Clinton County may see more bus stops

LOCK HAVEN — The Clinton County Public Transit Committee has ideas on how to increase ridership on public buses serving the area.

Up until this year, Lock Haven was the only third-class city in Pennsylvania not to have public bus service.

It’s being provided by River Valley Transit in Williamsport, with buses starting at RVT’s Trade and Transit Centre before making their way through Jersey Shore to Greater Lock Haven.

Officials know they have to continue to educate people about the service to grow ridership.

“We have been working with Lock Haven University to see if there are opportunities for us to help them with their transportation. We are willing to bring a trolley up there for next semester, just to see what kind of reaction we get, hopefully a positive one,” said RVT General Manager William Nichols Jr. “That is just one of the ideas we are looking at and talking about. It would not take away from current routes. Nothing stops us from accommodating more than the state budget requires us to.”

Nichols said the committee has been in contact with Truck Lite Co. LLC near the Clinton County Industrial Park, along with the Keystone Central School District and the county prison to set up bus stops there.

“We are doing projects with CareerLink. People are struggling to get to work due to no access to transportation. Clients are more likely to talk to case managers or social services, and these kinds of programs would allow them the opportunity to know the answers to these questions,” Nichols said.

From Dec. 12 through 14, RVT will conduct its annual “Tour of the Lights,” which is a route that takes about 20 minutes and goes through Candy Cane Lane in South Williamsport.

“This event sells out quick,” said Kevin Kilpatrick, transit committee planner.

“As long as we spread the word, it will bring in ridership. People will see it, and it will be out there, and it will get more people involved. We will be able to run with it. We have been under the radar, but we are starting to get above the radar and get the word out there,” Nichols said.

The committee says there is a MyRide app system in place and bus stops will be numbered with more signs going up.

“We are happy with where we are at. We aren’t going to hit a target on day one … otherwise they wouldn’t call it a target,” said Kilpatrick.

Committee member Jeff Rich did a survey of ridership to 350 households in Lock Haven in August and received 63 responses.

“It was a list of very simple yes or no answers. A lot of people knew about our services, but haven’t used them,” Rich said. “They don’t know how to use the bus, and they grew up in an area without bus services for so long. Once we get over those hurdles, we will be able to encourage people to use our services more. People don’t know where the busses go, or they don’t know where the stops are.”

“We will get there. People help each other,” said Nichols.

“We have a philosophy to maintain our services through all snow or winter storms,” Nichols added. “The best practice is to never miss a trip. In the case of a state emergency, we have to shut everything down, but otherwise the busses will complete their scheduled routes.”

“Walmart in the Montoursville Plaza is a partner. Weis is a partner. It is easy to sell to these businesses when the customers are already there. It helps them to expand their business by getting people in the door,” he said.

“We have done giveaways, Hiawatha tie-ins on the radio and other such promotions such as “Quarter Saturday” and “King for the Day” with Burger King. There have been a bunch of different promotions to get people out and riding the bus.” Kilpatrick noted.