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Cumberland County commissioners respond to threats of service cut-off by Capital Area Transit

CARLISLE, Pa. - Cumberland County's board of commissioners said Friday it will not allow Capital Area Transit to make good on a threat to cut off transit service to the county in July.

The board threatened legal action against CAT and promised alternative transportation for county residents who utilize CAT services into and out of the Harrisburg area.

"This is ridiculous," said Commissioner Jim Hertzler. "If we could get out, we'd get out tomorrow."

The threats were reportedly made by Anthony Johnson, CAT's interim manager, at a board meeting Thursday, saying bus service to the West Shore and beyond could cease on July 1, which could also trigger about two dozen layoffs.

CAT is seeking around $300,000 in funding from Cumberland County, but county officials, who support a plan recommended by PennDOT to regionalize bus service, want to see steps taken toward that end. The plan essentially calls for the combination of bus services in central Pennsylvania, including CAT, rabbittransit and Red Rose Transit.

"Our belief, very strongly, is that [customers] should not be used as pawns in a political battle and they should not be used as weapons to hold our county government hostage," Commissioner Gary Eichelberger said.

A service stoppage would jeopardize thousands of bus riders who cross the Susquehanna on CAT daily, like George Schroy, who rides the bus from Mechanicsburg into Harrisburg.

"It's going to be a big inconvenience," he said. "I have no car and I have no way to get to my doctors' appointments."

Some riders complain about reduced CAT service, and wonder whether joining forces with other local transit services would be the best way forward.

"They cut our services off earlier, they change the schedules so either where you're waiting for your ride a little bit longer, or you've got to hurry up and catch the next bus because that's the last bus for the evening," Chante Johnson, who takes the bus to Carlisle, said. "It's hectic."