The last comprehensive examination of public transportation occurred in 1985. At that time, the “Metro” system of service was introduced which responded then to the impact of the loss of major employment centers in the urbanized area and the shift to destinations in the more rural portions of the Valley. Since then, LANTA has made many modifications to the basic system of service based on an ongoing service review process, and experienced significant gains in ridership. Since 1997, LANTA ridership of the public transportation system has grown 67%.
But the Lehigh Valley is continuing to grow and change in terms of both population and jobs. The Authority has determined that it needs to prepare a long range vision for public transportation and a service development program and policies that will guide LANTA efforts in the next 5 to 10 years.
The Authority sought proposals from qualified individuals/firms to develop a regional public transportation development plan for the Valley in the fall of last year. Three firms responded and after an extensive review and interview process, Abrams & Cherwony Inc., a Philadelphia based firm was selected.
The process which started in March, is expected to take a year and will involve an extensive review of the existing transit system, a determination on how best to meet the community’s changing needs for service, and deliver a set of recommendations in order to achieve the most effective and productive transit system possible.
The public input portion of this effort is extremely important. And LANTA would like all those who have an interest in public transportation, to participate in the planning process.
Information will be forthcoming in the next few months as to what format through which this input will be gathered. Most likely, this will involve many meetings with a wide range of participants to gather ideas and input.
LANTA and its consultant are relying heavily on data provided by the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission through its elaborate GIS mapping system as well as its computerized transportation model for evaluating route structure and predicting ridership.
The goal is to invest in a public transportation network that meet demands now and well into the future in the Lehigh Valley.
It is expected that recommendations for change will be before the Authority in March/April of 2009.