Up Night, Games, Shows, Concert To Attract 400,000 To Downtown Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh from Mt. Washington

Pittsburgh from Mt. Washington

Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership expects more than 400,000 people to jam Downtown on Friday night as Light Up Night coincides with a Penguins game, WPIAL championships at Heinz Field and a crowded Petersen Events Center in Oakland likely triggering traffic headaches and a parking shortage.

The Andy Warhol Bridge will close at 9 a.m.; the Roberto Clemente Bridge will close at 10 a.m., both remaining closed until midnight. A host of roads Downtown will close in the afternoon.

“With Light Up Night, we encourage people to use public transportation. People can look at parking on the North Shore and taking T,” said Leigh White, vice president of marketing and communications for the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.

“There’s a lot of different, good options like parking at Station Square. People can come in early and have dinner, and it’s a great day to take in other things around town.”

Read more: http://triblive.com/aande/moreaande/7174806-74/downtown-pittsburgh-garage#ixzz3JdGYCXfM
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Public Meetings Set To Air SEPTA Rail Extension Of Norristown High-Speed Line To Upper Merion

Location of Upper Merion Township in Montgomer...

Location of Upper Merion Township in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

UPPER MERION TOWNSHIP, PA – Residents in both Upper Merion and Norristown will be presented this week with four alternative routes to extend the Norristown high-speed rail line into Upper Merion in a proposed, $500 million, SEPTA rail project.

Both meetings will run from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday. The Upper Merion meeting on Monday will be held at the Radisson Hotel at Valley Forge, 1160 First Ave. and the Norristown meeting on Wednesday will be held at Norristown municipal hall, 235 E. Airy St.

Byron Comati, director of strategic planning and analysis for SEPTA, will present the four alternative routes winnowed down from 16 route variations. He will be joined by project manager and engineer Elizabeth Smith, an AECOM consulting engineer and Burt Cossaboon, a vice president of McCormick Taylor.

Read more:  http://www.timesherald.com/general-news/20141114/public-meetings-set-to-air-septa-rail-extension-of-norristown-high-speed-line-to-upper-merion

Amid Ridership Surge, SEPTA Trains Are Packed

English: personal photo

English: personal photo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

SEPTA is shuffling equipment and workers to try to deal with chronic crowding problems on Regional Rail trains, as ridership rises and old cars and locomotives break down more frequently.

Even the 120 new Silverliner V cars that have arrived since 2010 to replace 73 old cars have not solved the overcrowding issue.

About 15 percent of SEPTA’s rail cars are out of service on any given day, while passenger counts are up 4 percent from last year and 50 percent from 15 years ago.

“The trains are so full that it’s even hard to find room to stand,” said Katrina Claghorn, a dietitian who commutes daily from Wayne to 30th Street Station. “It started getting bad over the summer, and now the trains are packed when they pull into 30th Street Station on the Paoli line.”

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/20141009_Amid_ridership_surge__SEPTA_shuffles_workers__trains_to_ease_crowding.html#WCQjedUsbj5PMw5Y.99

High Hopes For $38 Million Project In Pleasantville

Map of New Jersey highlighting Atlantic County

Map of New Jersey highlighting Atlantic County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PLEASANTVILLE, N.J. – This down-on-its-luck stepsister town to neighboring Atlantic City has struggled economically for decades, languishing without a redevelopment plan or the ability to attract private investment.

But a $38 million project that includes two apartment buildings and retail space on a vacant Main Street block is expected to set the cornerstone for economic growth and expanded development in the Atlantic County city, according to Jacqueline Amado-Belton, economic development director for the City of Pleasantville.

“We feel like we have borne the brunt of a lot of issues that have spilled over from Atlantic City over the years,” Amado-Belton said. “In terms of perception and other factors, it’s been a struggle and a challenge to get to this point.”

The Pleasantville City Center, expected to be completed by next summer, will add 135 apartments and 18,000 square feet of retail space and will be bordered by Main Street, Washington Avenue, Milan Avenue, and South Second Street.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/new_jersey/20141006_High_hopes_for__38_million_project_in_Pleasantville.html#ZlSiLKCqFZQAdj9H.99

Changes Coming To Lancaster And Berks Transit, But A Combined New Authority Won’t Look Different To Bus Riders

Picture 565Lancaster’s Red Rose Transit Authority board took its first formal step toward a merger with Berks County’s BARTA system on Wednesday.

But the combined South Central Transit Authority will be indistinguishable from the present RRTA and BARTA.

“We’ll form a new authority and nobody will know the difference,” RRTA Executive Director David Kilmer said.

The single authority will operate RRTA and BARTA buses in their respective counties. The names on the buses will not change, nor will their colors.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/changes-coming-to-lancaster-and-berks-transit-but-a-combined/article_090e5798-3ec5-11e4-a7b4-001a4bcf6878.html

MCCC Earns GVF Platinum Sustainability Award For Transportation Initiatives

MCCC

GVF Assistant Director Maureen Farrell (far right) and Action News Anchor Matt O’Donnell (far left) present (from left) Peggy Lee-Clark, MCCC executive director of government relations, and Dr. Celeste Schwartz, MCCC vice president for information technology and college services, with a platinum level sustainability award.

King of Prussia, Pa.— For the fourth consecutive year, Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) earned a platinum-level sustainability award from the Greater Valley Forge Management Association (GVF) on Sept. 8 during the organization’s annual Sustainability Breakfast. MCCC was one of 32 organizations recognized for sustainability efforts in 2014.

MCCC partners with GVF to operate a campus shuttle service between its Blue Bell and Pottstown campuses and, for the first time this fall, between its Blue Bell campus and Culinary Arts Institute in Lansdale. Last year, more than 10,400 riders took advantage of the free, 20-passenger shuttle, which is equipped with wi-fi to support student success.

On Earth Day 2014, MCCC and GVF introduced a new vehicle that runs on compressed natural gas (CNG), which, according to the Alternative Fuels Data Center, will further reduce emissions by 11 tons of carbon dioxide over the next year based on the 28,560 miles driven and 3,483 gallons of diesel fuel used in 2013. Prior to the introduction of the CNG vehicle, MCCC’s shuttle program helped to eliminate approximately 54,527 metric tons of carbon emissions and reduce vehicle usage by 522,144 miles annually.

In addition to the shuttle program, MCCC also employs Zimride, an industry leading rideshare service that provides a safe and easy way for students and staff to arrange carpooling through college community network that fully integrates with Facebook. Since launching Zimride in 2011, MCCC’s network has logged 1,461,492 carpool miles.

At the College’s Central Campus in Blue Bell, drivers of electric, hybrid, and conventional vehicles that average 25 MPG or greater, as well as carpoolers and shuttle riders, have the opportunity to park in a designated, convenient 185-space parking lot adjacent to the Advanced Technology Center. Electric vehicle charging stations are available in the Green Lot, as well as in the South Hall parking lot at the West Campus in Pottstown.

Other transportation initiatives include a Segway program for public safety officers in Pottstown, electric and hybrid vehicles for public safety and facilities staff in Blue Bell, and an increased effort to promote bicycle accessibility at all MCCC locations.

Since signing the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment in 2007, Montgomery County Community College has put into place policies and procedures to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. As a result of its efforts, MCCC is a two-time recipient of Second Nature’s national Climate Leadership Award.  To learn more about MCCC’s sustainability initiative, visit http://www.mc3green.wordpress.com.

Mon Valley Transit Merger Decision Might Come Next Month

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Washington County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Washington County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The future of transit services in the Mon Valley and throughout Washington County likely will be decided in the next month.

The Middle Monongahela Transit Authority provides services for 21 Valley municipalities. It has been studying a possible merger with Washington County Transportation – also known as Washington County Rides – and the City of Washington Transit Authority.

The MMVTA board will discuss a possible merger in a closed-door meeting this week.

By the end of September, each transit agency is expected to vote on consolidation. The MMVTA board could vote either at its Aug. 28 or Sept. 25 public meetings.

Read more: http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/yourmonvalley/yourmonvalleymore/6623980-74/transit-board-valley#ixzz3AlflikFi
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Website Ranks Centre Area Transportation Authority 8th In Nation For Per Capita Usage

Counties constituting the Happy Valley Region ...

Counties constituting the Happy Valley Region of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

— Steven Maria caught a few rays of Wednesday afternoon sunshine while waiting for his ride.

Maria, a 19-year-old Penn State student, sat on a bench along Beaver Avenue in front of the Centre Area Transportation Authority office — the nerve center for one of the nation’s busiest transit systems.

“I use the bus all the time to get home,” he said.

He’s one of the thousands of riders each day who prove that just because State College is a small town, it doesn’t mean it can’t hold its own with a major metropolis.

Testimony: Luzerne County Transit Authority Employees Worked In Fear

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ROYALTON, PA — Employees at the Luzerne County Transportation Authority worked in constant fear of losing their jobs unless they fraudulently inflated ridership numbers, and the former chairman of the board knew about it years ago, according to testimony heard Monday.

Prosecutors began laying out their case against Executive Director Stanley J. Strelish, 60, and Operations Manager Robb Alan Henderson, 58, who were charged last month with conspiring to inflate senior citizen ridership numbers in the “ghost rider” scandal.

Both men, who are free on unsecured bond and remain suspended without pay, declined to comment following an all-day preliminary hearing held Monday before Magisterial District Judge David Judy. The hearing, which continues today, represents the first public testimony in the case.

Robert Turinski, former LCTA board chairman, testified that he suspected Strelish was inflating senior ridership numbers as far back as 2007.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/testimony-lcta-employees-worked-in-fear-1.1719124

LCTA Officials Placed On Leave After Charges

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Two key Luzerne County Transportation Authority figures charged Wednesday in the “ghost rider” scandal have been placed on administrative leave pending an emergency board meeting next week, according to a memo leaked to the media.

Executive Director Stanley J. Strelish, 60, is facing charges including theft by deception, tampering with public records, unsworn falsification, false swearing and obstructing justice. Operations Manager Robb Alan Henderson, 58, is charged with conspiring to tamper with public records, aiding the commission of a crime and conspiring to obstruct justice.

Prosecutors say the men’s orders led drivers to count hundreds of thousands of riders who didn’t exist, resulting in millions of dollars in overfunding from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

According to a memo to the board from authority solicitor Joseph M. Blazosek, Strelish and Henderson were placed on administrative leave during a personnel committee meeting Wednesday pending board action at an emergency meeting set for 5 p.m. Tuesday. The memo does not disclose whether the leave is paid or unpaid, and Blazosek did not return a message seeking comment Thursday.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/lcta-officials-placed-on-leave-after-charges-1.1698699

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SEPTA Aims For Happier Riders, Unveils 5-Year Plan

SEPTA logo

SEPTA logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With increased state funding and stable ridership, SEPTA officials are unveiling a five-year plan to attract more riders, repair crumbling infrastructure, and improve customer satisfaction.

Having emerged from last year’s doomsday scenarios into a hopeful era of what SEPTA planners call “innovation, integration and renewal,” the officials on Tuesday outlined a blueprint for the future that will be presented to the agency’s board for approval in July.

Meeting with transit users and supporters at SEPTA’s Center City headquarters, Byron Comati, director of strategic planning, said legislative approval late last year of a $2.3 billion boost in statewide transportation funding allows SEPTA to plan more boldly.

By 2018, the additional state funding will mean a boost of about $400 million annually for SEPTA to repair bridges, buy new vehicles and upgrade stations and equipment.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/20140521_SEPTA_aims_for_happier_riders__unveils_5-year_plan.html#erJVxPXXeAuIyUU6.99

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Lehigh University South Side Initiative Looking To Get Campus Bus Into City

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lehigh University runs buses to the Lehigh Valley Mall and The Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley.

But not into South Side Bethlehem.

Some at Lehigh are looking to change that. It’s an idea that came out of an open community meeting held last month by Lehigh’s South Side Initiative.

“So many here at Lehigh depend on the bus or the bus system that wraps through the upper and lower campus,” said John Pettegrew, the initiative’s director. “It would just be a practical addition to include a route that goes into Third Street and possibly SteelStacks or any other destinations.”

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/bethlehem/index.ssf/2014/04/lehigh_university_south_side_i.html

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Cuts In Suburban Pittsburgh Bus Routes Changed Lives

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A couple years ago, when Gloria Jefferson of McKeesport wanted to go somewhere, she walked to a bus stop near her house.

Then, in 2011, her commute became much less convenient. During a round of cuts to fix a budget deficit, the Port Authority canceled her route, which ran through the middle of McKeesport. Now, Ms. Jefferson, who is 80, has to walk a mile downhill to another stop.

The walk is tough for her, especially when she’s carrying grocery bags. Sometimes, she pays for a ride there or avoids going places. She wonders whether she’ll still be able to make the walk when she gets older.

“Right now, I feel good. How long it’s going to last, I don’t know,” she said. “I keep on praying that one day they’ll turn it around and bring the bus back up the hill.”

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/news/transportation/2014/04/06/Cuts-in-suburban-bus-routes-changed-lives/stories/201404060065#ixzz2y9vjCoPz

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Gov. Corbett Announces Hundreds Of Additional Projects Due To Transportation Plan

Map of Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HARRISBURG, PA – Gov. Tom Corbett today outlined more than 250 projects that will start work this year due to the state’s new transportation plan.

At least $2.1 billion will be invested into the state’s highway and bridge network — about $600 million more than what would have been available without the transportation bill Corbett signed last fall. Overall, more than 900 projects will get underway this year.

“This plan is creating safer roads, bridges and transit systems while at the same time saving 12,000 jobs and creating 50,000 new ones over the next five years – 18,000 jobs are expected to be created this year alone.” Corbett said. “We are putting these transportation investments to work quickly as we strive to build a stronger Pennsylvania both now and in the future.”

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/1301350/Gov.-Corbett-announces-hundreds-of-additional-projects-due-to-transportation-plan

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Last Year’s Gridlock Looms Large Over Pirates’ Opener

PNC Park

PNC Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fans arriving for Opening Day on Monday will be getting an earlier start to tailgating around PNC Park, and so will police hoping to avoid last year’s gridlock — but not by much.

Police spokeswoman Sonya Toler said officers assigned to ease congestion and operate signals at the busiest intersections will start arriving at their posts at 10:30 a.m., at least 45 minutes earlier than last year.

But this year’s first pitch is about a half-hour earlier, about 1 p.m. Parking lots and garages open to tailgaters at 9 a.m., and the ballpark gates open at 11. Officials urge fans to have patience, use mass transit or park farther away from the ball field.

“If people can curtail their excitement with a little bit of patience, we’ll be able to help them get where they need to go,” Toler said.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/5830137-74/parking-pirates-fans#ixzz2xYokJ1U5
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Mass Transit Ridership In 2013 Highest In 57 Years

Ridership on buses, trains and subways in 2013 was the highest in 57 years, the American Public Transportation Association said Monday.

The growth in transit ridership continued a 20-year trend attributed to higher gasoline prices, a shift by young adults away from automobiles, increased use of mobile technology, and the increasing allure of urban areas.

“There is a fundamental shift going on in the way we move about our communities,” said APTA president Michael Melaniphy.

In 2013, riders made 10.7 billion trips on U.S. public transit systems, up 1.1 percent from 2012. That was the most since 1956.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/20140311_Mass_transit_ridership_in_2013_highest_in_57_years.html#4DxdR5HbEf6VkPFv.99

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Double-Decker Train Cars For SEPTA?

SEPTA logo with text

SEPTA logo with text (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Things are looking up for regional rail.

In an attempt to increase passenger capacity, SEPTA is in the early stages of considering bi-level coaches. With an upstairs and a downstairs, these coaches could transport anywhere from 120 to 170 passengers. Most important to SEPTA, they would provide an efficient remedy to booming regional rail ridership. Silverliner Vs can seat 109 passengers.

Last year alone, SEPTA passengers took 36 million regional rail trips – a record high on the system that has seen 50 percent regional rail ridership growth in the last 15 years. Now, aided by Act 89 funding, SEPTA is looking to increase its capacity and better serve those customers. One way the authority plans to do so is to build up.

“The real elegant solution to dealing with capacity issues, the most efficient one is to utilize the infrastructure you have but go up in the air with the cars so you can increase seating,” said Jeff Knueppel, deputy general manager.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/Double-decker_train_cars_for_SEPTA_.html#KFDcsf7hhy75jl8B.99

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Barletta Eyes Train Between Scranton, Hazleton

English: Official portrait of Congressman Lou ...

English: Official portrait of Congressman Lou Barletta. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Pardon me, Lou. Is that the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton choo-choo?

U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Hazleton, fresh off his announcement that he will seek a third term in Congress, Friday told The Times Leader Opinion Board he feels establishing passenger-rail service connecting the region’s three largest cities is a key to economic recovery and growth.

“The interstate roads are always crowded and often under repair,” said Barletta, 57. “Rail service — both freight and passenger — contributes to economic growth. Transportation in general, from waterways to highways to railways, are vital to the country and our region.”

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/news/1148657/Barletta-eyes-train-between-Scranton-Hazleton

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