Red Rose and Berks Area transit systems merge

Written by The Associated Press | Dec 12, 2014 11:50 AM

Photo by Wikkmedia Commons/Niagara

(Brecknock Township) -- Two midstate transit systems are merging.

The Berks Area Regional Transit Authority and Lancaster County's Red Rose Transit Authority will form the South Central Transit Authority.

Kevin Barnhardt, chairman of the BARTA Board and a Berks County Commissioner, says he's encouraged by change.

“This effort is a prime example of the mutual cooperation that our residents should expect from their elected and appointed officials, to find real savings as budgets become tighter,” Barnhardt says.”This cooperative spirit is a result of PennDOT’s efforts to encourage regional consolidation and assist in the financing of such endeavors.”

The move is expected to save Berks and Lancaster counties $4.7 million over five years.

“This consolidation effort is bringing significant savings to local taxpayers and will mean service improvements for these transit riders,” says Toby Fauver, PennDOT deputy secretary for Multimodal Transportation. “I applaud Berks and Lancaster counties for their leadership and serving as an example for transit providers across the state.”

The cost savings would come through consolidating administrative functions for the two systems and retaining one executive director for the services.

Under incentives through the state’s transportation plan, a big chunk of the savings will be in local matching funds.

Over five years, Berks County will save $2,804,169, while Lancaster County will save $1,726,081.

Beyond that, the counties will evenly split the local match of $780,820, which is lower than the $996,546 total local match that would have been required without the consolidation.

The systems are considering adding Sunday service in Berks County and extending service to Route 41 in Lancaster County’s Gap area to reach the newly expanded Urban Outfitters and the Gap Area Shopping Center.

PennDOT calls the merger the largest transit consolidation in the state.

The authorities and county commissioners in each county approved the merger in November.

Drivers and mechanics will remain employees of the existing authorities.

BARTA and RRTA will contract with the new South Central Transit Authority for management and administrative services and a new board will be created including five members from each county.

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