Monday, December 3, 2012

Holiday Service hours: 2012

In observance of New Year's Day, the following service modifications are noted for LANtaBus and LANtaVan services:


Regular service Monday, December 31st;  NO service Tuesday, January 1st; Regular service resumes Wednesday, January 2nd.

Customer service office hours:

Regular hours Monday, December 31st; Closed Tuesday, January 1st.

Business offices, Allentown and Easton:

Tuesday, January 1st, Closed 

Allentown Transportation Center, & the Bethlehem Metro Mart: 

Closed when buses are not running.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

A Very Happy Thanksgiving to customers, employees and all who support public transit!  Enjoy the holiday.  No service tomorrow, Nov 22; regular service resumes Friday.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

LANtaBus and LANtaVan Services Resume Weds

The Authority has announced that LANtaBus and LANtaVan services will resume tomorrow morning, Wednesday, October 31, 2012.  LANtaBus routes and schedules will be operated on as normal a schedule as possible given the street conditions.  Passengers concerned about their LANtaVan trip, should call the carrier.  

The service cancellations that occurred over the past two days are extremely rare and were implemented because of the concern the Authority has for the safety of its passengers and employees and its fleet equipment.

Hurricane Sandy has been termed "the storm of the century" and the "worst storm conditions in recorded history."  The Authority acted in the most prudent manner possible given the conditions reported and observed.  These include local area flooding, street closures and unsafe conditions at bus stops.

We appreciate the patience of our customers during this most challenging period.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Tuesday, Oct 30, 2012 Service Suspended

LANTA has announced that LANtaBus service will be suspended on Tuesday, October 30, 2012 in response to very severe weather conditions caused by hurricane Sandy.  LANtaVan services are also cancelled except for semi-emergency medical service trips already scheduled.

LANTA Operations staff will continue to monitor conditions and service will be resumed as early as those conditions permit.

Such service cancellations are extremely rare and only implemented when the Authority believes that the safety of its passengers and employees would be in jeopardy if service was operated.

Hurricane Sandy has been termed "the storm of the century" and the "worst storm conditions in recorded history."  The Authority is acting in the most prudent manner possible given all the conditions reported and observed and these include local area flooding, street closures and unsafe conditions at bus stops.

We appreciate your patience and will resume service at the earliest possible opportunity.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

No Service Monday, Oct 29, 2012

LANtaBus service will not be operated tomorrow, Monday, October 29, 2012 due to storm conditions caused by hurricane Sandy.  LANtaVan service will be very limited: only dialysis and major medical services that are life-sustaining.

Public transit services in the Valley are rarely cancelled.  Only in the event of major storm or snow conditions has service been interrupted.

We apologize for this inconvenience, but common sense informs us that the best place to be in the midst of this storm is home.

A message from Gov. Corbett: Hurricane Sandy: What to Expect

Follow @GovernorCorbett on Twitter or like Governor Corbett’s facebook page to get the latest updates on the storm and Pennsylvania’s response. Governor Corbett is advising Pennsylvanians on what to expect during Hurricane Sandy.

This storm is historic. Pennsylvania is currently operating under a state of emergency and Governor Corbett today requested a federal declaration of emergency from the President.  
Weather reports at this time indicate that Pennsylvania can expect the following over Monday and Tuesday of this week:
·   Sustained, high winds close to 45 miles per hour. These winds could be sustained in some areas for 24 to 36 hours.  
·   Heavy rainfall across the state, in some areas up to 10 inches total.
·   Snow in higher elevation areas in the western part of the state.
·   Possible flooding in low lying areas.
Click here to download a guide on how you can prepare.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

LANTA Awarded Prestigious AdWheel Award

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) recently announced the winner of their annual AdWheel Award for the most creative internet homepage from among their national membership. The 2012 award recognized Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority (LANta) for “excellence in communications and web page design.”  The award was announced at the Annual APTA Conference in Seattle, Washington on October 2 (2012).

Entitled the “best of the best” in the public transportation industry, according to APTA, the annual AdWheel award winners “represent an outstanding role model of excellence, leadership and innovation whose development of their website have greatly advanced public transportation,” stated APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy.  The more than 500 applicants were categorized by size and specialty.  LANta qualified in the group of peer transit agencies with more than four million and fewer than 20 million passenger trips annually.

“An AdWheel Award recipient sets the bar for extraordinary public transit communications,” Melaniphy said. “We celebrate their remarkable ability to create engaging materials and messages to advance public transportation,” he added.

The web page, which was redesigned as part of the Authority’s Moving LANta Forward initiative implemented last year, was a result of a detailed analysis of LANta’s corporate identity and communications program.  The page ( was re-organized, given a new and modern design and tested for ease of use and quick access to bus information, including state-of the-art real-time information at the forefront of modern web-based marketing.

The web page was designed by Thiel Design / Brecon Hill Consulting, Milwaukee, WI.  LANta also recognized Genna Communications of Lower Macungie Township (PA), the Authority’s marketing consultant and Koury Enterprises, Lehigh Valley (PA), the authority’s webmaster and publisher for their roles in implementing the new website into the full marketing program.

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is a nonprofit international association of 1,500 public and private member organizations, engaged in the areas of public bus transit, paratransit, light rail, commuter rail, subways, waterborne services, as well as intercity and high-speed rail.  More than 90 percent of the people using public transportation in the United States and Canada are served by APTA member systems.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

An Overview of Local Transit Services Vol 4 Issue 21 09/17/2012

       In August 2011 LANta changed the way bus routes were identified from a lettering system to a three-digit numbering system. This change, while initially confusing to some, was intended to make the system more user friendly. By designating the routes with three digit numbers, LANta was able to create route categories that provide the rider with an indication of the level of service provided by that route. 

Below is a description of the route categories: 

       100’s routes (i.e, 101,102, etc.) – These routes are the system’s “trunk” routes, the backbone of the system. They offer the highest level of service along corridors with the highest demand for public transportation in the Lehigh Valley. They will also act as the priority routes for future service enhancements as resources become available. The 100’s routes provide service Monday through Saturday throughout the day and into the evening hours, as well as during the day on Sunday. 

       200’s routes – (i.e. 209, 210, etc.) These routes serve urban corridors where there is less demand for public transportation than the trunk corroders. The 200’s routes provide service 13-hours a day, Monday through Saturday. 

       300’s routes – (i.e. 321, 322, 323) This series of routes provide service along more suburban corridors in the region where there is demand for public transportation, but the demand is limited. Service is provided Monday through Friday during day hours only. 

       400’s routes – (i.e. 410, 420, etc.) These routes operate during the school year only and provide added capacity to the LANtaBus system to meet the demand from Allentown School District students. 

       500’s routes – (501) These are the LANtaFlex routes. LANtaFlex is a flexible, reservation-based feeder service designed for more suburban areas. LANtaFlex was started as a pilot program in August 2011 in the Macungie-Alburtis area and has been successful to date.

       600’s routes - (i.e. 601, 602, etc.) – These are circulator and cross-town routes designed to address specific markets. Some of the specialty routes are the Route 602 - Whirlybird, which serves the shopping centers along MacArthur Road in Whitehall and the 601 - Bethlehem Loop which connects downtown Bethlehem with South Bethlehem destinations like ArtsQuest, NCC – Southside and the Sands Casino.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Voter ID

As most people know by now, in order to vote in Pennsylvania on November 6th, voters are going to have to produce photo ID.  While this is being challenged in court, it is best to assume that the rule will be in effect and prepare accordingly.

LANta provides direct bus service to three of the four PennDOT photo ID sites in the Lehigh Valley:

  Easton Driver License Center
  25th Street Shopping Center
      2473 Nazareth Road
      Easton, PA 18045
      Routes 106 or 216

  Lehigh Valley Driver Center
  1710 Hoover Avenue 
  Allentown, PA 18109
This center is not directly served; the nearest stop is by the Target on the other side of Airport Road

Of course, LANtaVAN service is provided directly to ALL PennDOT photo ID locations.

Proof of birth, residency and a social security number is required by PennDOT in order to obtain an ID.  Click here for the PennDOT application that details the information that is necessary and the forms of proof of birth, residency and other materials that one must bring to the center.

If all information is in order, a photo ID can be obtained on the spot in one visit.  And best of all it is free, valid for 10 years and can be used for many other things besides voting. 

Every citizen has a right, and some say a duty, to vote.  Don't miss your chance to have a voice in this Fall's very important election.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Ticket and Pass Price Changes: 10-01-2012

Effective October 1, 2012, LANTA will be increasing several ticket and pass prices as shown in the table below.  The Authority reviewed this proposal at its Annual Public Hearing earlier this year and noted that this was a continuation of an effort and policy adopted by the Board several years ago, to bring average fare revenue up while minimizing per trip cost increased to passengers.

Note: this is a date change from the earlier announcement:  10/01/2012

NOTE: Cash fares and the day pass are staying the same.  AND, fares for LANtaVAN, door to door services are NOT changing.

Cash Fare
Student Fare
One Day Pass
10 Ride Ticket
31 Day Pass
Annual Pass

LANTA works hard to keep operating costs down so fare increases can be as low and as infrequent as possible.  Ticket and pass discounts over the years, because the Authority tended to raise fares moderately and built up a very 'deep discount' for tickets and passes.  Over time, ticket and pass discounts grew to be in excess of 60%.  That is much higher than industry standards and certainly is not matched by any of LANTA's peers.  Most transit agencies offer a modest discount on tickets and passes which are generally viewed as ways to make transit more convenient, not less expensive.

These heavy discounts led to the average fare per passenger collected to be extraordinarily low in comparison to other transit agencies.  And, while LANTA doesn't seek parity with other agencies, these are a reference and, with revenue from fares being such a significant matter in these austere times, the Authority simply could not responsibly continue to afford these discounts.

So, for the past several years, cash fare increases have been minimal while increases to ticket and pass prices, while still moderate, have been implemented annually to enhance revenue coming from passengers.

This year, cash fares and the very popular day pass are not being increased while the 10-ride, 31 day pass and the annual pass are being raised.

Public transit remains the best bargain in terms of commuting and traveling about the Lehigh Valley.  Compared to driving, well, there is no comparison.  Simply use this cost comparison calculator to measure your savings using the bus when compared to driving.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Progress: The "new" Shop comes down!

The "new shop," an addition to the LANta garage and maintenance facility that was added in 1953 to accommodate the repair of buses, is being demolished to make way for a truly new structure.

The purpose of the new shop is to replace the current maintenance shop at the Allentown location (1060 Lehigh St, Allentown, PA)  with a modern, state-of-the-art bus maintenance facility that is large enough to meet current needs and will allow for  expansion. The total project budget is $13 million. LANTA was granted $10,400,000 through the Federal Transportation Administration's Bus and Bus Facilities program State of Good Repair initiative to support this project. The remaining funding will come from the State (PennDOT) and LANTA local sources.

Project Goals

•    Provide an upgraded, centralized maintenance support facility.  An upgraded facility will improve the efficiency, effectiveness and safety of the maintenance staff; reduce vehicle maintenance turnaround time and increase storage space. Further, the modern, state- of-the-art bus maintenance facility will be large enough to support new bus types such as hybrid electric (LANTA's fleet currently includes 5 and that portion of the fleet is expected to grow) and articulated buses.

•    Increase vehicle maintenance, service and storage capacity to meet future
demand and long-term needs. LANTA plans to expand operations to meet demand for public transit in the Lehigh Valley.  Ridership on LANTA has increased 73% since 1997.  The current facilities do not allow for the maintenance, storage or service capacity for extra vehicles. The existing fleet of 83 buses will increase to more than 100 buses in the next 6 to 12 years.

Additional Project Benefits

Given the $13 million construction budget, it is anticipated that over 140 jobs will be created in the City of Allentown during the construction phase according to the Federal Council of Economic Advisor's formula. The project itself will be designed utilizing LEED design principles that will affect not only the facility plan but also its construction and operation. The new garage will provide for energy efficiency and reduced energy consumption, allowing LANTA to incorporate more sustainable practices into its maintenance function and to continue to be a "good neighbor" in the urban neighborhood in which the Allentown garage is located.  

Construction Schedule:   Final Design: December, 2011;   Bids let: January/February, 2012;   Construction Start: May, 2012;   Occupancy: June, 2013.

LANTA Background

The Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority (LANTA) is the public transportation provider for Lehigh and Northampton Counties in Pennsylvania. This region, also known as the Lehigh Valley, has a population of 821,623, making it one of the top 65 largest metropolitan areas in the United States. LANTA's service area includes the cities of Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton. LANTA operates a fleet of 83 transit buses with trips provided between the hours of 4:45 AM and midnight, Monday through Saturday and 9:00 AM and 7:30 PM on Sunday. Approximately 65 buses are housed, maintained and operated out of LANTA's Allentown operating facility. The remaining 18 buses are housed, serviced and operated out of a separate facility in Easton. Heavy maintenance work for LANTA's entire 83 bus fleet is performed at the Allentown facility.

Monday, July 16, 2012

MAP-21 Passed to Fund Transportation

Since the Eisenhower Administration established transportation in the 1950’s as a major federal funding element of the national budget, ‘surface transportation legislation’ has been produced by Congress roughly around every 6 years to further the build out the national highway system and, as local needs expanded to include public transportation, freight, rail and alternative transportation, has been expanded to include these intermodal objectives.

Below is a brief overview of transportation legislation since 1986 which shows an evolution from what was essentially a ‘highway’ funding program, to one that focuses on mobility and sustainability.

1987 - STURAA - Surface Transportation and Uniform Relocation Assistance Act of 1987 - also called the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1987. It nominally gave power to apportion money to the Secretary of Transportation. Most noticeably it allowed states to raise the speed limit to 65 miles per hour on rural Interstate highways.  It was a ‘highway’ transportation legislation and public transit remained a separate element both in terms of funding and in the planning process.  Highways were highways and transit was transit and the two were not intertwined.

In 1991 - ISTEA - the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 was enacted.  Called 'ice tea' as in, "this is ice tea not champagne," this was a genuine change in direction for funding, planning and attitude.  It was an attempt to 'level the playing field' and bring an ‘intermodal’ approach to what had traditionally been a ‘highway’ program or law.  The law also moved a considerable amount of decision-making to localities by empowering Metropolitan Planning Organizations to undertake prioritization of transportation projects through a prescribed planning process.  Why, it was asked, should the federal government be deciding what projects localities should design and build?

1998 - TEA-21 - the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century.  The transportation equity act refined the intermodal thrust of ISTEA by putting the power firmly back in the planning process.  It requires that seven planning factors be included in regional transportation plans.  These must:

      1.    Support the economic vitality of the metropolitan planning area;, especially by enabling global competitiveness, productivity and efficiency
      2.    Increase the safety and security for the transportation system for motorized and non-motorized users
      3.    Increase the accessibility and mobility options available to people and for freight
      4.    Protect and enhance the environment promote energy conservation and improve the quality of life,
      5.    Enhance the integration of connectivity of the transportation system, across and between modes, for people and freight,
      6.    Promote efficient system management and operation,
      7.    Emphasize the efficient preservation of existing transportation system.

2005 - SAFTI-LU - the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users - designed "to protect and enhance the environment, promote energy conservation, improve the quality of life, and promote consistency between transportation improvements and State and local planned growth and economic development patterns."  This law further merged the modes to meet the needs for mobility rather than just build highways.  It's purpose was to maintain the highway and bridge system but for new demand, alternatives analysis were required.

2012 – MAP-21 – Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century – provides two years of funding stability instead of the usual 6.  It consolidates some of the programs from SAFTI-LU and attempts to streamline the process for projects while maintaining a strong local decision-making element, planning steps to insure coordination of modes and some initiatives to improve mobility and system performance.

In addition to these transportation laws, other federal and state legislation has an impact on how communities invest in projects.  Environmental concerns have been a significant force in shaping how highways and roads are built and indeed, whether they are built at all.  A heavy set of requirements must be followed now to prove that transportation dollars spent will not adversely affect the environment.  Many projects become so difficult to build that they simply are abandoned.  

And the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 put civil rights measures in place that require transportation dollars to be spent so that access is provided to all citizens regardless of their physical or cognitive limitations.  This has had its most direct impact on public transit as fleet vehicles had to made ‘fully accessible’ and, for those who could not board buses due to their impairments, alternative door-to-door service had to be created.  Locally both LANtaBus and LANtaVan are fully accessible to people with disabilities.

Also in the mix was a concept called 'environmental justice' which was a fancy way of saying the federal dollars had to be spent in such a way as to not negatively impact any protected minority both in terms of hiring and project investments.

The funding of transportation has moved from an ‘assist’ from the federal government, to a funding system that directly influences what is built or bought.  The transportation systems we see today in the US are a direct result of these funding initiatives.  Many 'hoops' or bureaucratic requirements have been set forth to direct localities on what transportation services and projects to select and invest in.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

40th Anniversary Poster

Click here to see an excellent rendering of the 40th Anniversary Poster LANta Commissioned earlier this year by local artist, Paula Yoo, to commemorate the Authority's 40 years of continuous service to the Lehigh Valley Community.  The poster depicts a number of milestones and major accomplishments that the Authority achieved along this four decade route.

The poster was unveiled at the 40th Annual Board of Directors Meeting held at the America on Wheels Museum, Tuesday, July 9th at noon.  Even in these austere times, the Authority has developed a logo and several other elements to mark the anniversary.

As noted at the Board meeting, "Here's to the start of the next 40 years!"

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Successful Launch for LANtaFlex service

One major service change implemented as part of the August 29, 2011 service restructure was the introduction of the first LANtaFlex service.  The Route 501 – Macungie/Alburtis Flex which serves the Lower Macungie, Macungie and Alburtis areas. LANtaFlex is a reservation based flexible service which is open to the general public. LANtaFlex service operates within a geographically defined zone. Riders can travel between any two points within that zone and if they are traveling to or from outside of the zone, they can transfer to/from a LANtaBus service at one of the transit hubs within the zone.

The Macungie/Alburtis Flex service was introduced in the area after the fixed route bus service serving these communities was eliminated due to poor performance. LANta felt that the Flex service model may be more effective at serving this area due to its more sparsely developed suburban nature. The implementation of the Flex zone made service available over an expanded area and also extended service over 12 hours each weekday as opposed to peak period only service provided under the previous service model.

LANtaVan vehicles are used for this service.


Ridership on the Macungie/Alburtis Flex has grown steadily since initial implementation. Ridership grew from 318 riders in September 2011 to 380 in May 2012 with a peak of 558 in February.

Average daily trips have grown from 13 in September 2011 to 19 in May 2012 with a peak of 27 in February. The former fixed route services in the area carried an average of 19 daily passenger trips. The average daily total on the Flex service initially fell below this number for the first few months of service but returned to the pre-implementation average by December 2011 and has consistently reached or surpassed that level since.

To maximize the economies of the new Flex model, the LANtaFlex service has been completely integrated into the LANtaVan system in terms of administration and operations. LANtaVan is the region’s coordinated human service transportation network. LANta’s human service transportation contractor, Easton Coach Company, registers users, takes reservation calls, and schedules and operates the service.  While LANtaFlex is not the first service of its kind in the country, it is one of the first to be completely integrated into a coordinated human service transportation system.


The service model and integration into the LANtaVan system has allowed for significant savings over the previous fixed route bus model.  In terms of financial performance, the net cost of the Flex model was $9,800 less than what net costs would have been under the fixed route bus model while still expanding service availability in geographical coverage and hours of service.


LANta’s administrative offices have only received three calls from members of the public with issues regarding the Flex service since the implementation.  All three issues were addressed by Easton Coach.  Also, LANta reached out to the Human Resources Department at Allen Organ in Macungie, a frequent destination for Flex riders, and asked if they could solicit feedback regarding the service from their employees who use it.  They reported that their employees have had no issues with the service and have been very satisfied with the quality and convenience.


The Macungie/Alburtis LANtaFlex was implemented as a pilot project to determine if this service could be integrated into the LANtaVan system, and it is considered a success. Accordingly, LANta will continue to investigate opportunities to introduce Flex service to other areas of the Valley.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

There's an app for that . . .

We've been working on an 'app' for the LANtaBus real-time schedule information for some time now and we are sure our customers have been impatient with us.  During these 'austere' times, we searched far and wide for the most economical way to have these constructed.  We were surprised that our inquiries with the local academic community and those devoted to the advancement of technology were not successful in terms of finding a 'volunteer' to do the programming.  Maybe transit is not as 'cool' locally as it is in other communities where students did such apps just because they knew how.

But we did find a company that we've worked now for well over a decade: Connecting People, Inc., managed by the skilled and talented Dan Uff.  Dan helped us way back in the early 'net days when LANta had a 'Bulletin Board' online and later when we developed our first web site and now as we enter the 21st Century of technology.

So, the good news, they are done and ready for download.  And better news: they are free!!  In no particular order:

iPhone& iPod Touch

The Android app will work with 'Droid telephones and tablets.  The iPhone/iPod/iPad apps will work with Microsoft based systems.  Use these to explore the system and it's potential to take you where you want to go when you want to go.  Use these to plan your trip and check your bus stop.  Finally, use these when you get to your bus stop to pinpoint precise information as to when the next bus is REALLY going to arrive based on GPS triangulation.

Hot stuff huh?  Did we say it was free?  Well, it is.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

How Green is our Valley?

Ran across this article not too long ago:

London Bike Share Program not as "green" as had first been reported.

The article is interesting in that certain statistics and functional activities were ignored in trying to make this project appear to be contributing greatly to reducing emissions and providing alternative transit. China has similar projects that have been in place for less than a year and is struggling with maintaining them. It begs the question: is there a 'perfect green' project short of simply not traveling?

We think not.  It appears everything, even 'green solutions' have their challenges.

We had to chuckle when we met an advocate for clean air for the first time and she remarked that it was 'unfortunate' that LANTA was 'part of the problem.' We were taken aback for a moment. Public transit prides itself as being part of the solution to air pollution in that by definition it eliminates so many trips that might otherwise be taken by single occupancy auto. Buses provide such a positive benefit compared to what is exhausted into the air as they operate that the scales are truly weighed in its favor. And technical improvements over the past decade have made 'clean diesel' a good deal more than an oxymoron.

As the advocate continued, it became clear that her focus was on the diesel fuel exhaust from the bus fleet and we have to concur, that is unfortunate. But given current technology and the economics of transit, there isn't really any pure, non-polluting energy alternative to transporting people.

The hybrid electric buses LANTA introduced to the Valley transit system last year go a long way towards minimizing pollutants but they still run somewhat on diesel fuel. And someday, the battery packs that help propel the vehilce will need to be replaced and there is the issue of disposing of batteries and the manufacture of new ones. Both processes have elements of pollution to them.

Obviously, what the world needs is a non-polluting energy alternative to power vehicles. The hydrogen fuel cell is the closest thing we've seen towards that end, but it remains a technology that is considered experimental and not entirely practical for general use.

In the meantime, taking the bus - walking when one can do so practically - is the best alternative for those who want to help the environment.

 And it's healthier too!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The History of the Bus

LANTA’s 40th anniversary brought to mind the question, how far back does public transportation go?  So we did a Google search and found out a few things:

Following their initial inception, buses took some time to catch on as a serious mode of transport.

Blaise Pascal, yes, the French Philosopher, invented the first public transit system in Paris in 1662. His system made use of horse drawn buses, that followed a set schedule, along published routes and charged a standardized fare based on distance traveled.

Though initially popular, the service lasted for only 15 years before it ceased to operate. This was due to an increase in ticket price which restricted usage to members of high society.

There then followed a huge gap in the history of the bus. There are no records of any other bus services like Pascal’s until the early 19th century, when horse-drawn buses began to appear once more. The ‘Omnibus’ arrived in Bordeaux, France in 1812 and soon after in Paris, New York and London. In these early days, it was common for passengers to also ride on the roof as well as within, with the buses appearing like a hybrid between a carriage and a stagecoach.

The name ‘bus’ is derived from the Latin word ‘Omnibus’ (meaning “for all”).  A hatter’s shop which bore the name “Omnes Omnibus” was in close vicinity to the first bus station in Nante, France. Users of the bus quickly adopted the name of Omnibus, which has been shortened over time to ‘bus’.

In the 1830s, steam powered buses were known to be in operation and around the same time, electric trolley buses were developed. The latter buses were powered by overhead cables and in many areas preceded the conventional engine bus (London being one such example) and eventually served as the model for the trolley – a vehicle designed to carry large numbers of passengers powered by electricity that came to the vehicle via a ‘trolley’ or link to an overhead wire.

The first buses powered by internal combustion engines were developed in tandem with the motorcar. Following the first engine powered bus in 1895, the design and functionality developed over the next half century, resulting in the contemporary buses we recognize today.

Electric powered operations moved in three directions: the trolley car on fixed rails, the trolley bus – rubber-tired but tethered to an overhead power line and the ‘third rail’ electric car running on elevated rail lines or underground in tunnels which became known as ‘subways.’  It is worth noting that the day the subway opened in 1904 in New York City, the cars were jammed and it doesn’t appear that there has been any reduction in demand since!

Rubber-tired buses remain the main form of public transportation conveyance all over the world today and probably will for the foreseeable future.  If Pascal could have seen into the future, he would be pleased.   And amazed.

 [The copy/content for this article was derived from Bus Stuff: A Brief History of the Bus: ]

Thursday, May 10, 2012

BRT ... Is that something to eat?

Government is infamous for throwing around acronyms. In transportation, BRT is shorthand for Bus Rapid Transit, a transportation node that is part of the long term vision for public transportation in the Lehigh Valley laid out in the Moving LANTA Forward strategic transportation plan the Authority adopted last year.  It’s a term applied to public transportation systems using buses to provide a service that is similar to light rail transit without the rails.

It is a form of transportation pioneered in Curitiba, Brazil! Curitiba, one of the fastest growing, most progressive cities in South America. More than 3 decades ago, Curitiba initiated municipal planning that merged transit friendly designed with land use. Starting with one line along a major corridor, the mode proved so effective that today, all of Curitiba’s main arteries have express bus lanes that are dedicated to ‘bus rapid transit’ service.

The features of this service: it is quick, has limited stops at boarding platforms and uses rubber-tired vehicles that function and provide amenities more akin to subway or light rail service.

See here: ( for an article with more detail about Curitiba.

See here: ( for an excellent video on BRT in Curitiba.

Land use is critical for optimal transit use with higher modes of transportation. LANTA is partnering with Lehigh Valley Planning Commission (LVPC) to dedicate resources to educate the community and municipalities concerning land use and transit oriented design issues.

The Valley already has much of what is needed for an exceptional BRT in place already, but it is not consistent in key corridors.

The Moving LANTA Forward plan calls for service and capital improvements in the short and intermediate terms along “trunk” corridors which can act as a foundation for a future LANTA BRT network. Short and intermediate term service improvements along these trunks include enhancements to the frequency of service and the hours service is available. Potential capital improvements include passenger amenities, technology and ‘transit first’ improvements.

A couple of years ago, there was discussion about ‘rail’ and light rail alternatives in the Valley. When Congressman Dent responded and explored the concept with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) in Washington, given the population density of the Valley, the FTA recommended looking at BRT as a first step. Congressmen Dent promptly obtained a grant to provide LANTA with funds to examine BRT as an alternative and demonstrate its potential.

LANTA Planning staff is working now to begin this alternatives analysis as well as taking steps to define corridors for future BRT projects. Density remains an issue. The Lehigh Valley’s population is 625,000 within Lehigh and Northampton Counties. In urbanized Curitiba, the population is more than twice that: 1.75 million. With the mature BRT system in place today in Curitiba, 90% of this population is served. One of the questions that has to be answered is which comes first: the density or the higher mode of service?  Budget issues may resolve the matter, but there is value in planning.   And in dreaming.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Community Awareness Vol 4 Issue 14

Among LANta’s goals annually, is to reach out to as many people in the community as possible to ensure everyone is aware public transportation is available.   We also want to emphasize that the green effects of taking public transportation are many including:

·        Reduce air pollution

·        Reduce the amount of money spent on personal gas

·        Riding a bus is 79 more safer than riding in an automobile

·        U.S. reliance on foreign oil would decrease by 40 percent if 1 in 10 Americans used public transportation.

·        You are healthier: most rides start with and end with a walk and riding is a lot less stressful than driving

LANta representatives travel throughout the Lehigh and Northampton counties making the community aware of LANtaBus and LANtaVan services. Questions from riders or potential riders are answered and information distributed. Typical questions are how to read the route schedules?, Where to the current routes go?  Application and instructions about how to access and ride LANtaVan paratransit are given out.  Senior application for the ride free if 65+ program are provided.  The new information AVAIL system capabilities are explained and the prices of tickets/passes detailed.  We also describe how to use the fare box and what ticket and pass discounts there are.  We supply any and all information to ensure everyone’s ride will be smooth sailing and they will become a regular customers.

Some residents do not have ready access to a bus route; therefore, they are unable to access public transportation.  Encouraging those with access to public transportation to utilize it more often would allow the entire system to expand and include more frequency and alternative bus routing. This would also create affordable public transportation options in the smaller communities.

Last year LANta presented their information at many events: Musikfest, the Great Allentown Fair, Easton Farmers Market, many senior centers, the annual Senior Expo, health fairs, college campuses, churches, transition schooling, and many community events.

So far in 2012 we have visited Northampton Community College, Allentown’s Bicentennial Celebration event, the Buy LV Chamber Expo, the Allentown Senior Fest, the United Way resource fair, and the Chamber Employee Appreciation Event.

Not many people - neither employees nor employers - are aware that the federal government has tax benefits in order to encourage employees to commute by public transit. These benefits are in the form of tax incentives for businesses to subsidize the cost of bus tickets and passes for employees that can be written off as business expenses. Likewise, these employee benefits are exempt from income tax and pretax wages can be used to purchase tickets and passes lowering the cost even further. For more information about these programs go to:

If you are aware of any groups (college, church, social, senior center) or businesses that would benefit from this type of presentation or display, call Maryann at 610-435-4052 to set up the date and time.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The History of LANta - Part 6

As LANTA approached the turn of the century, it faced financial and other challenges not the least of which was trying to acquire accessible vehicles to meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1992. It was, in a manner of speaking, the worst of times and the best of times . . .

December 1995.
Ten new Orion II mini-buses were placed in service, primarily on shuttle routes. These were the first low floor buses LANta received and were also the first with front wheel drive.

April 1996. LANTA assumed day-to-day responsibilities for operating the Carbon County Community Transit system. Service was contracted out to Palmeri Motor Coach Corporation and Carbon residents enjoyed an immediate improvement to the quality of service provided.

June 1996. Reacting to a massive cut in federal funding, Metro fixed-route service was cut 6.5%. The DASH service ended. This was an extremely painful time for the Board and staff and much credit goes to faithful LANTA riders for adjusting and continuing to ride.

July 1996. The Allentown Intercity Bus Terminal opens for business. The terminal was funded through a grant to LANTA by FTA & PennDOT. The City of Allentown owns the terminal and leases it to Trans Bridge Lines.

August 1996. A four-month experiment with point deviation service began in Lynn Township. Service was provided two days a week to varying locations. It did not succeed.

September 3, 1996. Fares are increased on the Metro system, in response to claims by riders that they would rather pay higher fares than experience more cuts in service. Fixed route fares were raised to $1.35, 10-ridetickets were prices at $9, and 40-ride tickets and monthly passes were $34.

October 1996. The Allentown Intercity Bus Terminal was officially dedicated.

March 1997. The Authority was officially 25 years old. LANta faced severe challenges of decreasing federal funding and its pivotal role in the Welfare to Work initiative.

April 1997. The Commonwealth of PA passed new transit legislation that, in part, addressed the negative effects of federal program cut backs. LANTA assumed management of Carbon County Community Transit (CCCT).

May 14, 1997
. A special 25 cent fare was in effect for the day to celebrate the Authority’s 25th Anniversary.

July 199
7. Zippy, LANTA’s electric bus was removed from service. Gone, but not forgotten, the electrical vehicle effort was a noble experiment and LANTA was proud to be a part of an early effort to adopt alternative fuel vehicles.

September 1997. A special 25 cent cash fare is in effect for the entire month. The ridership increased to 20%. This was part of an effort to support service improvement made possible by the new PA transit legislation.

September 1, 1997.
New Route L began between the Parkway Shopping Center and the Lehigh Valley Mall.

February 1998. LANTA received ten 40', gently used, Neoplan buses from SEPTA that were pressed into service until new buses were acquired.

May 1998.
Trans-Bridge Lines began Amtrak Thruway Express Motor Coach between the Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station. This Demonstration project was an effort to meet demand for services between the Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia. If successful in attracting passengers, Trans-Bridge Lines intended on continuing service.

July 1998. William Malkames was named the 12th Authority Chairman.

August 17, 1998. A new Lynx Route began service between Carbon County and Lehigh County.

September 1998
. A special 25 cent cash fare was in effect for the entire month, again it support new services being offered.

January-February 1999.
LANTA received 15–35” and five-40” New Flyer Low Floor buses and placed them in service. These 20 new buses were put in service to replace the 1983 buses.

April 1999.
The last 1973 GMC bus and all ex-SEPTA buses were retired.
June 1999. New farebox components were installed. An external trim unit was added to all GFI fareboxes that dispensed transfers and day passes. September 1, 1999. An EZ All Day Pass was introduced at a cost of $2.

September 1999.
LV-Amtrak Connection service was discontinued due to low ridership.

October 1, 1999.
A 31-Day EZ Pass was introduced at a cost of $34.

June 2000.
Bicycle racks were installed on the front of all buses.

July 2000
. Fred Williams was named the 13th Authority Chairman.

May 2001.
In partnership with the Lehigh Valley Air Quality Partnership, free rides began on "code red" Ozone Action Days in an effort to reduce pollution from single occupancy automobiles.

August – September 2001. Ten-35’ and ten-40’ New Flyer Low Floor buses arrived and were placed in service.

October 2001.
The last Neoplan bus from the "1,000 bus PA bus purchase" was retired from service.

October 21, 2001.
Sunday service began with 10 routes.

February 2002
. Five-35” and five-40” New Flyer Low Floor buses arrived and were placed in service.

February 9, 2002.
Slater Express Service on Saturdays began between the borough of Portland and Palmer Park Mall in Northampton County.

May 2002.
Last Orion II bus removed from service after a 12-year useful life.

July 2002. Trudy Fatzinger was elected the 14th Authority Chairperson.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The History of LANta - Part 5

January 1991. To address growing social service needs, the Lehigh Valley Transportation Bank, similar to the food bank concept, was formed. Funds were donated to underwrite transportation for the needy for enabling purposes like going to job interviews or medical appointments. Up to $7,000 was raised in some years to meet these needs.

March 1991. The Lehigh Valley Coalition for TransitNow was established to urge state and federal transit funding authorization.

October 11, 1991. Jim Thorpe Tours operate Nazareth service 5 days/week for three years.

December 18, 1991. President George W. Bush signed into law the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991. This Act reauthorized federal funding for six years for the nation’s highways and mass transit. The efforts of the Coalition were a success.

January 14, 1992
. A contract was awarded for three new diesel minibuses to Bus Industries of America. At least two of the vehicles were used in the expanded downtown Allentown circular system.

January 26, 1992. The ADA Act went into effect. LANTA adopted a plan to fully meet federal regulations, allowing more access to those unable to ride the fixed-route buses.

March 1992. LANTA began a year-long celebration of 20 yrs service to the Lehigh Valley.

June 8, 1992. George R. Hall was named the 10th LANTA Chairman.

January 1993. The Authority’s Strategic Plan for 1993-2003 was introduced, focusing on growing and changing needs of the Lehigh Valley and the challenge to meet those needs.

April 1, 1993. The cash fare was set at $1.10. The deep discount ticket program continues, with tickets costing 70 cents per ride. Transfers were prices at 10 cents per ride.

July 12, 1993. New Monday–Friday Starlight service began on three routes; Allentown, Bethlehem and Whitehall areas. Bethlehem–Easton Starlight routing began the following Sept.

August 1993, LANTA provided special shuttle service for Musikfest. The promotional partners shared the operating costs.

September 1993.
A $500,000 renovation project on the Easton garage was completed. This project was funded through an FTA grant and took two years to complete.

November 27-December 19, 1993. Starlight routes operated on Sat. evenings and Sun. during the holiday season. This was the first regular Sun. service in LANTA’s history.

March 17, 1994. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at the Hellertown Park & Ride lot. This was the first officially constructed intermodal facility in the Lehigh Valley.

May 1994. Using the model established for Musikfest, shuttle services for the Mayfair Celebration of the Arts was instituted. The promotional partners shared the operating costs.

July 1994. Donald J. Mahoney was named the 11th Authority Chairman.

September 6, 1994. To meet the growing peak hour demand, new service was introduced in LVIPs IV, V and the Bethlehem Business Park.

November 11, 1994. The WhirlyBird Mall Express, a mall-to-mall shuttle in Whitehall Township was started. LANTA also introduced other shuttle routes in the Whitehall, Fogelsville and Trexlertown areas and assumed operation of the Nazareth service.

January 1995. LANTA began working with Allentown and a private carrier on a project to finance a downtown Allentown intercity bus terminal, located at 6th and Linden Street.

January 30, 1995. The electric bus from Advanced Vehicle Systems arrived at LANTA to be used on the Downtown Allentown service (DASH). DASH was a joint venture between LANTA and PPL, hence the electric bus. This electric bus was lovingly called “Zippy’ by those that both rode and operated the bus.

April 1, 1995. LANTA’s cash fare was set at $1.25. The deep discount ticket program continued, with a 40-ride ticket at 75 cents per ride and 10-ride tickets at 80 cents per ride.

August 1995. Innovative point deviation service began for the Borough of Bath. This combined door-to-door and fixed-route transportation using just one vehicle.

October 1995. An in-dept origin/destination passenger survey took place. After the financial crisis of 1994, LANTA was looking to improve productivity and lower costs.