By Ashley Wislock
The Daily Item
SUNBURY — Two area counties are participating in a study conducted by PennDOT to look at options involving public transportation.
Northumberland and Montour counties will be part of the study, which will look at consolidation and cooperation opportunities, said Erin Waters-Trasatt, PennDOT deputy press secretary.
“There is increasing pressure on public transportation operating budgets and on funding sources that support transit operations,” she said.
The study is voluntary and is expected to take about a year, said Mark Murawski, chairman of the Northcentral Pennsylvania Public Transportation Taskforce, which is assisting with the study in this area.
Participating counties will not have to pay to participate in the study, Murawski said.
“(The counties) are not required to implement the study recommendations if they find anything that can be done,” he said. “That’s up to the counties.”
However, Murawski said it’s important to take a look at how public transportation operates and how money can be saved.
“It’s in everybody’s best interest to take an honest look at how we’re doing things,” he said. “This is taxpayer money and we have a duty to spend it responsibly.”
Union and Snyder counties have not made a decision about participating in the study, said Peggy Chamberlain Roup, a Snyder County commissioner and chairwoman of the Community Action Agency Joinder board, which governs the he Union-Snyder Transportation Authority.
“It has generated some conversation,” she said. “The question is: is this just another study?”
USTA already works with neighboring counties to meet residents’ transportation needs and studies its efficiency frequently, she said. USTA then supplies that data to PennDOT, which could be used in any efficiency study the organization wants to conduct, she said.
“We’re always looking to find a balance for cost-effectiveness,” she said.