Thursday, June 25, 2009

Moving LANTA Forward Public Meetings

On Monday, June 22, Tuesday, June 23, and Wednesday, June 24, the Authority staff and its consultants, the Abrams-Cherwony Group of Gannett-Fleming, invited the public to listen to and view a presentation on the status of the plan for improving public transportation in the Lehigh Valley.

The planning began last year with a series of intensive public meetings and surveys and it is only fitting, that as the process nears the end, that the public have a change to look at the vision for transit in the Valley that they helped to shape. The presentation, which can be viewed by clicking here, covered all aspects of the plan but focused on the recommendations for phasing in improvements to the transit system.

As one online newspaper article noted, LANTA "sees its future as faster, more frequent and simple" to understand.

While attendance at the 6 public meetings was low – there were two meetings each held in center city locations in Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton – those who attended were motivated and vocal. Many asked questions. Many also had suggestions – some specific about routes and schedules and others more general about frequencies, service area coverage and the modes of public transit they would like to see created.

Here is a sample of the questions and comments we recorded during the meetings:

I am quite pleased with the bus system. The future plans should improve services to inter-city bus terminals such as Bieber and Trans-Bridge.

Will the added service improve access? Will schedules be easier to read? Seems that the main or trunk routes might be easy to understand, but the outer loops will still be complex.

How do we sell or market transit to those who don’t want to use it?

Questions were asked about transit for seniors and people with disabilities and specific suggestions were made about expanding service to areas where there are high concentrations of elderly folks.

How does the new Bethlehem Loop fit into this plan? It is a great idea. Local businesses should work with LANTA to make sure it is a success so that we can keep it.

There should be expanded service and more frequent service. Wondered if there is a financial plan that will make this plan happen or is it just a dream?

The exhaust from buses is adding to an already poor air quality in the Valley. The Valley is a non-attainment area and is one of the worst in terms of air quality in the US. All new buses should be clean energy; older buses should be retro-fit with filters and cleaning devices.

Where will the next transit center be located?

Satellite hubs are a good idea but they should be located at current destinations such as boroughs or major commercial or employment centers where there is already demand.

Some people in the community are trying to keep young professionals in the community; can the bus service be adjusted to meet their needs for evening and weekend entertainment?

The community should get together – Industrial Park employers, merchants, everyone – and make up their minds to promote public transit use.

We need more park and ride lots to make it convenient for people to ride transit. Cooperate with PennDOT and build more parking lots.

There should be rail service to NYC and good connections to it by transit in the Valley.

These and other thoughtful and constructive questions and comments will be included in the discussions with the LANTA Board of Directors as they move forward to adopt the recommendations coming out of the study.

The future of transit looks very bright indeed. Now, the hard work begins to make this vision a reality!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

LANTA Announces Public Meetings to review study findings

Come One…Come All

Moving LANTA Forward…Public Meeting Schedule

“Moving LANTA Forward” is the prime topic of discussion; reviewing LANTA’s transportation development plan along with the Land Use Planning Tool element is the purpose.

The process began with a series of intensive public meetings and surveys last year and has developed into a proposal for expanded transit services over three long-term phases. The phases are focused on simplifying the LANTA system, expanding LANTA service, and eventually implementing alternatives to basic, fixed-route service. At the meetings, presentations will be made reviewing the proposed plans which allow our community to grow and expand.

Each day the meetings be at 3:00 p.m. and then again at 7:00 p.m. We hope you will find the time to attend one of the six upcoming meetings conveniently located at:

• Monday, June 22, Lehigh County Government Center, 7th Street, Allentown

• Tuesday, June 23, Bethlehem City Hall Rotunda

• Wednesday, June 24, United Church of Christ, 27 N. 3rd St., Easton

The power point document being presented at the meetings can be found by clicking on this link.

Public Transportation is an important part of everyone’s life, whether or not you are current a rider. Keep in mind input and discussion coming from these meetings will aid LANTA’s overall plans for the future of the Valley.

Contact us:

LANTA Route and Schedule information – 610-776-RIDE

LANTA offices – 610-435-4517

Visit us online:

Advisory Committee reviews study recommendations

The “Moving LANTA Forward” Advisory Committee, 70 concerned citizens representing different walks of life throughout the Lehigh Valley, met Wednesday, May 6th.

This was a forum to discuss LANTA’s role in the Valley from a land use perspective, how the Authority compared with transit agencies similar in size and service area across the country and what the consultants believed the community could support in terms of growth in services.

Given, through the extensive public input process followed during the planning process, the community’s desire for ‘more public transportation’ in the Valley, one of the prime challenges is implementing significant growth with the moderate growth in financial support that is anticipated at all government levels. To make this equation even more challenging, since the study was started in March, 2008, a major recession has occurred in the US and it has become clear that the growth in funding anticipated from the State of Pennsylvania is not forthcoming.

LANTA’s consultant proposed marketing strategies and land use recommendations for the groups’ consideration along with the phased plan for growth over the next 12 years.
The marketing approach dealt with ‘branding’ and image issues and how to achieve rider growth and retention given limited resources and staff.

Aspects of the land use plan – concentrated growth in urban areas and transit friendly design - require cooperation on the local, state, and federal levels. Local communities – Counties, cites, townships and boroughs – if they desire increased transit services, may have to measure their investments both in terms of land use and financial support.

The service plan presented is a 3-phased plan for the period 2010 through 2022. It was stressed that connecting land use and transit oriented design is vital for success, particularly if the Lehigh Valley wishes to transition to higher‐ridership transit modes such as express bus and light rail. The plan proposes specific goals for land use and also recommends passenger amenities – shelters and well-designed bus stops - necessary to support an enhanced, innovative and dynamic transit system.

Fred Williams, LANTA Board Chairman stated, “This is an excellent blueprint for growth. I hope we can achieve it. Key to our success will be finding out if there is sufficient interest from the public and local government to commit to such an aggressive plan. This is what the public has asked for. Now the question is, is the public willing to pay for it?”

The 3-year proposed marketing plan focuses on the 3 R’s for transit: recruitment of riders, retention of riders, and reputation of the system. Also essential to the marketing strategy are the 4 P’s: product, pricing, place and promotion. The consultant also noted that the Authority has limited human resources dedicated to the marketing effort and should consider investment in this area.

The Committee left the forum with an understanding of the possibilities as well as the awareness of the challenges that any such plan for growth presents.

As one member of the group noted, “There are some very large numbers being presented here, in terms of local commitment. Does our community have the ‘will’ to produce the revenue needed to obtain the services they say they want?”