Users of the Lower Anthracite Transportation System (LATS) who testified at one of three hearings Monday seem happy with the service and only suggested minor changes.
Andrew Batson, a project manager with consultant Michael Baker Corp., Harrisburg, said feedback will be reviewed as part of the Transportation Development Plan (TDP) that will be ready for public review by February.
LATS Executive Director Megan Janolek, who was joined by Michael Baker, planner Alexis M. Williams and planning associate Alyssa Sabetto, said they are trying to make the LATS experience "better."
Managed by Mount Carmel Borough and designed to provide affordable public transportation in eastern Northumberland County, LATS should make more trips to the Susquehanna Valley Mall near Selinsgrove, said the eight users at an afternoon hearing at Mount Carmel Senior Action Center. The consultants and Janolek also met with riders at the Shamokin Senior Action Center and Mount Carmel Borough Council chambers.
Riders also want to go to Harrisburg, Lewisburg, Muncy, Sunbury, Danville and Pottsville.
Batson said some of those destinations may be doable, but Janolek said it's likely Muncy and Harrisburg are too far away.
Also suggested was adding a direct line between Shamokin and Mount Carmel, installing signs at bus stops and increasing night and Saturday hours.
They suggested LATS advertise more to make sure everyone knows it's available.
Overall, the eight individuals speaking at the action center agreed the buses are clean and the drivers are nice.
They like the in-season Knoebels Amusement Resort route and the new connection to the Schuylkill Transit System in Ashland.
The TDP report needs to be completed before adding a night run, extended hours and new buses.
Citing the recent approval of a law providing $2.3 billion in transportation funding, Batson said there's no "clear picture" of what it means for transportation providers.
"The opportunity for increasing funding will depend on that funding plan, but it won't decrease," he said.
PennDOT provided $495,000 in grant money this year to LATS. Last year, it was $517,000. If the TDP recommends expansion of LATS service, Janolek can request more funding.
Additionally, LATS has $327,000 in state money to use for new buses, she said.
Funding for LATS comes mostly from federal and state grants through PennDOT and the Lottery Senior Citizen Free Transit Fund.
For a schedule, call 570-339-3956 or look for LATS on Facebook.
Copyright 2013 - The News-Item, Shamokin, Pa.