Our bus company, LANTA, is at a pivotal point, and the future of regional public transportation is at stake. Ridership is growing fast: up 60% since 1997, up 10% in the last year alone. This past October ridership was up 21% over October a year ago with 85,000 more rides in October than the same month last year. At this rate, LANTA will soon -- for the first time in its 30 year history -- run buses often enough and to enough places to convince a significant number of car drivers to ride the bus. This will mean less traffic congestion, decreased pollution/greenhouse gas emissions; slower suburban sprawl; increased urban vitality and greater economic competitiveness.
However, LANTA started the process this week to raise fares and cut service during 2007, despite the bus company's own projection this will mean sharp drops in ridership.
What can you do?
Start by riding the bus. CAT, your transit advocacy organization, encourages you to support LANTA during this crisis by riding at least once a month. To encourage new riders, the last Friday of each month is set aside as a special Try Transit Day.
If you want to make a larger commitment to public transportation, ride the bus more often. Buy a multiple-ride bus pass, providing more cash for LANTA during this crucial time.
But get on the bus. LANTA buses are clean, on time and, by far, the safest form of transportation on the road. It's hard to be a transit advocate if you don't ride the bus.
Both county executives support public transportation. However, the two county leaders need to hear from you, so they can gauge how important this issue is now for the public.
Contact Lehigh County Executive, Don Cunningham (610-782-3001) or e-mail him Attn: Don Cunningham at firstname.lastname@example.org, and Northampton County Executive, John Stoffa (610-559-3191) or e-mail him at email@example.com
We need state legislation that provides a reliable funding stream for mass transit before July 1, 2007. If funding is not granted, emergency funding is needed to prevent the service cuts proposed for our bus company in fiscal 2007-08.
Call or write your State Representative and Senator immediately. See www.legis.state.pa.us/ for contact information.
Mark your calendar for one of LANTA's public hearings on the fare increases/service cuts, January 30 in downtown Easton; January 31 in downtown Allentown; and February 1 in downtown Bethlehem. All meetings are at Noon.
Because, if you want better public transportation in the Lehigh Valley, now is the time to speak out.
Steve Schmitt, Director
Joyce Marin, Vice President
CAT-Coalition for Appropriate Transportation