PennDOT Study: Transit consolidation could save millions

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Harrisburg, PA – A recently completed Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) study has found that Adams, York, Cumberland, Perry, Franklin, Dauphin and Lebanon counties could save nearly $2.3 million annually by consolidating fixed route and shared ride transit services under a single municipal authority.

The study outlines that cost savings could be achieved by moving all administrative functions from six existing transit agencies to the new regional authority. The authority may then contract with existing transit authorities to provide service.

“PennDOT is actively supporting local governments and transit providers across the state in finding ways to operate as efficiently as possible while preserving services for those who need them,” PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards said. “People commute and travel differently than in the past, and modernizing transit services to match those demands with an eye on potential cost savings is a great opportunity for this region.”

Building on years of collaboration and previous studies among those seven counties and Berks and Lancaster counties, the findings are based on provisions in Act 89, the state’s transportation funding plan. Under the law, when a consolidation occurs, counties’ local transit match can be offset by any cost savings for five years. Any additional cost savings could be reinvested into increased transit services or could delay fare increases.

In the 2015-16 state fiscal year, the local matching funds for the CAT, Lebanon Transit and York Area Transportation Authority services, which includes the applicable counties and the City of Harrisburg, total nearly $1.5 million.

Berks and Lancaster counties are already saving $2.8 million and $1.7 million respectively over the next five years following their consolidation into the South Central Transit Authority in 2014. For Franklin and Perry counties that provide shared ride services, the efficiencies and cost savings would lessen the financial risk for the county.

Also due to Act 89, consolidation benefits related to reduced local match extend well beyond the initial five-year waiver period. For most local funding partners, the required local match must increase by 5 percent each fiscal year. For those that consolidate and achieve savings, after the five-year waiver period local match reverts to the pre-consolidation level, reducing local funding for every subsequent fiscal year.

To review the South Central Pennsylvania Transit study’s full background, research and results, visit in the “Transit” section of “Doing Business.”

The decision of whether or how to consolidate is made by local transit authorities and county officials. The structure and operations of any resulting authority, and therefore any actual cost savings, would be determined by the authority’s governing body. PennDOT will continue to partner with the county and transit officials involved to facilitate any future steps.

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