PA: BARTA, Red Rose Transit Working on Rules to Govern Merged Agency

Aug. 26--The task force that's meeting to plan out a merger between BARTA and its Lancaster County counterpart is close to finishing a draft of the bylaws that would govern the new agency, BARTA's board learned Monday.

Officials with BARTA and Red Rose Transit Authority have been meeting to hammer out the details since both agencies' boards voted last month to move forward with the merger plans.

Berks County Commissioner Kevin S. Barnhardt, who chairs the BARTA board, said the group has a rough sketch of what the combined authority would look like.

"We made a lot of headway," he said.

A common management team and board would oversee separate bus networks based in Reading and Lancaster. Berks and Lancaster counties would each pick five representatives to sit on the 10-person governing board.

Board meetings would alternate between Reading and Lancaster, Barnhardt said, and there would be requirements for members to attend most meetings.

Once finalized, the bylaws will need approval from both sets of agency boards and county commissioners. PennDOT and the federal government must also approve the merger plan before the agencies can combine.

The goal has been to have the new agency up and running Jan. 1. The agencies expect that by combining management, they can operate more efficiently and save money while keeping service the same.

The bus systems have been sharing an executive director, David W. Kilmer, since October. The arrangement came as BARTA weighed its leadership options following the death of longtime director Dennis D. Louwerse a month earlier.

BARTA's board also learned Monday that the agency plans to look at what changes can be made to routes that are struggling to attract enough riders to offset costs.

The entire network saw about 3.2 million passengers for the 2013-2014 fiscal year, the most in five years, Kilmer said.

But five routes are struggling: Kenhorst, Lincoln Park, East Penn Manufacturing, Morgantown and the "Crosstown" route, which connects the Hampden Heights area of Reading to the Berkshire Mall and VF Outlets in Wyomissing.

The plan, Kilmer said, is to see what changes can be made to either draw more passengers or reduce costs. That doesn't necessarily mean routes would be eliminated but schedules could shift and the number of runs could be reduced.

Any changes would have to go through a public hearing process, he said.

Contact Liam Migdail-Smith: 610-371-5022 or lsmith@readingeagle.com.

Copyright 2014 - Reading Eagle, Pa.

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