In the summer of 2009, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) examined potential benefits of and opportunities for coordination and consolidation among Pennsylvania’s Human Service Transportation providers. In spring 2010, PennDOT solicited proposals for pilot programs for Human Service Transportation coordination and consolidation. PennDOT received numerous proposals, among them a proposal from the City of Hazleton, Luzerne County, and Lackawanna County that, in addition to Human Service Transportation, requested a study of coordination or consolidation of fixed- route services. PennDOT selected and funded the proposal.
In summer 2011, following the analysis of a five-agency consolidation, the Lackawanna and Luzerne County Commissioners requested the examination of consolidation within each county. The project concluded in late 2011 and a final report was produced on February 29, 2012. The report stated that full consolidation would maximize financial benefits, individual county consolidation would reduce costs while maintaining service at or above current levels thus making public transit sustainable in the region. Detailed study results, recommendations, and implementation plans were provided in the project’s technical memorandums.
Over the past few years while the transit authorities implemented some of the recommendations, including consolidating the respective coordinated transit systems into the individual authorities, discussions took place in reference to updating the study and moving to the next steps, including possible consolidation of the authorities.
On November 17th of last year, PENNDOT Deputy Secretary Toby Fauver met with representatives of the two counties, the transit systems and county planners to begin the process. He stated the Department has a policy of working with transit authorities to implement costs savings and improved service through consolidation.
On January 18th of this year representatives of Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties, along with their transit systems and Hazleton Public Transit, met to discuss the next steps, which included adoption by the respective agencies and counties, of a resolution to examine the feasibility of establishing a regional transportation authority to encompass Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties in order to establish a more cohesive and cost effective system for the residents of Northeast Pennsylvania.
The draft resolution was distributed to the parties and also PENNDOT’s Bureau of Multimodal Transportation for review. After completion of the review, the revised document was submitted to the respective agencies for adoption. To date the Luzerne County Transit Authority (LCTA, Lackawanna County Transit System (COLTS) and Lackawanna County Commissioners have approved the resolution.
On approval of the Luzerne County Council, Hazleton Public Transit and the City of Hazleton, a steering committee will be formed to oversee the study.