Creating a new governing authority to oversee the merger of Capital Area Transit and rabbittransit into one transit system is the next step to finalizing regionalization.
Regionalization would allow for the transit system to cut down on expenses and offer routes that weren’t offered before. Crossing county lines and providing increased transportation will improve economic development, employment opportunities, and transportation for veterans, Executive Director Richard Farr said.
The step that moves regionalization forward is local leaders signing off on the creation of the Susquehanna Regional Transportation Authority, Farr said at the Dauphin County commissioners meeting Wednesday morning.
“There are a lot of benefits to a regionalized transit system — expanded mobility is really what we are looking for,” he said. “We believe through this joint venture that we’ll be able to enhance transportation in the region, really promoting economic development and access to job (and) health care opportunities. They’re the things that we’re really trying to work on.”
Regionalization efforts have been ongoing for almost a decade, Farr said. Dauphin County’s commissioners were the first local leaders to hear an update.
All funding partners — Adams, Cumberland, Franklin and York counties, and the city of Harrisburg — will hear a presentation to today’s.
“We’ll get them to pass a similar resolution that allows us to form the new municipal authority and move forward,” Farr said.
Dauphin County has the second-highest local match contribution following York. And, it would have two committee members on the newly formed authority, according to the presentation. The breakdown of financial contribution and members is as follows:
- York: $562,527, 3 members
- Dauphin: $383,938, 2 members
- Cumberland: $329,786, 2 members
- Harrisburg: $323,665, 2 members
- Adams: $72,880, 1 member
- Franklin: $0, 1 ex officio member
The goal of regionalization is to reduce expenses, while also expanding transportation opportunities, Farr said. CAT has been “whittling away at an unfunded deficit.”
Having one director, buying fuel jointly, and having a larger transportation system allows the organization to apply for larger federal discretionary grant funds.
There are no noticeable changes to what’s being offered to riders currently, Farr said. Except, he hopes to announce soon that a CAT pass or rabbittransit pass “works universally throughout the entire region.” That’s the kind of benefit that can be offered immediately, he said.
- Also Read: CAT, rabbittransit offer free transportation to COVID-19 vaccination appointments
“We want to bring businesses here, but we also want to make sure that people have the opportunity to get to work,” he said.
Other more elaborate changes are in the works but most likely won’t show up for another five years. Stakeholders who support regionalization said it is bringing about positive quality of life changes for people needing and seeking additional transportation opportunities.
Transportation has always been one of the Center for Independent Living of Central Pennsylvania’s top four issues, said CEO Jenetta Green.
“Locally, people with disabilities have seen an improvement in transportation,” she said. “But, there’s always room for improvement. So, with this recent merger of CAT and rabbit, this will alleviate the crossing of the county lines, which has always been a problem for people with disabilities.”
HACC President John “Ski” Sygielski said its students consistently rank transportation as a top concern, as well.
“The students are no longer campus-based,” he said. “We have probably more students coming from York and Gettysburg to Harrisburg than we ever have before. Because last year, we combined a lot of programs into Harrisburg.”
The Dauphin County commissioners said they support the endeavor and would like to see it expanded further in the future.
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