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River Valley Transit: A 50-year tale of practical innovation

Fifty years ago, the city of Williamsport purchased a private bus company for $75,000 and established its own bus system.

The bus system served the city. The buses ran on gasoline fuel. The buses had no radios or communication system. If there was a breakdown, customers were dropped off at a store and the driver would go inside and call the bus garage.

It was one of the earliest forms of the regionalization that we uniformly stand behind today regarding a host of governmental services.

A half century later, much of the River Valley Transit fleet is run on compressed natural gas, a cleaner burning fuel than diesel or petroleum.

There are two Trade and Transit Centers downtown that serve as the hub for bus service and a center for a variety of community activities.

And the service includes all of Lycoming County and beyond. There are fixed route and shared ride services in Bradford, Tioga and Sullivan counties as well as services north of the city.

Services have been expanded to Clinton County too.

And pending approval of several government bodies, a fixed route transit setup to Union, Snyder, Northumberland, Montour and Columbia counties is coming.

The 50-year story of River Valley Transit is one of innovation and smart, practical, timely expansion that has paid a massive dividend to those who need public transportation.

And that is no small number — 1.4 million people annually.

There are plenty of examples of the government getting overly involved in services best left to the private sector. River Valley Transit stands as a refreshing example of the correct use of government management and service.

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