Transit route to Clinton County is ‘growing steadily’

The new River Valley Transit’s Clinton County service was highlighted by Kevin Kilpatrick in his report to the Williamsport Area Transit Survey advisory committee’s meeting Thursday.

Kilpatrick said it’s a demonstration project that the state agency is funding for three years. If after that time, it meets certain criteria, it will be accepted and move on to be a route of its own and will be funded by the state.

“We are very happy. It’s steadily growing at Clinton County,” Kilpatrick said. “We started in March with 1,100 riders and it’s been growing steady. In August, we had 1,700 riders and last month we had 1,500 riders. That’s pretty good for starting a new area and a new service.” Kilpatrick said the goal is 100 riders a day so that in a month’s time the number would be around 2,400. “We’re getting there,” he added.

River Valley Transit also is working to increase the student ridership on the route by encouraging people who commute to Lock Haven University from the Williamsport- Jersey Shore area to ride the bus and conversely people from Clinton County who attend college in Williamsport could travel by bus.

“We have also had riders for jobs,” he said, noting that Clinton County Industrial Park is outside of Lock Haven.

Kilpatrick revealed that the transit system is going to be doing a customer satisfaction survey in the next few months in order to get feedback on their services. Representatives of the system will be on board buses to aid riders in filling out the survey.

He also noted that as of now, 19 of the transit system’s 29 buses run on compressed natural gas, which results in a savings for the service.

“We can fill up a bus for less than half the cost of diesel,” he said. “Every year our budget for fuel is going down instead of up.”

STEP Inc., the shared ride provider for Lycoming and Clinton counties also is purchasing smaller natural gas buses, according to Rachelle Abbott, chief operations and planning officer for the agency. She said that this year to date they have about 92 trips up from last year. Of those about half of the trips have been with people who have a disability. She added that the majority of trips are for medical reasons.

Abbott said STEP is working with UPMC because of the larger lift potential of their vehicles. She said this enables people who are being discharged from the hospital who may exceed the weight limit for lifts in the hospital’s general carriers, possibly because of larger wheel chairs, to be transported.

“Right now it’s just this UPMC campus, for the pilot, but it definitely could be moving to other places,” she added.