Capital Area Transit to consider several companies in management takeover

Harrisburg, Pa. -- The question of who should manage Capital Area Transit (CAT) was put to a vote Thursday, but those looking for a change didn't get the results they had hoped for.

Wednesday, the state auditor stated he agreed with a study which recommended CAT let RabbitTransit takeover.

There has been talk for awhile about merging CAT with RabbitTransit operations, but the issue for right now is finding management to run the company.

With hopes of RabbitTransit being given a trial-run at management, a Capital Area Transit board meeting took a different route than expected for Cumberland County commissioner Jim Hertzler.

"I think it was a self preservation, self interest detour away from where they should have gone today. We've been talking for five years about transit agency administrative consolidation," Hertzler said.

A recent study recommended CAT let RabbitTransit take over management duties, but CAT board members decided to make an offer to several other transportation companies to give someone else a chance.

CATB interim General manager Tom Reynolds said "it's a benefit to find out what many other people can offer. Just having one person coming in and saying we can do this, we can have many people doing that. I think that's what the majority of the board voted on."

That's not what Cumberland County officials wanted to hear.

"All the while that we keep delaying, delaying and delaying. We're essentially not achieving the savings which are now projected at $5.2 million for the taxpayers of the city of Harrisburg, the taxpayers of Dauphin County, and the taxpayers of Cumberland County," Hertzler said.

This isn't just a matter of CAT versus RabbitTransit, but a difference of opinion between Dauphin County and Cumberland County officials.

Dauphin County commissioners chief clerk Chad Saylor said "with the case of the Cumberland County commissioners, you can never move fast enough for them. The rest of us want a more deliberate approach. Look at all the options that are out there before making a decision."

It's not a route that everyone agrees upon for a solution.

"In the meantime, we've got to keep the buses running here. As you saw in today's agenda, there's a lot of stuff. We don't want to keep services from veterans waiting. We don't want to keep the services to the warehouses looking for employees in urban areas. We don't want to keep that waiting. We want to keep moving forward," Saylor said.

"My patience is wearing very thin. This should have been a slam dunk," Hertzler said.

Board members voted Thursday to give the current Texas-based management firm three, one-month contract extensions, to allow some time to decide who should steer the company next.

Other transportation companies being considered besides the York County-based RabbitTransit to manage CAT, include the Lancaster County-based Red Rose, Lebanon County-based Lebanon Transit, and Philadelphia-based SEPTA.