Equitable Transit Planning Council

The Scranton Area Community Foundation and the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia created the Equitable Transit Planning Council as part of an initiative to advance the dialogue around equitable transportation access in the Scranton-Wilkes Barre region in the fall of 2017. The Council was organized in response to the increase in local residents in Northeastern PA who have shared that transportation barriers limit access to affordable housing, job opportunity, and quality health care. The initiative began by organizing the council to convene key regional stakeholders whose role was to better understand the specific impediments and explore opportunities to collaborate on a comprehensive transportation strategy that promotes inclusive regional growth.


One of the achievements of the Council was a summit held in October of 2017 in Scranton. This summit brought together a broader group of stakeholders from the public and private sectors to further discuss enhancing transit access in northeastern Pennsylvania while highlighting successful models in other parts of the country.


Key takeaways from the groups meetings and summit were that:


  • The current transit system is an impediment to regional economic growth in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Economic development is limited by the current system and the region is missing opportunities to attract new businesses that are choosing to locate in other regions with more robust transportation networks. The system does not meet the needs of those who are most reliant on its services, particularly those of lower income. The economy as a whole will not grow to its potential if low and moderate income residents do not have a way to get to work and are unable to access essential services, such as health care.
  • Existing barriers, obstacles, or challenges to creating a more equitable transportation system include limited financial resources/funding for new infrastructure or improvements to existing infrastructure resulting in bus routes and schedules not aligning with demand. The schedule is particularly challenging for those on alternative schedules/work shifts and many industrial parks are not conducive to the flow of buses.
  • Regional successes and important initiatives are already underway such as consolidation of resources and responsibilities across organizations and an emphasis on connecting different modes of transit (i.e. bike racks on buses, bus routes connected to walking paths/trails).


The Vision Statement developed after the summit asserts “All Northeast Pennsylvania residents feel part of a thriving region thanks to a comprehensive and equitable transportation system that creates and expands opportunities.  Life is better because everyone has access to possibilities” and the principles the Council will be guided by to achieve this are “Access to the region’s transportation systems is front and center in every community and economic development plan as well as every health and workforce conversation and an interconnected and collaborative transportation system that has been built on partnerships.


Some of the represented agencies on the council include: The Scranton Area Community Foundation, The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, The County of Lackawanna Transit System (COLTS), Luzerne County Transit Authority (LCTA), Goodwill Industries of NEPA, The Lackawanna County and Luzerne Counties Area Agency on Aging Offices, The Lackawanna County Department of Arts and Culture, The Lackawanna and Luzerne County’s Planning Commissions, The Moses Taylor Foundation, The Northeast Pennsylvanian Alliance (NEPA), PENNDOT and The Office of Pennsylvania State Senator John Blake.