New med assistance vehicle OK’d

The purchase of a new medical assistance vehicle for the Transit Authority of Warren County has been approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare.

John Aldrich, executive director of TAWC said the vehicle currently used by the authority is a 2000 model year with more than 220,000 miles on the odometer.

Thomas Hessley, chair of the TAWC board of directors, said the new vehicle will be a Chrysler mini-van, and will be used exclusively for medical assistance transports. Chrysler is the only American manufacturer that makes the vans.

Hessley explained that the authority would be reimbursed quarterly for the payments on the van.

Wendy Winkels, TAWC program assistant wrote in an email to Pa. DPW that TAWC was limited on the number of people that could be taken out of the area because of breakdowns in the past.

Aldrich reported that representatives from PennDOT were here earlier in April for a Performance Review, and that there will be work done to address issues raised by the review.

“We will be working on facility maintenance and operations plans for the TAWC building,” he said. He noted that the standard, or “passing grade” is 80 percent of scheduled service work on Gillig buses be completed, and lately TAWC has only reached 54 percent.

The buses are required to have a comprehensive maintenance done every 6,000 miles, and Brad Wilcox, TAWC program assistant, added that the maintenance takes a full day. He noted the Sheffield bus covers 6,000 miles in two months.

Aldrich said they would reorganize some work schedules to try to free up more time for the mechanic, and possibly outsource some work.

“Another item is placing inventory on the computer and installing a closed-circuit camera in the secure money counting room.

He said there will be no fare increase again this year, adding that TAWC fares have always been one of the lowest in the state.

Wilcox said there has been suggestions of having panel work on buses be done by Warren County Career Center students.

Hessley said Shared Ride funding from PennDOT has been increased by $10,000.

Board member Ellen Ruffolo said the projected budget for fiscal year 2014-2015 shows an increase of 1.9 percent over last year, and the board voted to accept the new budget.

In closing, Aldrich thanked the local municipalities for pitching in to help with matching funds for the authority.