Cumberland County lawmakers are right to take their time weighing a proposal to consolidate mass-transit systems in Central Pennsylvania. While the potential for lower costs and better service is alluring, there’s a long road ahead before either is a reality. County commissioners are serving taxpayers well by studying the proposal in methodical phases.

PennDOT is pushing for consolidation of transit systems in Adams, Berks, Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry and York counties. Similar consolidation of transit systems elsewhere in the state have proven popular with riders, ultimately leading to more frequent service that can get people where they need to go more easily than before. A study suggests merging transit agencies would reduce costs by a stunning 24.5 percent, and reduce the workforce from 172 to 122 full-time employees. (Those savings likely would come from eliminating redundant layers of management, not bus drivers or mechanics.)

Like all studies, though, the numbers are far from final, and more homework needs to be done.

The county already has to grapple with Gov. Tom Corbett’s mandate that more money be spent on public transportation. Money spent on capital transit projects would shift more burden off of the state and onto counties. (The county’s share now is 3.33 percent. The governor wants that to jump to 20 percent. Ditto for operating match. The governor wants the county to cough up 20 percent of that expense, up from 15 percent.) Since the county’s main income source is property tax revenue, county taxpayers already are going to spend more on funding public transportation. How a larger, merged transit agency would change those formulas is unclear.

Fortunately, county leaders have time to do their homework. The next phase of the study is expected to take at least another year to complete.

(2) comments

pystil

In Cumberland county we have yellow 30 seat school busses, white 15 seat County busses, and hundreds of small 8 seat mini private school vans buzzing around the county, yet none of this is coordinated. Most of the school busses and private school vans are only used 180 days a year then sit for the summer.

pystil

Would it not make sense for some of these school busses to be used on regular bus routes through out the day. Enola to Camp Hill to New Cumberland to Mechanicsburg to Carlisle to Shippensburg via Newville. The white county vans could run smaller routes to Boiling Springs and Mt Holley to Carlisle. Three county busses could circulate through Carlisle covering the malls, hospital, downtown, college. Two busses for Mechanicsburg, 3 busses to cover and link Enola, Camp Hill and New Cumberland.

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