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The creation of a new government agency to oversee the merger of Capital Area Transit and Rabbittransit into a transit system is the next step in completing regionalization.
By regionalizing, the transit system could reduce costs and offer routes that were not previously offered. Crossing county borders and providing more transportation will improve economic development, employment opportunities and transportation for veterans, said Executive Director Richard Farr.
The move driving regionalization is to have local leaders sign the creation of the Susquehanna Regional Transportation Authority, Farr said at the Dauphin County’s meeting of commissioners on Wednesday morning.
“A regionalized transit system has many advantages – enhanced mobility is exactly what we are looking for,” he said. “Through this joint venture, we believe that we can improve transport in the region and really promote economic development and access to jobs [and] Health care options. These are the things we really want to work on. “
The regionalization effort has been going on for nearly a decade, Farr said. Dauphin County commissioners were the first local leaders to hear an update.
All funding partners – Adams, Cumberland, Franklin, and York, and the City of Harrisburg – will hear a presentation ahead of today.
“We will get them to make a similar decision that will allow us to form the new city council and move forward,” said Farr.
Dauphin County has the second highest local gaming contribution after York. And it would have two committee members in the newly formed agency, according to the presentation. The breakdown of the financial contributions 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 cut costs while expanding transportation options, Farr said. CAT has “eliminated an unfunded deficit”.
With a director, joint purchase of fuel, and a larger transportation system, the organization can apply for larger federal discretionary grants.
There are no noticeable changes to what is currently being offered to drivers, Farr said. However, he hopes to announce soon that a CAT Pass or Rabbit Transit Pass will “work universally across the region”. That’s the kind of benefit that can be offered right away, he said.
- Also read: CAT, Rabbittransit offer free transportation to COVID-19 vaccination appointments
“We want to bring companies here, but we also want to make sure that people have the opportunity to come to work,” he said.
More complex changes are in the works, but will most likely not appear for another five years. Stakeholders who support regionalization said it will make positive changes in the quality of life for people who need and seek additional transportation.
Transportation has always been one of the top four themes at the Center for Independent Living in central Pennsylvania, said CEO Jenetta Green.
“Locally, people with disabilities have seen improvements in transportation,” she said. “But there is always room for improvement. With this recent CAT and rabbit merger, this will make it easier to cross the county boundaries, which has always been a problem for people with disabilities. “
HACC President John “Ski” Sygielski said that his students consistently rate transportation as a major concern.
“The students are no longer on campus,” he said. “We have probably more students from York and Gettysburg to Harrisburg than ever before. Because last year we brought together many programs in Harrisburg. “
Dauphin County’s officials said they support the venture and would like to expand it in the future.
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