PennDOT’s regional transit would save millions, cost jobs

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HARRISBURG -- The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is finalizing a plan which would regionalize public transportation, saving taxpayers millions of dollars while cutting multiple jobs.
PennDOT regional transit
PennDOT's South Central regionalization plan would unify seven local county public transit authorities, consolidating them into one administration. Public transit systems in Dauphin, Cumberland, York, Adams, Lebanon, Franklin, and Perry counties would be affected.

"Anything that creates change brings concern," PennDOT's Deputy Secretary of Multimodal Transportation Toby Fauver said. "If you can deliver the same service or better while improving those services through consolidation and reduce costs at the same time, that's a good use of tax money."

Money is at the base of the proposed changed. PennDOT's study, which has been unveiled to Cumberland and Dauphin County commissioners, proposes an annual savings of $2.4 million, which would be spread throughout the seven counties. Fauver estimates taxpayers would save $1.5 million to $2.5 million over the course of ten years, depending on the county.

"That money could be used to put more drivers and buses out for better service, or to better regionally connect service," he added.

The seven counties currently employ 125.6 full-time equivalent workers, according to PennDOT's study. Consolidation would cut the number of jobs down to 96. Most job losses would come in the form of executives and operations administrators.

"The number one concern are the riders, and saving taxpayer dollars," Dauphin County Commissioner Jeff Haste said.

Capital Area Transit, the central transportation system for the Harrisburg area, has already seen numerous staffers look for jobs amidst its uncertain future.

"It's very unsettling for the staff," Bill Jones, CAT general manager said.

CAT, along with other transportation authorities, would not cease operations, but instead be run by a regional administrative board.

"Hopefully we can be part of the solution with the best design moving forward," Jones added.

PennDOT still needs to unveil its plans to five of the seven counties. Lancaster and Berks were part of the original study, but they recently formed their own two-county transportation system. If PennDOT's plans remain on schedule, regional transit could begin summer 2016.