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Centre County commissioners unsure of regionalized transit system

Centre County Commissioners declined Tuesday to support a PennDOT study examining regionalized transportation.
Centre County Commissioners declined Tuesday to support a PennDOT study examining regionalized transportation. Centre Daily Times, file

County commissioners declined to support a state Department of Transportation study Tuesday examining the option of creating a multicounty regional transit system.

Office of Adult Services Director Natalie Corman said the county has been working with the Centre Area Transportation Authority and the Centre Region Council of Governments since the beginning of the year reviewing the study, which PennDOT released to the proposed counties, to find what opportunities it would provide to Centre County.

The north-central Pennsylvania transit regionalization study works with the transit authorities and county officials across Centre, Lycoming, Union, Snyder, Montour, Columbia, Clinton and Northumberland counties, PennDOT spokeswoman Erin Waters-Trasatt said, reviewing opportunities for collaboration or consolidation of transit services across the state.

“Under Act 89, the state’s transportation funding law, when a consolidation occurs, counties’ local transit match can be offset by any cost savings for five years,” she said. “Any additional cost savings could be reinvested into increased transit services or could delay fare increases.”

CATA already responded with a letter questioning some of the aspects of the study, General Manager Louwana Oliva said.

The county agreed with CATA, Corman said, saying the county transportation office shares a strong partnership with CATA. The local opportunities between the two entities would be lost in a regionalized partnership and they will be sharing a similar letter with PennDOT.

We feel we want to move forward with what we’ve been working on in this county without combining the efforts of the other counties together.

Adult Services Director Natalie Corman

“We feel we want to move forward with what we’ve been working on in this county without combining the efforts of the other counties together,” she said.

County transportation Director David Lomison shared Corman’s concerns.

“The service we provide is a very good service,” he said. “It’s unique to many counties around the state in how we provide it.

“By entering into this regionalization program, it would take away the local control we have right here.”

The county transportation serves up to 600 trips a day, Lomison said, including home-delivered meals and services to the outlying areas. The office also works with the surrounding counties of Clearfield, Clinton, Lycoming and Blair seeking to enhance each other’s services.

Chairman Michael Pipe highlighted some of the concerns the county has with the study to be included in the correspondence to PennDOT, including what measures will ensure equity in the transit governing structure, a fair analysis of trip distances and how employees would be structured.

Pipe said the county would be waiting “with open ears” for a response to its concerns.

“Hopefully this is enough to send the message that there needs to be a lot more work and thought put into this,” he said.

Jeremy Hartley: 814-231-4616, @JJHartleyNews

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