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Partnership could provide model for connecting people with jobs through transit


Photo: Rachel McDevitt/WITF

(Harrisburg) — A new public-private partnership in Harrisburg could provide the model for creating transit routes to connect people in the city to jobs in the region. 

More than 500 people who live in Harrisburg work for Chewy, an online pet supply retailer with a warehouse in Mechanicsburg, Cumberland County.

The company has had to turn some applicants down in the past, simply because the person didn’t have a reliable way to get to work.

Now, Capital Area Transit (CAT) has created a new route to get people from the city to the facility.

Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse said Chewy is guaranteeing a certain level of ridership from its employees.

“Not because that’s going to pay for or subsidize the entire route, but because that type of guarantee makes it possible to do something experimental like this,” Papenfuse said. “So they’ve done that in this instance, and I think if other businesses are willing to do that, then CAT is willing to expand and put these types of routes in place.”

Chewy is providing fare discounts for its employees and has committed to some advertising on CAT. 

But Papenfuse said the move will benefit more than just the company’s employees.

“Really CAT is every taxpayers’ public transportation system. We pay for it. It should be responsive to the needs of the community, and I think that’s what’s happening here,” he said.

South Central Transit Authority in Berks and Lancaster counties is currently examining possible routes to job centers as a way to boost ridership.

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