Regional study for bus service advances

Regionalization is still on the table for the Transit Authority of Warren County.

TAWC Director John Aldrich updated the authority’s board of directors that a regionalization study is ready to move into phase two.

Aldrich said that a meeting of transit directors was held at the Erie Metropolitan Transit Authority on May 30 with PennDOT Deputy Director Toby Fauver.

Aldrich said Fauver is “directly under the secretary of transportation. When he spoke to us on the regionalization issue, he is speaking with authority. (We) valued hearing what he had to say.”

Aldrich said Fauver informed the directors that the second phase of a regionalization study – the first phase was completed earlier this year – is about to commence.

As for when phase two might wrap up, Aldrich said the first phase took four to six months and he expects a similar time frame on phase two, meaning a recommendation would come back this fall.

He explained that Fauver said the 3 percent savings revealed in phase one wasn’t accurate, and PennDOT is “expecting to show a 20 percent overall savings in expense. He said so far every project that has gone to phase two of the study, it is because they have prior determined there would besavings and it has turned out that way.”

Aldrich added, “All the phase two studies have regionalized.”

If phase two suggests regionalization, final authority will rest with the county commissioners.

“They will decide to sign off on the regionalization plan,” Aldrich said of the commissioners.

However, should the study recommend regionalization, the county would lose a five-year waiver on local matching funds.

“There is definitely a financial incentive,” said Aldrich, who questioned the reality of a 20 percent savings.

“I’m still not for it,” he said.

Board member Cindy Jarzab pointed out that accounting can be tweaked to match an agenda.

“I spoke almost to the point of being embarrassed pleading our case,” Aldrich said.