TAWC updated on major issues

The Transit Authority of Warren County’s board of directors was updated on regionalization, a new vehicle maintenance agreement and possible natural gas fuel options during its meeting Thursday afternoon.

TAWC Director John Aldrich explained that the authority is “connecting” with the Erie Metropolitan Transit Authority to repair the Gillig, fixed-route, buses.

“The big thing with Erie is they have a large fleet of Gillig buses themselves and very good mechanics. They know what they are working on,” Aldrich said. “I think our local mechanic could deal with it.”

He emphasized, however, that the volume of work overflows what one mechanic can complete.

While the TAWC board members voted to approve the agreement, pending additional votes by phone because there was not a quorum present at the meeting, Aldrich said some of the buses have already been to Erie and that it has gone well.

“So far so good,” he said. “We’re having them go over the entire bus to have a good going over.”

The agreement stipulated that TAWC will pay Erie $75 an hour for labor and TAWC “will pay the cost (plus 15 percent) of all parts and materials used by EMTA in providing the maintenance service.”

The agreement also details a series of preventive maintenance items.

Aldrich also told the board that the authority provided a survey to PennDOT about the possibility of compressed natural gas at the facility and he said he thinks “it is going to be pursued by PennDOT. It would be on our property for our system.”

He said that funding might come from last year’s approved state transportation plan.

“I think there are people out there that could use the CNG,” Aldrich said, adding that they are “not stepping forward to show that interest.”

While regionalization might limit what services are coordinated and offered locally, Aldrich suggested, “Even if you regionalize you might have a CNG fueling station in Warren. We’re probably not in the market right away.”

He said the shared-ride bus fleet could be converted to CNG.

On the regionalization issue, Aldrich said he is set to attend a three-day meeting in September to discuss a host of topics related to a possible regional shift.