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.
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.
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.
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?”