Wednesday, June 29, 2011

LANta Board Approves 2012 Budget

LANta's Weekly Newsletter Vol 3, No 20, June 29, 2011

The Authority spent time during their June 14, 2011 Board of Director’s meeting reviewing the Annual budget recommended for approval by the Finance/Planning Committee who had been deliberating over the financial blueprint for fiscal 2012 for the past four months.

The key assumptions for the LANtaBus operating budget are: the implementation of the fare increase, with the expectation of no loss in ridership; the projection of special fares revenue resulting from various services; the projection of special fares revenue resulting from various services; the expense changes including wages, based on projected hours; the implementation of the new Moving LANTA Forward route structure; and specifics including increases in cost from areas such as the pension program, health care insurance, and the cost of fuel.

The plan designates 50% of the advertising revenue from FY 2011-2012 (a total of $275,000) as reserve for a local match required for capital improvement grants. This special fund designation represents a positive impact on the county budget grant requirements.

The LANtaBus budget sets forth revenues of $10.2 million and operating expenses of $2.7 million. Grants are projected to cover an additional $12.4 million in operating loss. The remaining amount required to cover expenses ($123,789) will be taken from the Authority’s fund balance.

For the LANtaVan service budget, key assumptions are total trips of 425,000; the continued increase in the MATP services in terms of riders, cost, and revenue; and the purchase of service cost that is in accordance with the current contract with Easton Coach Company.

The budget sets forth total revenue in the amount of $11.4 million; projected operating expenses of $11.8 million; and an estimated excess of expenses over revenue, a shortfall of about $473,000. The shortfall will be covered through fund balances from previous operating years.

The cost of diesel fuel remains a prime challenge for management and efforts continue to be made to control these costs through competitive bid initiatives sometimes on a month-to-month basis.

Staff opened proposals for the supply and installation of new bus stop signs on Friday, June 10, 2011 and two recommendations were set forth. The Board approved the following recommendations:

1. To ensure timely implementation of the project, the Authority awarded the sign production contract to Reliable Sign and Stripping of Bethlehem, PA as the primary contractor and Sharp Signs of Emmaus, PA as the secondary contractor.

2. Due to the nature of the project, staff felt it is important to have flexibility in the installation services. Accordingly, the Authority awarded contacts for bus stop signage installation to the three lowest price proposers: Fast Signs, Allentown, PA; Reliable Sign and Stripping, Bethlehem, PA; and Sharp Sign, Emmaus, PA. Staff would then use each contractor on an as needed basis.

This is one item that must be completed prior to LANta’s route changes, which has an implementation date of August 29, 2011. There are many other items that require completion and it was noted that they are all moving along nicely and in a timely fashion.

NOTE: No bus service or paratransit van service on Monday, July 4th, 2011. Happy birthday America!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

New Identity, June 22, 2011, Vol 3, No 19

You have seen LANTA’s Logo many times over the years; on their buses, their website, advertisements in the newspaper/magazines, on various printed materials, and many other places. However, on July 12, 2011 a new identity for LANTA will be rolled out. You have already had a sneak peak at it and may not have realized it. You've seen it on the top Left of the newsletter and in the signature of emails you receive from some employees at LANTA.

The Logo above is the umbrella which encompasses all LANta divisions; hence a generic term for the Metro bus or van. The double ellipse pattern in the logomark represents LANta’s service area - Lehigh and Northampton Counties. The overlap of the double ellipse results in three shapes representing the three main cities LANta serves - Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton. The uppercase LAN initials emphasize the two counties; the lower case letters, Transit Authority. The colors in the logo mark are “Pennsylvania Dutch blue” combined with “Lehigh Valley green” and the overlap, presents a rich teal as a third graphic element. The blue and green circles are forward tilted to symbolize the forward attitude of the Authority: it is poised for progress and

The two logos above will differentiate between the fixed route bus, currently LANTA Metro and the paratransit van, currently Metro Plus. Easton Coach Company will continue to run the paratransit service for LANta, but will be LANtaVan - not Metro Plus. But since most vans are marked Metro Plus and the exterior change will only occur with new vehicle acquisition, the Metro Plus name will live on for a few years.

LANtaFlex is a reservation based, curb-to-curb, service provided by LANta which is designed to meet mobility needs in the more suburban communities of the Lehigh Valley in the most efficient way. LANtaFlex service allows passengers to travel within a defined area, or Flex Zone. Each Flex Zone includes one or more locations at which riders can transfer to and from LANta Bus routes.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

New LANta Fares: Oct 1, 2011 - Vol 3, No. 18

You may say, "LANTA just increased its fares last year, why are they doing it again this year?" Well, it is part of a multi-year effort to reduce the discount between cash fares and passes; i.e., it will only affect ticket and pass prices, not cash fares. LANta's long term goal is to provide a more sustainable fare structure that will be equitable to all passengers and increase the average passenger fare collected. Because of discounts on tickets and passes, the average fare collected in fiscal 2010 was only .91 cents per passenger. The fare policy goal adopted by the LANTA Board last year, is to increase that to $1.20 per passenger. To accomplish this, rather than raise fares across-the-board, the Authority is increasing ticket and pass prices over a four year period. The first phase was implemented last September and this second step is going into effect Oct 1.

The new fare structure proposal was reviewed at the Annual Public Hearing on May 4. There were no comments or questions received about the proposal.

New fares for October 1, 2011:

LANTA/Metro Fares
Day Pass Unlimited rides all day! $4.00
1 Ride Fare One Ride Fare. $2.00
Children age 5 and under ride free with a fare-paying adult.
10 Ride Ticket FareSaver Ticket $15.00
31 Day Pass Good for 31 Days after first use $55.00

Annual Pass = $605.00 (12, 31-day passes for the price of 12

At the June 14th meeting of the LANta Board of Directors, the new fare structure was approved as part of the annual budget for fiscal 2012. The fare changes will go into effect on October 1, this year.

Tickets and passes still offer the transit passenger a hefty discount of at least 25%. Riding LANTA remains the smart choice and a great bargain.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Proposed Program of Projects

During the 2nd quarter each year LANTA estimates what funds will be necessary for operating and capital expenses throughout the upcoming fiscal year (July 1 through June 30 of the following year). The capital program of projects LANTA is proposing is presented in general terms. Funds are being sought to support these projects through Sections 5307, 5309, 5340 and other sections of the Transit title of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Act – A Legacy for Users.

Approximately $7 million is available to the Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton urbanized area for capital improvements to the Lehigh Valley public transportation system through FFY 2012. Projected operating expenses for the Authority's Metro and Metro Plus Divisions for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2011 are expected to be approximately $37 million.

Given these operating assumptions, projected revenues, predictions concerning levels of government funding, and the economic environment - LANTA expects to generate approximately $24.7 million in operating revenue. Financial assistance grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the amount of $11.6 million is available through PA Act 44 of 2007.

These funds, available fund balances and approved support from the Counties of Lehigh and Northampton will provide additional revenue to balance LANTA’s projected $37 million operating budget.

In addition to operating funds, the Authority will be applying for capital and planning funds from the federal government to support the following projects.

1. Purchase 20 accessible vehicles for the Metro Plus division. Total project cost: $1,360,000.

2. General/miscellaneous shop and office equipment purchases. Projected cost $1,150,000.

3. The Annual bus preventative maintenance program is estimated to cost $4,000,000 using fund available through the Federal Transit Administration.

4. A total of $650,000 in FTA funding will be used under the ADA paratransit capitalization program.

5. The FTA transportation enhancement projects set aside is $65,000.

6. ITS – intelligent transportation system and other security projects are budgeted at $150,000.