It takes 77-year-old Gettysburg resident Mike Mahalage less than an hour on the bus to get from his downtown home to the Giant supermarket on Natural Springs Road and back.
But if Freedom Transit stops serving the public, he would have to rely on the county's paratransit system to get to the store or the doctor's office.
"I would have to call a day ahead and hope I could get it," he said, riding the bus on the way to the store one day last week. "It's not a day-to-day service. It gets you there but it could take hours to get home."
In a few hours on Freedom Transit's Gettysburg-area bus lines, you'll encounter all kinds, from seniors and students to moms like Alicia Romero, who runs errands with the help of her 2-year-old, Amori.
If bus service stops, she says, she will have to find another way to get Amori to day care.
Freedom Transit, the end result of merged transportation authorities and generous funding efforts, could be discontinued by year's end.
The Gettysburg-area transportation company, unable to pay for itself, needs local funds in order to access almost $1 million in state and federal grants. If the grants go unused, public officials could be responsible for repaying the federal government for transportation money already borrowed and not fully used.
The fixed-route shuttle service from Gettysburg to various commercial centers has become something on which tourists and residents rely, but some are quick to point out the service's less than successful business model.
Even though transit officials say ridership on the fledgling bus service has grown since the program's 2009 inception, local politicians are reluctant to fund a service they believe the majority of their constituents do not use.
A last-minute save would require either a miraculous contribution from a local business or proposed governmental budgets to be torn apart and redrafted.
And as the sun sets on 2013, so do the hopes of being able to ride a bus from downtown Gettysburg to Walmart in 2014.
Dollars and sense
The York Adams Transportation Authority board, which oversees Rabbittransit, voted unanimously Dec. 5 to discontinue Freedom Transit's fixed-route bus service, effective Dec. 30, unless $65,264 is raised by then.
If it is not and the Carlisle Street bus terminal's use falls by the wayside, the York Adams Transportation Authority will have to repay the Federal Transit Administration, according to an administration spokesperson.
Since the FTA footed 80 percent of the cost to build the terminal, the county would have to appraise the facility, with the authority repaying 80 percent of the 0.38-acre property's value to the federal government.
But since the authority lacks the resources to repay the federal government, one or more governmental agencies would have to shoulder the debt, said Rich Farr, executive director of Rabbittransit. He said Adams County could be solely responsible since the previous board of commissioners formed the county's portion of the transit authority.
The Carlisle St. bus terminal is deeded to the Adams County Transit Authority, the area's transportation entity that joined with York County transportation representatives in 2011 to form the York Adams Transportation Authority. Last year, the property was valued at $613,000 by Adams County Tax Services.
Farr said there are some possibilities for the transit center's use beyond Freedom Transit, including the county's paratransit service.
He also indicated the potential for the Adams County Transit Authority to use the bus stop for additional office space. The authority's four-person staff works out of 257 N. 4th St. in Gettysburg. But Farr said without the grant funding, the transit company would not have the resources to support two facilities.
So far, Adams County, Cumberland Township and Gettysburg Borough officials have collectively earmarked $18,000 in their tentative 2014 budgets to support Freedom Transit. The county's $12,000 allocation will sustain the transit company's express shuttle between Gettysburg and Harrisburg through June 30.