Monday, November 22, 2010

Transit Friendly Wheelchairs

For several years now, all LANTA Metro buses have been fully ADA accessible. A ramp can be deployed at bus stops to allow passengers in wheelchairs to easily board buses. There are, as required by ADA, two wheelchair tie-down areas on every vehicle reserved for people who use mobility devices in order to travel independently. Here is some advice on obtaining a mobility device that is safe to use on public transportation vehicles.

Section 37.3 of the DOT’s regulations implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) (49 CFR Parts 27, 37, and 38) defines a "common wheelchair" as a mobility aid belonging to any class of three or four-wheeled devices, usable indoors, designed for and used by individuals with mobility impairments, whether operated manually or powered. A "common wheelchair" does not exceed 30 inches in width and 48 inches in length measured two inches above the ground, and does not weigh more than 600 pounds when occupied.

Transit wheelchairs that can be used most safely on a city transit bus, will have four identifiable and crash-tested securement points to which tie-down straps can be easily attached. If it is not possible to use a transit wheelchair, the next best choice is a wheelchair with an accessible metal frame to which tie-down straps can be attached at frame junctions.

Before you purchase a wheelchair, ask if the model you are looking at meets ANSI/RESA WC/19 Standards. If you already have a wheelchair, check with your dealer to see if the model you own meets these standards.

A properly positioned headrest on the wheelchair will help protect the head and neck. If it is necessary to use an added head and neck support during travel, soft neck collars are safer than stiff collars or head straps which could cause neck injury in a crash. The soft collar should not be attached to the seating system.

Transit vehicles use a four-point tie-down. It is important that your wheelchair be crash tested and meets ANSI/RESNA WC/19 Standards. This system is a universal tie-down that works with a wide range of wheelchairs. This type of system requires the driver to attach the straps for the person seated in the wheelchair.

To provide effective restraint for the person in the wheelchair, a belt restraint must be used. A lap and shoulder belt helps prevent the wheelchair user from being thrown from the vehicle or from hitting the interior of the vehicle during a crash or during emergency driving conditions.

If you do not have a transit wheelchair, it is best if you can attach the tie-downs to welded junctions of the frame or other structural areas where the frame is fastened together with hardened steel bolts. Bus operators are advised to avoid attaching tie-downs to adjustable or removable parts of the wheelchair – that may include armrests, leg-rests and wheels.

On non-transit wheelchairs, structural securement points as high as possible but below the seat surface will be used as a tie down. This is done to provide as much stability during travel as possible.

In addition to securing the wheelchair, your bus operator will also require that you use a crash-tested lap and shoulder belt. Some wheelchair hardware, such as an armrest, can interfere with a good lap belt fit. Bus operators will not place the lap belt over an armrest.

Everyone wants to be safe riding public transit. Some common sense will go a long way towards achieving that goal for everyone.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Keeping the Message Simple - Malcolm Gladwell, author of “OUTLIERS” (a good read!)

“There is an enormous amount of power in the concept of the public good,” said Malcolm Gladwell, best-selling author of The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers: The Story of Success. That was his message when he spoke at the APTA Annual Meeting in San Antonio, TX. And the most effective ways to harness that concept—in this case, convey to the public the importance of public transportation—are to keep the message simple, use appealing stories and appropriate images, and if possible, find a charismatic spokesperson.

He cited the example of seatbelts, noting that initially, U.S. drivers strongly resisted using them, considering them an “unwarranted government intrusion” into their lives. Once advocates shifted the message from attempting to influence adults to promoting the use of children’s car seats, the children then became advocates for seatbelts, and the percentage of adults using them rose from 15 percent to 65 percent. “Approaching the issue from a different way made all the difference in people’s willingness to respond,” he stressed.

Another way Gladwell proposed to frame the message is to emphasize social and economic equality. “Public transit is a vehicle of economic equality and opportunity—the same access to jobs, education, and cultural events to everybody, regardless of resources. A way we make our society a united and equal place …. isn’t only about taking people from point A to point B; it’s something far grander and more crucial and central to the American dream.”

Gladwell talked at length about how the 1955 bus boycott in Montgomery, AL, created an unusual partnership with workers and religious institutions—with the goal of civil rights equality. People needed to ride the bus to and from work, and “for the bus to be segregated was the ultimate inequality … The boycott was about the dignity of workers.” So churches became bus “stations,” and religious leaders organized transportation to ensure that the workers kept their jobs. “You can reframe what you do in such a way that you can bring in allies who may never have thought they were allies,” he said.

He also pointed to public transit as a “public good,” similar to parks, schools, and other benefits that improve the general quality of life, as opposed to “private goods” owned by individuals. “People are getting fed up with the current emphasis on private goods,” he said. “If you talk to people and listen, you find they’re talking about public goods.” Gladwell continued: “If you have $1 billion, you have all the private goods you can acquire. There’s nothing more that will make your life better that you can purchase for yourself. The only ways in which your life could improve—cleaner air, fewer potholes, less crime—are all public goods.” For that reason, he added, the wealthiest citizens should support paying more taxes to support the common good, much as they did in the 1950s as America rebuilt itself after World War II.

Public transit professionals “need to make a much stronger argument that public goods will be more beneficial than buying things as individuals,” he said. “What would really make your life better? I’d like better schools for my kids, a shorter commute time, I want my kids to be able to play outside without worrying—all parts of being a community.”

BY SUSAN BERLIN, Senior Editor, APTA Passenger Transport

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The tale of a Loop and a fashion shoot . . .

Sort of sounds like one of the challenges from Project Runway!

Wink Magazine, a local publication providing news and photos of lifestyle, fashion, arts and entertainment and subculture in South Side Bethlehem, featured a story on the 9/18/2010 LOOPapalooza, a new fest designed to promote Downtown Bethlehem and the LOOP bus service. To promote the event, Wink published a photo layout of the “Ladies of the LOOP,” that included Samantha Schwartz, Downtown Business Association Manager and her three college interns: Meghan, Lindley and Kara and featured clothing and shoes from local shops. As far as we can tell, it is the first time such 'glamor' has been associated with public transit in the Valley. And it is long overdue!

We thought you might enjoy reading the tale of the photo shoot, and seeing the photos, all reprinted here with permission of the publisher, Tina Hemmerle, and the author/photographer, Alison Leigh:

“ … this month’s cover and centerfold photos is a tale of hilarity, necessity and injury. It is a tale of a few chicks who wanted to make something happen, and were willing to do whatever it took to make it so. It is a story that must be told.

We wanted to promote the LOOPapalooza event and showcase the amazing Samantha Schwartz in one issue. Perfect!

‘Let’s do the shoot ON the LOOP bus – brilliant idea! Yes! Let’s use clothing from Loose Threads and Shuze for the entire thing - excellent!’ we thought.

Samantha and her interns showed up at Exkandalo to see their clothing for the first time, get into hair, makeup and wardrobe and travel to the location of the shoot.

Turns out, brand new hire, the lovely Rita Perez, came in for training that day and ended up being thrown into the task of makeup for this shoot. Fresh out of beauty school, the girl took it on and rocked it! Kudos!

Then we styled the hair, put on the clothes, shuffled and re-shuffled the clothes between the girls, quickly sorted and resorted the garments, and finally matched all the models with outfits and shoes. Miraculously, it all worked, and the shows I grabbed from Shuze on South Side matched the outfits, even though I didn’t know the show sizes corresponded with each outfit. I felt pretty cool, indeed, how I pulled this shoot together.

‘Where do we go to do the shoot?’ I asked Samantha.

‘We are just going to a bus stop and get on it when it comes around.” She said.

‘So – we are shooting on the bus – while it’s running?’


I laughed, ‘Okay!’

In order not to wreck the borrowed soles, the ladies all wore their own footwear to board the bus and brought the shoes with. When we got on the Loop at Starter’s Riverport, there were like 8 people on the bus, and a screaming child to boot.

The ladies made their shoe change, and we began taking photos. The cover shot was literally the first photo I took. I asked the ladies for a diamond shape pose, and BAM! Diamond shape pose. Can these girls make things happen? Heck yeah!

I was then informed we either had 10 minutes or one hour for the entire shoot, and one hour was way too long. So within the next ten minutes we shot, we laughed, I bashed my shin against things, we laughed some more. It was 6 p.m. rush hour, and the bus was flying all around town, it was insane and awesome.

So, yes, the photos are a tad blurry, but you know what? Who cares? Anyone can learn how to technically take perfect pictures, but can anyone pull off what we pulled off? Hell no. To me, the photos are perfect.” Alison Leigh, Wink Magazine, September, 2010. Check out Wink Magazine's website by clicking here.

BTW, ridership on the LOOP on the Saturday of the fest was up over 1200%! Now THAT's a LOOPapalooza!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Welcome the 21st Century: Google Transit trip planner

LANTA has been working for more than a year with Google Transit, the folks who furnish a free, online application that provides the public with details of what bus routes to take from one destination to another. It was a challenging task! In addition to all the work required to be completed in-house, a team of 4 went on the road for roughly 3 months to geo code all 2694 bus stops so they are satellite accurate. Staff has been assembling what seems to be a mountain of data and now Google Transit can be used by young and old alike to plan daily travel.

Wonder how it works?

Example question: Is it possible to travel by bus from 14th and Main Street, Northampton to the Staples store at 3300 Lehigh Street, Allentown (South Mall)?

Answer: Now it’s as easy as going to

On the web site plug in the origin and destination addresses, along with the date and time you would like to travel and Google Transit will supply a map showing your requested route, the bus letter/number, time the trip will take, times the bus leaves, and transit cost compared to the cost of driving a personal vehicle.

The question above only requires one bus (Route D), but how will this service work with transfers?

Example question: Is it possible to travel by bus from Center City Allentown (6th and Linden) to downtown Easton (Northampton Street)?

Answer: Again, it is as easy as going to and plugging in the addresses of your origin and destination. (If you are not sure of an address, “Google Map” it first.) The resulting map will show you the bus number/letter and where to connect. Also, on the left side will be the times for the connection.

It’s magic!

Google Transit is currently running but in ‘beta’ format. To try it out, go to and click on the Google Transit trip planner link. We ask that everyone bear with us as minor glitches are worked out. If you bump into any obvious errors with your queries, please forward the url to

LANTA is proud to say that we are the third transit authority in Pennsylvania to be on Google Transit! The other two are Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Donald J. Mahoney

Public transportation - and most specifically, the Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority (LANTA) - lost a staunch supporter, a wise counsel and very dear friend, this week: Donald J. Mahoney. His obituary ( lists his business interests, highlights his career, hobbies and his loving family ... we knew him best of course, for his long association with LANTA as a member of the Board of Directors.

Don was first appointed to the Board in 1978 by County Executive David Bausch for a five-year term and re-appointed for several terms after that. Don's strong suit, according to Mr. Bausch, was his many years of experience in the heavy duty vehicle sales and leasing industry. But, as we came to discover, Don's expertise was a good deal more broad.

Don's judgment, experience, ability to weigh all sides of an issue before offering an opinion were invaluable to the success that the Authority achieved over the past three decades. Of course, his ready smile and witty Irish sense of humor resulted in his being a pleasure to work with.

Over the 31 years of public service Don dedicated as a LANTA Board member, he served as Chairman of the Authority and also, at various times, as Chair of all the Authorities standing committees. He was Chair of the LANTA Operations/Metro Committee for many years. During Don's tenure, he assisted the decision-making process on a wide range of operating and capital improvements both in terms of vehicles and physical plant expansion. While Don was on the Board, LANTA purchased, more than 200 heavy-duty Metro city transit buses, and 500 minibuses for its Metro Plus paratransit divisions! A monumental achievement!

The community has been fortunate in the quality of leadership available for appointment to the various of boards and Authorities throughout Lehigh and Northampton Counties. Don Mahoney stands out as one of the truly sage and generous leaders who was there when the community needed him, and who moved on gracefully when his tenure came to an end.

Our thoughts are with his family who suffer his loss most dearly. We, to whom he was such a great and loyal friend for so many years, deeply mourn his passing. His contributions live on however, and the riding public in the Lehigh Valley enjoys the benefits of his stable leadership each and every time they board a modern, well-maintained bus.

We've missed him since he left our Board room a little over a year ago but at least on occasion, we could meet and break bread with him. Now, we don't even have that to look forward to and we miss him all the more.

Rest in peace, Don.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Focused Group

Last week a group of LANTA Metro passengers sat down together over donuts and coffee and talked about how much they liked riding the bus. And they also spoke about how the system could be improved so that they and others like them might find it more useful.

The coffee klatch which took place in the later afternoon at the Allentown Transportation Center, lasted 2 hours and was facilitated by representatives of Brecon Hill and Thiel Design, two consulting firms out of Wisconsin that are helping LANTA redefine and upgrade its passenger information system.

Among the many recommendations that came out of the Moving LANTA Forward planning effort last year was one that said Metro bus information was difficult to understand. LANTA hired Brecon Hill/Thiel to help evaluate the information base further and to come up with an improved package for customers.

The bus rider meeting was very important in the process. Obviously, what riders say will weigh heavily on the outcome. The participants were selected over a two day period on a random basis. LANTA staff wearing shirts with the corporate logo and armed with a clipboard, approach customers at the Allentown Transportation Center inviting them to be involved. Twenty were invited: 18 showed up at the appointed time.

Out of what was a ‘study session,’ not a focus group, came a plethora of information and impressions:

. The LANTA Metro rider group was very positive about the transit system. While some depended upon Metro for all their transportation needs, others chose to use it because it saved money and was a convenience. Some also said it felt good to ride because it ‘helped the environment.’

. The riders knew one another because they rode the bus. They met on board and enjoyed seeing one another as their paths crossed riding the system. Half said that they only knew each other because of the bus and felt a sense of community because of the shared experience.

. No one complained about transit fares and, despite the fact that more than half of those present had to make bus transfers, no one complained about service access. Some of the things that were said:

“Metro is my lifeblood.”

“I use the bus 4 times a day – for work and for daycare. I could never get to my job if it were not for Metro.”

“Most drivers are helpful when I have a question.”

“I’m glad someone at the Metro Office speaks Spanish because that really helps when my Mom calls them.”

“I like Sunday service, I just wish there was more of it.”

Not all comments were positive: the group had their favorite drivers and those that they avoided. And they bemoaned the fact that service was limited at times and that buses did not run more frequently.

But this is all valuable input as the Authority looks to expand the system.

Over and over LANTA hears that the public wants more service. The major challenge continues to be how to pay for it.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Environmental Assessment and Public Hearing: Easton Intermodal Transportation Center

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority (LANTA), and the City of Easton, have completed an Environmental Assessment (EA) for the proposed Easton Intermodal Transportation Center.

Click here to view the final draft of the Easton Intermodal Transportation Center Environmental Assessment

This EA has been prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act for FTA as the lead federal agency. This project involves the construction of an intermodal transportation center along with a 3-level parking garage and a 3-story commercial building at 123 and 181 South Third Street (former Perkins Restaurant and Marquis Theatre properties) in the City of Easton, Northampton County.

The EA is available for public review online at and during regular business hours at the following locations:

City of Easton, Planning Bureau, City Hall, 3rd Floor
Easton Area Public Library, 515 Church Street

LANTA, Easton Office, 3610 Nicholas Street

LANTA, Main Office, 1060 Lehigh Street, Allentown

The public hearing will be held on Tuesday, August 17, 2010:

5:00 PM to 6:00 PM Informal Public Open House
6:00 PM to 7:30 PM Presentation and Public Comment Period


Grand Eastonian Suites Hotel

140 Northampton Street
Easton, PA

The meeting location is accessible to persons with disabilities. Anyone requiring special accommodations for this meeting, or for more information, contact LANTA at (610) 435-4052.

A 30-day public review period for the EA begins July 21, 2010 and will end August 20, 2010 at 5:00 PM. Comments must be received by no later than 5:00 PM on Friday, August 20, 2010.

Comments may be made at the public hearing, or submitted in writing, faxed, or emailed to:

Mr. Armand Greco, Executive Director

Lehigh & Northampton Transportation Authority

1060 Lehigh Street

Allentown, PA 18103

Tel: (610) 435-4052; Fax: (610) 435-6774;


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Lehigh Valley Commute

Check out the new Lehigh Valley Commute site: transportation information for commuting in and about the Valley.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Electric cars versus Transit: Is it time to choose again?

Most have heard by now about the ''Great American Streetcar Conspiracy" with GM, Firestone, Standard Oil - and even Mack Trucks - through a company called National City Lines, worked to purchase and dispose of trolley and light rail lines in favor of rubber-tire buses in the 1950's. The film released a few years back: "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," was about the demise of the 'red line' trolley in Los Angeles - the land of the new American travel path: the 'freeway.'

The unintended consequence of this 'revolution' was that less attractive bus systems began to lose ridership big time as the love affair with the private auto in post-war America took hold.

As we look out upon the sea of automobiles moving in and out and around our urban areas on ribbons of expensive highways, while a skeletal system of public transit struggles to compete and to maintain balanced budgets with public subsidies, there is no doubt that the auto 'won' the hearts of Americans in the post WW II decades. And it took but a handful of decades to make the private transit systems unprofitable.

We quote this statistic: 50 million passengers rode the public transit system in the Lehigh Valley in the year 1950. By 1971, this figure dropped to 2.6 million! That loss of volume resulted in service cuts and fare increases until the public sector had to assume responsibility for a community asset that could not be let to disappear. In 1972, LANTA, the bi-county transit authority was created so that many who did not or could not own autos or drive had a public transit alternative.

Recently, fuel shortages and high energy costs and a movement to counter Urban sprawl has us at another crossroads. How the next few years sorts out with our mobility choices will have an impact on our nation likely for another set of decades to come.

Will low-cost, fuel efficient or alternative powered private automobiles be developed and marketed to replace the existing vehicle fleet or will governments - national, state and local - expand their support and funding for public transportation so that it again truly becomes a viable alternative to driving?

An interesting article on the electric vehicle versus transit is worth reading and pondering:

Which way should our future be influenced to unfold? And who is going to win or lose this next competition?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

PennDOT Officials Review Carbon County Community Transit

Pictured, from left to right are: Steve Panko and Anthony Steever, Officials from PennDOT and Denis Meyers, LANTA staff.

As part of their obligation under Federal Transit Administration (FTA) guidelines, representatives of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s (PennDOT’s) Rural Transit Division were on site in Allentown and Nesquehonging to conduct a thorough review of the Carbon County Community Transportation (CCCT) system.

Since 1996, LANTA has been managing the transit operation in Carbon County on behalf of that community. LANTA staff oversees the operations and submits plans and applications to PennDOT on behalf of Carbon, to provide door-to-door demand response Shared Ride services and the Lynx, a fixed-route service that links the major boroughs in the County.

The daily operations are provided by way of a subcontract with the private, for-profit Easton Coach Company of Forks Township.

PennDOT reviewed the financial management elements as well as the operation itself and inspected the fleet equipment that is purchased with FTA and state funds.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

LANTA Testimony before House Transportation Committee June 3 at DeSales U

Click here to read testimony delivered by Armando V. Greco, LANTA Executive Director, before PA House Transportation Committee June 3rd, 2010 at DeSales University.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Cash, tickets or passes: the same but with some tweaks

Installers will be busy the weekend of June 5 and 6 installing new, state-of-the-art fareboxes on all 78 LANTA Metro city transit buses. The new fare collection system from GFI Genfare retains revenue security features while adding some new, customer friendly conveniences. As a result of this new technology passengers should be aware of the following changes.

1. Exact change continues to be preferred for all rides, but, in the event that someone overpays, the new farebox will produce 'paper change' - a voucher good for use for future bus fare payment.

2. Checks can no longer be accepted on the bus. Passengers wishing to pay with checks must purchase passes from LANTA offices, transit centers and current ticket agencies.*

3. A display screen facing the customer will show the total amount deposited.

4. LANTA Metro bus operators will no longer sell tickets or passes directly; all passes and tickets will be purchased through the new farebox. Repeat: all fare payments - cash, tickets and passes will go through the farebox. LANTA offices, transit centers and current ticket agencies will continue to sell passes.*

5. All 31-Day pass purchased through the farebox will be activated at the time of purchase. However, if you need to purchase a 31-day passes that is not activated (such as for a gift for later use) these will continue to be sold at agencies* and will not be activated until they are swiped through the box on board.

6. LANTA will no longer sell 40-Ride tickets after this week. The 10-ride ticket will be issued through the farebox.

7. ALL tickets and passes purchased prior to June 7th will still be accepted in the new fareboxes until they expire.

On Monday June 7th, boarding LANTA Metro buses may be slightly slower due to the new fareboxes as customers - and drivers - get acclimated to their unique features. Important note: NO changes in fares are being implemented with this change out of fareboxes.

*Metro tickets and passes are also sold at the following locations:

  • Allentown Transportation Center, 6th & Linden
  • Family Center, 8th and Hamilton Streets
  • Little Apple IGA, 7th and Allen Streets
  • LANTA Customer Service, 1060 Lehigh Street


  • Plaza Cards and Snacks in The Marketplace
  • Guetter and Broad Metro Transit Center, Downtown Bethlehem


  • LANTA Customer Service, 3610 Nicholas Street, Palmer Township

Monday, May 24, 2010


The answer to the Lehigh Valley’s trivia question, How many bus stops are there in the LANTA Metro bus system? Is ........ 2,694!

We know for sure because we had a team out in the field for about 6 weeks visiting every one of them. And it was not just a count that we were trying to obtain: For Google Transit and for the new Automated Transportation Management System (ATMS) being implemented this Fall, we need precise geo code information for each and every stop. We needed a latitude and a longitude that could interact with satellite systems hovering over the planet and software and transponders in vehicles that could locate them exactly on the streets
and highways of the Valley.

Owen O’Neil, LANTA’s Director of Planning observes that “It was to us a monumental task when we started out back in March. After all, we were going to be physically visiting over 2500 locations from one end of the two Counties to the other! We thought we could complete it in 6 weeks but we really had no idea … it could have taken far more time than it did.”

A team of four, hired part-time for this specific assignment, used hand-held digital devices to record geo codes while standing at stops along with a small set of other relevant information about the location.

“We figured as long as we were out there and visiting each stop, we would gather other data.” notes O’Neil, “It was important to build a bus stop inventory for future improvements and maintenance purposes so we know exactly where there are signs, benches, shelters and where there are none.”

The inventory will help establish a work plan for installing new bus stop signs and additional passenger amenities in the coming months and years.

The field team also evaluated whether or not the stop was accessible according to guidelines set forth in the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In addition to creating an inventory, the data will be used in the ATMS system to provide passengers with real-time information about bus arrivals and departures at stops.

“Using a cellular phone or a PDA, customers will no longer have to wonder when the next bus is coming,” notes O’Neil, “They can access that via the internet.”

Bus schedule times will also be listed at signs at Metro’s major transfer hubs: the Allentown Transportation Center, Bethlehem Broad and Guetter, the Lehigh Valley Mall and eventually, the Easton Intermodal Transportation Center.

When completed, public transit will truly have entered the 21st century in the Lehigh Valley.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

State Funding Crisis: Current LANTA Operation and Future Growth in Jeopardy

Governor Edward Rendell held a special and extraordinary session with the General Assembly on Tuesday May 4 to address immediate and long-term shortfalls of transportation funding in Pennsylvania. “Failure to implement either the tolling measure on Interstate 80 or other revenue enhancements will have a direct effect on both capital and operating programs for public transit agencies across the state,” said Armand Greco, LANTA Executive Director.

The statewide implications include an immediate $484-million capital shortfall and an operating funding freeze.

When Act 44 was passed in 2007 it was designed to provide for a predictable, sustainable and growing source of revenue for both highways and public transportation systems throughout the Commonwealth. The revenue to properly fund Act 44 was predicated upon I-80 being converted to a toll road along with annual toll increases to the existing Pennsylvania Turnpike.

“Without the revenue that Act 44 envisioned Pennsylvania will continue to struggle to maintain its highways and bridges, and, most significantly to LANTA and its riders, public transportation systems will be in an ongoing funding crisis,” according to Greco.

Effective July 1, 2010, transit systems will lose $160 million annually, nearly eliminating the Act 44 capital program. The loss of capital funding presents serious problems for LANTA which risks losing almost seven million additional dollars of Federal capital funds because State capital funds are used to match federal dollars.

LANTA has several capital projects that will be impacted in the near future without adequate State capital funding. Among them are:

· City transit vehicle replacement
LANTA has been very attentive in meeting its capital needs. The number one capital priority is vehicle replacement. Older vehicles are subject to more frequent breakdowns and maintenance. By ensuring vehicles have not exceeded the recommended useful life, the Authority is able to keep maintenance costs lower. In addition, they are able to improve service quality by minimizing system failures. LANTA’s current 12-year capital plan includes $16,400,000 for vehicle replacements over the next three years.

· Fleet expansion
LANTA recently completed a year-long Regional Transportation Development Program (“Moving LANTA Forward”). The study, which included significant public input, recommended substantial service expansion in terms of service area and frequency. Without adequate State funding, the expansion will be not happen. Current 12-year capital plans include $6,000,000 for vehicle expansion over the next three years.

· Alternative fuel vehicles
LANTA is in the process of receiving delivery of 5 hybrid vehicles. These combination electric/diesel powered vehicles sharply reduce pollutants and provide improvement in fuel economy. Without additional capital funding, LANTA will be unable to proceed with plans to expand the purchase of alternative fuel vehicles. These vehicles, because they are new technology, cost about 60% more than regular diesel fleet vehicles. If there are funding constraints, lower cost, higher polluting vehicles will be purchased.

· Maintenance Facility Renovation/Expansion
LANTA is working with an engineering form to design a new state-of-the-art maintenance facility. The existing bus maintenance garage, built in 1953, is not adequate to service LANTA’s 78 vehicle fleet, plus the five hybrid buses that will arrive later this summer. Due to the maintenance garage size constraint it is necessary for some bus work to be completed in other areas of LANTA’s facility.

In addition to the capital funding shortfall, transit will not be afforded the growing source of operating funds promised in Act 44. This will certainly result in LANTA not being in the position to carry through with some, if not all, of the Moving LANTA Forward plans for service expansion and, even worse, may lead to service reductions.

“Pennsylvania needs a long-term transportation investment plan that supports a safe, growing and reliable transportation network that includes public transportation,” Greco said. “We are pleased that the Governor called for a special session of the legislature to address this issue,” he added.

Monday, May 10, 2010

State of Good Repair

The Federal Transit Administration, as part of the follow-through on the Obama Administration’s commitment to improving and expanding public transit services in the US, announced a major new funding initiative to address capital and perhaps operating deficiencies in the industry.

In an address to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) conference in Cleveland, Ohio, the FTA Administrator announced the ‘State of Good Repair’ program as reported by that organization in an email blast sent out over the weekend:

“Peter M. Rogoff, administrator of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), announced a new federal grant program offering $775 million in competitive grants for bus state of good repair—open to all bus operators, ‘large, small, urban, and rural’—during his keynote speech May 2 before an audience of approximately 630 transit professionals at the Opening General Session of the APTA Bus & Paratransit Conference in Cleveland Ohio.

The administrator spoke candidly about the current economic situation, and said: ‘I want to assure you that today’s FTA is facing these issues with our eyes wide open.’

Rogoff discussed the administration’s Fiscal Year 2011 budget recommendation, stating that ‘far and away the largest percentage increase is just for state of good repair.’ He took pains to make clear that ‘FTA is equally focused on the state of good repair on the rail and the bus systems.’

Under the proposed budget. the bus share will be no less than it is right now and would provide bus riders with a predictable stream of formula funding that currently does not exist.

He concluded by thanking the participants for ‘showing that money in transit is money well spent.’ Rogoff then said: ‘We need to step up our game even when financial times are hard—we need to do things harder and smarter. And as we are stepping up our game, we look forward to being your full partner as you step up yours.’”

The “State of Good Repair” capital projects initiative will make funds available to public transit providers to finance capital projects to replace, rehabilitate, and purchase buses and related equipment and to construct/rehabilitate bus-related facilities, including programs of bus and bus related projects which may include assistance to sub-recipients that are public agencies, private companies engaged in public transportation, or private non-profit organizations. The FTA has set forth priorities for the discretionary funds, the criteria FTA will use to identify meritorious projects for funding, and a description of how to apply.

LANTA staff are reviewing the FTA regulations and application guidelines now to see how these funds could be applied locally. If appropriate, an application will be submitted for this national discretionary fund program.

“We’d like to continue to replace our existing diesel bus fleet with hybrid vehicles,” notes Armand Greco, LANTA Executive Director, “And we are exploring the potential benefits of substituting these funds for current operating obligations to see if that would help the Authority over time fund its major capital programs.”

Five new hybrid vehicles are set to be delivered at the end of May to be placed into service sometime in June, 2010.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tweets and Blasts, Fans and Friends

During an unusually difficult winter snow season, the Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority (LANTA) kept its passengers informed not only with traditional means – notices to the print and electronic media, recorded ‘phone messages and web site alerts – but through social networking methods: Twitter and Facebook.

Last year, the Authority established a presence on Twitter (LANTALV at and Facebook ( and ‘joined’ the two media so that a posting, or Tweet, on Twitter appeared on the Facebook fan page. The message also appears simultaneously on LANTA Web log ( All the social networking sites are listed at the bottom of the pages of LANTA’s website (

“While obviously a wide information reach is attained through traditional media outlets, we are now reaching out more directly to interested individuals through online, social media outlets,” notes Denis Meyers, LANTA’s Assistant Executive Director for Development. “The print media, which is gaining more and more of an online presence locally, even linked routinely to our social media outlets to keep the public informed of the status of the transit system. LANTA’s messages became the media messages with a single click.”

Meyers notes that the messages also go to smart phones and PDA devices subsctibers.

“We’ve provided PDA and cellular phone access to our static schedules for several years now, but it is very satisfying to raise the contact level to this interactive state to give high interest residents instant messages about the transit operations.” Meyers points out.

It was particularly important to get information out this year due to the extreme severity of the weather conditions in this mid-eastern Pennsylvania community with a service area population of just over 390,000.

“For the first time in two decades, LANTA Metro had to cancel services due to severe snow conditions,” Meyers reports. “It was vital that we reached our passenger base before they ventured out into the winter storm to catch their morning bus.”

Feedback on the new communications system has been positive. And LANTA believes that this is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of interactive information systems available for customers.

“We are in the midst of a year-long project to implement real-time passenger information within our system,” notes Meyers. “By the Winter of 2010-2011, passengers will be able to get real-time schedule updates on the transit system through a variety of means: Internet, signs at major transfer hubs, cellular ‘phone and PDA.”

Friday, March 19, 2010


A message from the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority, Fred A. Williams:

"Our thoughts and our prayers go out for this young boy, his parents and his family, and also the driver who was involved in this tragic event. It's a difficult time for all the people that are involved. But on behalf of the board of directors, the drivers, the staff of LANTA, we all mourn the loss of this young man and his tragic event."

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Moving LANTA Forward: Final Report Issued

The final report for the Moving LANTA Forward Regional Transportation Development plan has been published. The recommendations contained in the report were adopted by resolution by LANTA's Board of Directors at their January meeting.

Essentially, the plan commits the Board to growing the public transportation system while, at the same time, predicating that growth upon available funding and the commitment by the community to implement transit friendly design elements.

In addition to service expansion, the plan calls for more visability for the transit system, enhanced passenger amenities such as shelters and benches and a more user-friendly system of public information.

Click on the cover of the report above to obtain a complete copy in pdf format.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Ridership Continiues to Grow

What goes up, must come down

Well not always.

Especially when it comes to gas prices at the pump and ridership on LANTA’s Metro bus system.

How many people ride LANTA Metro buses? More than you realize! Metro attracts people from all walks of life and takes them where they need to go: employment, medical appointments, shopping, church, schools and educational facilities, libraries, parks, family and friend gatherings, just to name a few.

Ridership levels on Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority’s buses appear to follow the course mapped by fuel prices. Bus travel was at its highest during the first half of Fiscal Year 2008-2009 (July 1, 2008 – December 31, 2008). Statistics show that more than 3,175,000 trips were taken on Metro during this time frame.

To what do we credit this factor? Think back: the start of FY 2008-2009 saw a spike in fuel prices. When prices at the pump topped $4 a gallon, some people were motivated to leave their costly vehicles at home and take the bus. As prices slowly began to fall some bus riders returned to driving their personal vehicles, but a great many of them remain steady Metro customers.

LANTA’s ridership for the first half of the current Fiscal Year 2009-2010 (July 1, 2009 – December 31, 2009) comes in a tad lower than the previous fiscal year, at 3,140,304 passenger trips.

This is only 1.1 percent less than the previous period. LANTA has retained an impressive 90% of the rider growth gained during the gas price surge! Obviously, those who gave the bus a try, liked the experience and are still enjoying the savings even as gas prices have dropped to around $2.60 a gallon - about a 35% drop from the $4 high last year!

Through the new Moving LANTA Forward transit development plan for restructured and expanded service, Metro will become accessible to more people.

It looks as if the sky's the limit for gaining new riders and once people climb aboard, they tend to become loyal Metro riders.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Easton Intermodal Presentation & Comment Form

To view the presentation for the public meeting scheduled for Thursday, February 18, please click here.

This is a power point presentation designed to introduce the project, review its purpose and scope and outline the funding requirements.

If you wish to submit comments to be considered as part of the planning process, please find a comment form here

Comments, suggestions, input are welcome in any format and can be emailed to:

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Public Meeting: Easton Intermodal Transit Center

Meeting Announcement: Proposed Easton Intermodal Transit Center Project

This project involves the construction of an intermodal transit center along with a 2 - 3 story level parking garage and a 3 story commercial building at 123 and 181 South Third Street (former Perkins Restaurant and Marquis Theatre properties) in the City of Easton, Northampton County, Pennsylvania.

The meeting will be held Thursday, February 18, 2010, Easton Council Chambers, 1 South Third Street, Easton

The purpose of the meeting is to introduce the project and to provide interested individuals an opportunity early in the project design and planning phase to submit comments and suggestions. In accord with the National Environmental Policy Act, an Environmental Assessment (EA) document will be prepared in advance of the project approval. It is anticipated that the EA will be available for public review and comment in May.

The meeting location is accessible to persons with disabilities. Anyone requiring special accommodations for this meeting, or for additional information, please contact:

Armando V. Greco, Executive Director

Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority

1060 Lehigh Street

Allentown, PA 18103