Here comes the bus

First Quality becomes silent partner

SARAH PAEZ/THE EXPRESS Among members of the Public Transit Advisory Committee are, from left, Clinton County Planning Director Katie de Silva, City Councilman Steve Stevenson, UPMC Susquehanna Lock Haven Director of Marketing and Public Relations Jeff Johns, RVT Planning Director Kevin Kilpatrick, and STEP Transportation Manager Dan Merk, all at the table.

By SARAH PAEZ

spaez@lockhaven.com

LOCK HAVEN — After months of budget impasse and stalled state funding, Clinton County residents will finally get bus service, on Feb. 20.

And for the rest of February, everyone rides free.

Members of the Public Transit Advisory Committee unveiled finalized bus routes, fare information and more at Monday’s planning meeting.

But there were still more changes.

Albert Jones, director of human resources at First Quality Tissue, said his organization would be taking a backseat to Clinton County bus service plans.

“First Quality is going to continue to support the River Valley Transit project, but in a silent way,” he said. “We’re more going to be behind the scenes, continuing to support the community’s endeavor.”

This announcement might change the terms of the funding agreement and the routes slightly. First Quality will no longer be listed as an official sponsor of the RVT project. The county solicitor, Larry Coploff, is working on new agreements for all the partners to sign. Those partners include the county, the county Housing Authority, Lock Haven University and the City of Lock Haven. Currently the group is reaching out to UPMC Susquehanna McElhattan to see if it will also become a partner.

Bill Nichols, general manager of RVT, and Kevin Kilpatrick, planning manager of RVT, were on hand Monday, going over fare information and routes.

The two routes to serve local riders are named the Clinton County Express and the Clinton County Connector.

The express route will run two morning pickups, starting at Fairfield/Lycoming Mall Drive at 5:20 a.m. and the Williamsport Trade & Transit Center at 7:45 a.m., stopping at UPMC McElhattan/Bald Eagle Court, First Quality Lock Haven, UPMC Lock Haven, and Walmart before looping back to Williamsport. It will also run two evening pick ups starting at 5:15 and 5:45 p.m. from the Trade & Transit Center and ending up back there at 6:45 and 8:15 p.m.

“Obviously we have stops between times,” Nichols said.

He said riders will be able to pull a cord to signal to the bus driver when they want to get off. He also said people will be able to flag down the bus from the street.

“Initially, we will be very flexible about that,” he said.

The connector route will connect Avis, Lock Haven and Mill Hall with the Jersey Shore connection to Williamsport. It will run two routes from the intersection of Thomas and Allegheny streets in Jersey Shore, to Walmart in Mill Hall, stopping at UPMC McElhattan/Bald Eagle Court, Clinton County Community Center, Lock Haven University/Fairview, First Quality Lock Haven and UPMC Lock Haven. Both routes also include the Clinton County Piper Building outbound to Williamsport. The later route catches the Jersey Shore connector at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

Nichols said the connector route is meant to serve shoppers, university students or those with afternoon work shifts. The first bus leaves Jersey Shore inbound at 9:30 a.m. and the last bus leaves Lock Haven outbound at 4:30 p.m.

“If the Lock Haven bus were late, would the Jersey Shore bus leave?” asked Planning Director Katie de Silva.

Nichols, Kilpatrick, and RVT representatives John Kiehl and Tim Miller said the Lock Haven bus is scheduled to get to Jersey Shore earlier than the connector bus arrives. And it won’t leave until the Lock Haven bus shows up.

RVT Clinton County services will run Monday through Saturday.

Nichols explained the two kinds of fares–EZ fares and standard fares. Riders can buy an EZ Pass from a machine on the bus, inside the Trade & Transit Centre or other locations around town.

EZ Fares:

r One Day EZ Pass; 2-Ride Pass–$2.25

r One Day EZ Pass from driver; 2-Ride Pass from driver–$2.50

r 7-Day EZ Pass; 10-Ride EZ Pass–$12

r 20-Ride EZ Pass–$22

r 31-Day EZ Pass–$40

Standard Fares for one ride:

r Cash–$2

r Tokens (4 for $5)–One

r Seniors 65+ (with I.D.)–Free

r Youth (17 and under)–$1

r Disabled (with I.D.)–$1

r Child (Age 5 and under)–Free

r Transfers–Free.

There is also a special, three-month Youth Pass for $20, available to those 17 and younger.

Steve Stevenson, Lock Haven city council member and vice president of the Clinton County Economic Partnership, asked about the fare rate for university students.

Nichols said RVT would implement a fare program similar to the kind it uses in Williamsport — all students ride free with a LycoPass or PennPass. In Lock Haven, he said, it would be something like a Bald Eagle Pass. LHU faculty and staff would also ride free.

Also, county workers, UPMC workers, and city workers will ride free.

For riders over 60, coupons will be available at the local STEP Office of Aging for discounted fares. Also, some rider passes will come with coupons to redeem at local businesses.

For riders on a schedule, Nichols said there is now a smartphone app called MyRide, which tracks the bus location and time of arrival.

Additionally, ride passes are transferable, meaning they can be used to redeem more than one person’s rides, Nichols and his team explained. A day pass, however, is not transferable because it is assigned to one rider.

Each bus also comes equipped with security cameras for safety measures.

“Seventy-five percent of our buses now have bike racks,” Nichols said.

De Silva said that information could be good for rail-trail tourism, because both Clinton County routes pass by the Jersey Shore entrance of Rails to Trails.

RVT just got eight new compressed natural gas buses, according to Kilpatrick.

“They’re not bringing dirty air up here,” he said.

In the next week, members of the Public Transit Advisory Committee will approach local merchants about selling EZ passes and offering coupon deals for bus riders. The STEP Office of Aging and Downtown Lock Haven, Inc. will probably begin selling passes come March.

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