TAWC board told state requiring more detailed data on ridership

PennDOT is requiring that transit systems keep more detailed data about who is riding the bus and when.

That data will then be used to make accurate determinations regarding fare rates.

For the Transit Authority of Warren County’s fixed route program, that means a fare increase isn’t likely in the cards for several years.

TAWC Director John Aldrich explained at the authority’s board of directors’ meeting Thursday afternoon that, in line with the state’s recent transportation reforms, four characteristics will require a particularly close analysis moving forward miles traveled, numbers of hours on the road, total number of passengers and total number of senior citizen passengers.

Aldrich said those four numbers are “one hundred percent of the methodology to determine funding” from the state. “They want to make sure those numbers are correct.”

He added that the authority is “trying to make a good effort that ours are correct. Hours and miles don’t seem to be a problem (but) total passengers and senior passengers need to be watched more closely.”

A policy was also approved outlining the equation for evaluating potential fare increases.

According to the policy, they will measure the percentage increase from the previous fare. That percentage will be compared to the federal inflation rate.

“Should the rate of inflation be greater than the percentage rate of the latest base fare increase, the Board will implement a fixed route fare increase,” according to the policy.

Authority staff are fairly certain an increase will not be needed for some time because the percent increase from the last fare hike, 33.3 percent from 75 cents to $1 far exceeds the U.S. inflation rate from 2012-2014 of 5.2 percent. The last increase was in July 2012.

“(We) should be good for a few years before we have to consider increasing our base fare,” Aldrich said.

In other business, separate agreements with Experience, Inc. and the Sheffield Hospitality Center were approved.

The agreement with Experience, Inc. requires TAWC to provide transportation for the seniors of Warren County while Experience, Inc. contributes to TAWC’s required local match funding.

The Sheffield Hospitality Center agreement will require TAWC to pay mileage to the Hospitality Center, which, in turn, provides transportation services in the Sheffield area.