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!

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