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 http://twitter.com/) and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Allentown-PA/LANTA-Lehigh-Valley-Metro/129767331032?ref=mf) 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 (http://movinglantaforward.blogspot.com/). All the social networking sites are listed at the bottom of the pages of LANTA’s website (www.lantabus.com).

“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.