Public Transit Merger Unveiled at Board of Dauphin County Commissioners’ Meeting

SRTA Structure

Dauphin County Commissioners heard details this week of a public transportation regionalization plan involving merger of Capital Area Transit (CAT) and rabbittransit.

The merger would improve connectivity and simplify fare payment for riders, while preserving jobs and routes for drivers, according to Richard Farr, executive director of both authorities.

The merger would create one entity – Susquehanna Regional Transportation Authority – thus leveraging buying power and funding options.

Service to job locations, schools and health care facilities would be improved, according to Farr.

“This really is for the best for the region,” Farr said at the Feb. 17 presentation at the Board of Commissioners’ workshop meeting.

The board is expected to vote on a resolution at a Feb. 24 meeting.

Center for Independent Living of Central Pa., Harrisburg Area Community College, and Hershey Entertainment and Resorts all spoke of how public transportation is essential in their respective areas.

Transportation issues “keep students away from us,” HACC President Dr. John Sygielski told the board.

Janetta Green, CEO for CILCP, said transportation is a “top four issue” for the communities her agency serves.

Kathleen McGraw, of Hershey E&R, said public transportation is used by about 400 employees a year, is a recruiting tool, and makes Hershey attractions more accessible to tourists.

Commissioner Chair Jeff Haste said he supports the merger if it is a step toward even larger-scale regionalization that would include Lancaster and Berks counties. Commissioner Haste said he favors a “triangle” of service in the region that would provide more funding streams.

Commissioner Mike Pries credited Farr for his management of CAT, which has been under financial strain.

“Ten years ago,” Commissioner Pries said, “I don’t think anybody would have envisioned where we are today.”

Commissioner George Hartwick III said he counted as many as “50 benefits” of regionalization.

Farr said all involved parties are expected to pass resolutions by early March, to be followed by SRTA’s filing with the state.

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