Transit Authority board looks down road

Last Thursday’s meeting of the Transit Authority of Warren County’s (TAWC) board of directors featured discussion of capital expenditures both immediate and long-term.

TAWC Director John Aldrich reported the organization has applied for shared ride capital funds for two new buses and should be notified soon if the application was approved.

“Maybe by next meeting we should hear,” Aldrich said.

The buses purchased with the funds would likely be fueled by compressed natural gas (CNG), which led to larger discussion on potential future CNG usage.

The board is looking into the possibility of eventually building a CNG fueling station, but was unsure if space would be available at the TAWC site on Clark Street.

Aldrich noted that, as there is a trend for organizations with fleets of vehicles to transition to CNG, other organizations that may be looking at the change could be contacted on the issue.

One organization discussed specifically was the City of Warren. The possibility of partnering with the city on a fuel station should plans move forward was also discussed.

Aldrich also announced he had submitted the long-range capital plan for TAWC to PennDOT.

The plan outlines anticipated capital expenditures, and funding sources for those expenditures, in coming years.

“Our capital needs are pretty much for buses,” Aldrich said. “Our building project is pretty much done.”

In fact, the plan, which extends to 2036, accounts for only one non-bus expenditure funding to relocate electrical and plumbing infrastructure for the wash bay at the TAWC building in 2017. The current wash bay arrangement has led to issues with corrosion and electrical components being located in a wet environment.

Other anticipated expenditures in the plan include regular replacement of shared-ride buses. Two are scheduled for replacement every year from now until 2018 and four are scheduled for replacement in 2020 and every four years thereafter.

An additional five fixed-route buses are anticipated for replacement in 2021.

In total, the planned capital expenditures total $4,477,125 and anticipate $4,395,000 in state funding and $82,125 in local match funds over the full 23 years in the plan.

It was also reported that TAWC buses have been down frequently due to mechanical issues, sometimes causing routes to go down temporarily.

The board discussed hiring another mechanic to reduce time for repairs, but Aldrich urged waiting to see where possible transportation regionalization plans go first.

Aldrich also announced a study on possible regionalization of services has been put on hold. He cited determination of the scope of study work as a contributing factor to the delay.

Aldrich reported McKissock Education has requested use of the garage at the TAWC building for a fundraising event. The benefit, which will be held from 9 a.m until 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 22, would raise money for work with orphans in Tanzania.

“We’ve done things like this in the past,” Aldrich noted. “We did two or three last year.”

The board agreed to the proposal.

Aldrich suggested considering formulation of a formal policy for usage of the TAWC building, since there have been regular requests made.

Fixed route ridership for January was 5,319 riders as compared to 5,812 last January and 5,634 in December. Program expenses in January were $82,781.70.

Shared route ridership for January was 2,869 riders as compared to 3,540 last January and 3,009 in December. Program expenses in January were $46,771.49.

“The last two months have been bad weather months,” Aldrich noted of the declines.

He added the shared ride program canceled one to one and a half days of service due to low ridership in January.

The medical assistance program logged 543 clients and 1,211 one-way trips in January with 23 cancellations and six no-shows. Program expenses in January were $24,063.92.