Halfmoon Township holds on to CATA service

mcarroll@centredaily.comFebruary 27, 2014 

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Halfmoon Township supervisors on Thursday agreed to continue funding CATA bus service to the township.

NABIL K. MARK — CDT file photo

— The handful of commuters here who rely on Centre Area Transportation Authority buses for rides into the State College area can breathe a sigh of relief for another year.

Township supervisors voted Thursday to continue funding its share of CATA, ensuring buses will still travel to Halfmoon Township, even though a small number of its residents apparently use the service.

One supervisor balked at paying around $8,000 this year to continue bus service for the community, citing lack of use. The supervisors last year asked CATA officials to increase marketing here to try and find new customers, but those efforts had little effect.

But more on the board said they were willing to give the service some additional time.

“I’m very reluctant to end this,” Supervisor Andrew Merritt said. “We are all just one broken down car away from needing a ride to State College one day. I think it’s too important.”

CATA officials who were present said about nine people a day board buses leaving from Halfmoon Township, and that the number has stayed steady despite efforts to get more riders.

Louwana Oliva, CATA’s assistant general manager, said low population density and a long ride to other Centre Region destinations are among the hurdles to growth in the township.

The G Route is the only scheduled bus that travels to Halfmoon Township, running through Stormstown after making stops in Vista Woods and Graysdale. There are two buses in the morning, one in the afternoon and two in the evening.

The supervisors voted 4-1 Thursday to continue funding the service.

Todd Kirsten, the lone supervisor to vote against, said he would support the service in Halfmoon Township if residents would take advantage in greater numbers.

“I think CATA is a wonderful organization as far as public transportation,” he said. “I just don’t think it’s right for our rural community.”

CATA officials said they could look into scaling back the number of trips per day to reduce costs, but said such a move might result in fewer riders because of fewer times when customers could catch a bus.

Supervisor Barbara Spencer said she would support the opposite, an effort to increase the number of trips to Halfmoon Township.

“I see increasing trips to increase ridership,” she said. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to take the bus, but I didn’t want to get stranded.”

Merritt, who made the motion Thursday to continue funding CATA, said the service helps hold the community together, and keeps it involved with its neighbors.

“I think it connects us to the Centre Region,” he said.

Matt Carroll can be reached at 231-4631. Follow him on Twitter @Carrollreporter.

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