Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving and Hannukah!

Happy Thanksgiving - one of the 7 holidays LANta observes during the calendar year - No bus or van service Thursday, Nov 28th. Regular service resumes Friday, Nov 29th.  This year, Thanksgiving and Hannukah fall in the same time period so Happy Hannukah to all our Jewish friends.  We are thankful for you!  Gobble tov!

LANta does not operate service on Easter, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas
and New Year's Day.  The specific dates are listed on LANta's web page: 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Armando V. Greco Maintenance Facility

October 22, 2013 was a major day in the forty-year history of Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority. The dedication of its new $14-million state-of-the-art maintenance facility was crowned by its naming for long-time Executive Director Armando V. Greco.

Named LANta's first executive director in 1977 the young Villanova University engineering graduate laid the groundwork for the formation of the Authority from his position at the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission. Under Greco's leadership LANta has grown significantly both in fleet size as well as ridership. Since 1997 ridership has risen by more than 70 percent.

In remarks at the dedication board chairman Timothy Brady noted Greco's leadership role in many capital improvement programs  "that not only improved the physical assets of the Authority, but replaced the fleet twice during his tenure, all of which ensured the very best travel experience for our riders." 

"Over the decades," Brady added, "Armand has also been leader in the development of major transportation Centers in Allentown and Bethlehem, with the new Easton Intermodal Center scheduled to open in 2014."

The newly minted Armando V. Greco Maintenance Facility replaces a structure built in 1953, with parts dating to 1909.  It is three times larger than the original facility and features in-ground self –contained lifts, more space to work between buses, pressure washing steam room for undercarriage cleaning of buses,  tire room and battery rooms, a nearly full-length skylight for better vision,  above ground storage tanks, and additional modern equipment and utilities.

More than one hundred guests attended the dedication including Greco's wife, Jacqueline, their twin daughters and grandchildren, LANta board members, staff,  bus operators and mechanics and other leading members of the Lehigh Valley community.            
Greco was also cited by Lehigh Valley Congressmen Charlie Dent "for his untiring dedication to the riding public in this great community" and State Senator Pat Browne provided a resolution honoring the LANTA Executive.

In his own remarks, Greco thanked the board for "an honor that is rightly shared by hundreds of LANta employees who over these many years helped make this the quality organization that it is."  Greco stated that he "accepted this honor on behalf of the hundreds of employees over the decades, who were responsible for LANTA's successes."
At the conclusion of the dedication a large bronze plaque was unveiled. It will be affixed to an exterior wall where the executive offices meet the new Armando V.  Greco Maintenance Facility.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The New Garage

In mid April, 2012, the LANTA Board of Directors, representatives of the Federal Transit Administration, PennDOT and invited guests and employees, gathered for the groundbreaking for a new garage and maintenance facility at the Allentown headquarters, 1060 Lehigh Street, Allentown.  Here it is 18 months later and the same group has been invited to a ceremonial dedication of the new facility on Tuesday, October 22 at 10:30 a.m.

The Armando V. Greco Maintenance Facility - 2013

The new building was actually occupied two weeks ago as maintenance staff and mechanics moved into the new environment and workspace.  It is working and working well as a state-of-the-art bus maintenance facility.

As with most of LANTA capital improvement projects, this one has been completed ahead of schedule and under budget.

The new garage was necessitated in order to accommodate new vehicle technologies and different kind of buses.  In the past three decades, electronics are more and more essential elements of a city transit vehicle.  You are as likely these days to see a bus mechanic with a laptop as you are with a wrench. Therefore, new diagnostic and electronic calibrating repair tools are necessary: this new facility offers those in abundance. 

Also, within the past 10 years, LANTA has made a commitment to purchase hybrid vehicles - vehicles powered by a combination of diesel and electric energy.  Hybrid buses are more efficient in terms of fuel economy, pollutants are kept at a minimum and systems last much longer with less maintenance. These vehicles are engineered differently than the standard diesel engine bus. Many of the systems on the vehicle must be accessed above not below the vehicle.  So, a garage with high ceilings and catwalks in addition to bus lifts was needed.

The building is of course, more energy efficient; brighter in terms of illumination; and easier to keep clean.  Special materials were employed on floors and walls to make clean up easier and more effective.  It is also a healthier work space with great attention paid to safety and a cleaner air environment.

We will publish more about the building after next Tuesday's Dedication Ceremony but one surprise announcement we cannot wait to reveal: The LANTA Board of Directors earlier this year decided to name the new facility in honor of its long term Executive Director.  The building will be officially dedicated next Tuesday as the Armando V. Greco Maintenance Facility.

Again, we will publish more about this next week, but right now we want to say congratulations to Armand for a most fitting honor.  He was instrumental in the planning effort that led to the creation of LANTA back in 1972 and, since 1977 has guided the Authority to stability and growth that exceeded everyone expectations way back when.  With more than 40 years of public service, Mr. Greco is one local municipal authority executive who truly deserves recognition.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Encouraging ridership

The last newsletter was the first article in a series that highlighted a department at LANta and reviewed cost saving efforts. Each department is doing their part, and this week we go in depth in the Marketing and Publicity Department and have found they are working diligently to achieve cost savings in through addressing certain target audiences.  This is one area where money invested can achieve a return: each new rider for LANTA brings in revenue and since the Authority's purpose is to provide service, the more provided, the more success is gained.

1. LANta’s web page, which was designed as part of the Authority’s Moving LANta Forward initiative and implemented a year and ½ ago, was a result of a thorough analysis of LANta’s corporate brand. The page,, was revamped, given a face-lift, and tested for ease of use locating bus information, as well as background about the Authority.

This new web site is more user-friendly and almost anything you would like to find out about LANta can be found there. Technology makes the web site available for access 24/7. With this option customers have far greater opportunities to ride the bus and it also gives them the choice to ride at all different times.

Last year LANta took home the AD Wheel Award from the Annual APTA meeting. This recognized them for excellence in communications and web page design. LANta was also called the “best of the best” of the public transportation industry, representing an outstanding role model of excellence, leadership and innovation whose accomplishments on their website have greatly advanced public transportation.

2. As always, LANta has live operators answering the phones from 7:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Monday-Friday and Saturday from 9:00 a.m.- 1:00 p.m. If the phones were covered 24/7 the costs would skyrocket.  During times when Customer Service is closed, or even if they are open, we encourage customers to download our free app. to their iPhone or iPad and access bus real-time information (a Droid app is in the works). They are also encouraged to go through the,, to access weather alerts, LANtaVan information, and stay current on happenings at the transit Authority.  This gives riders, and future riders, a far greater opportunity to ride the bus and it also allows them the option to ride at all times. As ridership goes up so does revenue!

3. LANta can be found on social media sites, currently Facebook, Twitter,  YouTube, , and this blog which also appears on the on the home page of LANTA's website: These are additional avenues that customers can follow to find out the latest news and updates with their public transit system.  Staff is very diligent in answering all posts, as each one of our customers is important.

4. A series of How to Ride the Bus videos, which can be found on the Authority’s website and at You Tube, have been updated to give a more accurate and up-to-date overview of the system. Currently, there is a separate video which provides an introduction to riding public transit in the Lehigh Valley. The other videos highlight tips, suggestions, and rules for riders; explain people with disabilities accessing the service; a tutorial on how to read LANta bus schedule; and current fares.  In the works is a chapter on technology and how to access transit information 24/7.

With the technology that LANta is providing the community to access public transportation information, our ridership is being supported in various alternative ways. Also, it is imperative that the younger, technical generation be addressed, as they are the future riders of public transportation. Providing technical opportunities to access the bus will go a long way with them, and provide LANta with an increase in revenue.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Efficiencies in Transit - LANTA style

We are publishing a series or articles on the savings the Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority (LANTA) has achieved over the past few years.  These were originally published in a series of weekly newletters:

In today’s economy it’s all about making shrinking dollars go further and LANta is doing its best to keep costs down. Over the next few weeks, we intend to highlight various areas of LANta operations and focus on efforts to keep costs down.

Information technology (IT) is one of the major costs any business has today. Hodges Technology, Inc. (HTI) of Easton is LAnta’s subcontracted IT Department and one of their goals is to reduce the need for costly IT infrastructure investments. 

1. About 1 ½ years ago HTI looked into changing the data communications system from a T1 line to a dedicated high-speed fiber-optic system.  At that time LANTA was using two T1 circuits with a total of 3Mg /second bandwidth and LANta was paying close to $1,268 a month. RCN fiber-optic lines are now providing LANta 20Mg /second of dedicated bandwidth for $560 a month. Increasing the data communication performance by 677%, while at the same time saving LANta $700 a month is the kind of efficiency we strive to achieve

2. Systamec System Recovery is the industry standard for server backup and recovery. This software costs $600 per license. Due to the complexity of LANta’s server installation, it requires 19 licenses in order to fully protect in the event of a disaster. The backup software needs to be updated every three years. This works out to $316.67 per month, and does not include the costs of hardware replacement and maintenance. HTI estimates the hardware costs to be approximately $150 per year. Recently LANta has been migrated to a cloud-integrated Barracuda Backup Server with automatic redundant off-site replication. 
         The Barracuda Backup combines a plug-and-play appliance for onsite backups with cloud and private cloud disc-based replication to quickly and securely store data in multiple locations off-site. This service, with higher functionality and reliability, and lower maintenance overhead costs LANta $250 per month. This works out to nearly a $1000 savings per year.

3. HTI has proposed the consolidation of LANta’s current file and SQL Database servers down to a single Unified Commuting System (UCS) server. The UCS will take the place of two physical servers, as well as allow for low cost expansion.   The new UCS server will be able to provide resources for up to six virtual servers.  Another advantage of the UCS system is that this new file server will provide increased data security and protection against corruption, virus and malware damage, as compared to a Windows server based system. 

While all this is technical in nature, the bottom line is, it is an example of the continuing effort to improve LANta’s bottom line. Constantly evaluating its network and taking steps to reduce ongoing and capital costs will have a significant return on investment as funding becomes more and more constrained.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Minor Service Changes Feb 11

A number of small service adjustments are going into effect on Monday, February 11th.  These are detailed here.  These adjustments are routine changes resulting from passenger and driver information to make routes respond better to demand and changing conditions.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

When it snows

When snow and ice hits the streets, and eventually it will, driving may once again be treacherous. The Cities and PennDOT do a good job of getting out early and removing snow and treating ice, but inevitably at some point with a major, and sometimes with a minor, storm, driving gets tough.

People must get to work, school and to other events. Riding the bus may be a viable option instead of driving in inclement weather.

LANta buses and vans will, in most cases, be running to aid you in your travels. As with all vehicles in severe inclement weather conditions, they may be a moving slower than usual and changes will be necessary to the regular route or schedule, due to traffic and other obstructions.  LANta's buses can get through heavy snows.  Problems are usually a result of other vehicles on the road getting stuck or involved in accidents.  

Dispatch offices in Allentown and Easton, using the radio control system, keep bus operators informed of detours and schedule changes. With this information LANta operators will be able to maneuver the buses in the best way possible. 

A snow emergency is declared when weather conditions are such, that only main roads are passable. Most buses have “Snow Emergency” Brochures in take-one boxes on board, or you can call customer service and have one mailed to you or you can email and one will be sent to you.

Before you leave home to catch a bus, check the LANta website, and see what alerts are posted and whether the system is operating on Snow Emergency Routes.   In very rare instances, LANta may decide for safety sake, to take the the buses off the roads and we try to get word out early or well in advance of such service terminations.   There is a link to the Snow Emergency Route Guide for reference also.

If you do not have internet access or are unable to get on-line, call LANta’s customer service hotline at 610-776-RIDE (7433). This phone line is open Monday – Friday from 7:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. and Saturday mornings from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon. If the lines are very busy or we are not able to staff the telephones because of the weather, an automated attendant will inform you if LANta is running on a regular schedule or a snow emergency schedule.

Passengers can also listen for information on:

WFMZ-TV 69 News
WCTO-FM 96.1 Cat Country
WLEV-FM 100.7
WODE-FM 99.9 The Hawk

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

New Garage Upgrade Progresses

If you have been by the LANTA Allentown Offices off of Lehigh Street over the past three months you would have seen construction underway for LANta’s new state-of-the-art maintenance garage. This 18-month, $13 million project is being funded by grants received from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and PennDOT.  The modern facility will improve the efficiency, effectiveness and safety of the maintenance staff; reduce vehicle maintenance turnaround time and increase storage space for future and long-term goals of the LANta bus fleet. 

The excavation of the site was completed in September, 2012.  Before the end of November, Skepton Construction poured concrete footers and the steel was erected, giving the site the first sense of the footprint that the building will occupy. When interior block walls were put up and the concrete was poured the following month, the project really started to look like a garage. It is apparent that this 30,000 sq. ft. building will be much larger than the previous garage, almost three times larger. The eight maintenance bays are much higher, wider and longer to accommodate the new buses.

The weather has been in our favor and the building is under-roof, the goal is to have it completed before the end of December, 2012. If the good weather weather holds up, Skepton Construction will be able to install a rubber roof over the poured concrete roof and install the outside layer of block on the building. Also, skylights will be dropped in to give the mechanics natural light to work with.

“We are very close to being on schedule,” said Randy Flyte, Supervisor, Materials and Maintenance. “With the size of the project to be able to say this this far into the project is quite a feat. We ran into some issues during the excavation that delayed us, but fortunately, we were able to catch up.”

The next five months will be dedicated to the extensive interior work that must be completed for this state-of-the-art facility. This work will include the installation of lifts at the bays, the pouring of the concrete floor and all electrical, heating, ventilation, and plumbing work.  Along with these major installations, minor work for the comfort of all maintenance staff will be underway. This includes a lunch and break room, updated office facilities, a specialized shift Leader area, and new computers and other technology equipment. 

Advocates for Disabled Publish "Transportation Tips"

Understanding and effectively navigating the public transportation services offered in the Lehigh Valley is an essential part of being able to live independently for many people with disabilities in the area. The Partnership for a Disability Friendly Community, The Lehigh Valley Center for Independent Living, and LANTA have collaborated to create a list of “Transportation Tips” to help consumers have a more positive experience when riding LANtaVan.

Things to Remember:

LANtaVan’s service explained: LANtaVan is public transportation for people who need specialized service. It is a door-to-door, shared ride service - no one passenger has exclusive use of the vehicle. 

What is on time?  Federal Regulation states that trips are on time if the bus arrives 15 minutes before or 15 minutes after the scheduled time of your trip.  Example:  If your trip is scheduled for 2:15 p.m., your bus is not late if it arrives by before 2:30 p.m.

Trips are never prioritized: Example: Rides for medical care receive the same attention as rides to the hairdresser, mall, or grocery store.

LANtaVan is required to mirror the fixed route system  The area served by LANtaVan is large: more than 1,600 square miles!  Many trips across the Valley are very long even when taken by car or bus. As a measure of service quality, LANtaVan trip length standard is generally what it would take to get from an origin to a destination by regular bus - including transfers between buses - and the length of time to cover the distance from home to bus stop and from bus stop to the destination.  Generally, LANtaVan are within these criteria however, due to passenger loads and long distances between origins and destinations, riders may be on board vans for a good length of time.

If you feel your trip is unreasonably long or not logically scheduled, call 610-253-4055 and ask to speak with a supervisor to review the situation.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) did not create a separate transit system for people with disabilities. The ADA requires that people with disabilities have equal access to transportation services. Although LANtaVan provides door-to-door service, its service must be equivalent to the service of the fixed route system. Public transportation is useful, but is not the same as driving your own vehicle.

Things to Do:

Plan ahead! LANTA has a 30 minute window in which to pick someone up, so plan your trip times to account for the chance that you may be picked up 15 before your scheduled time or 15 minutes after your scheduled time.
Ask where you are going! Sometimes people schedule multiple trips a day and/or week. When you are called to confirm a pick up time, ask the dispatcher what destination you will be taken to. You do not want to be taken to the wrong location!

Read LANTA’s Riders Guide! Every LANtaVan customer is given a Riders Guide. Make sure you read and understand what it says. You can find the Riders Guide online at:

Information regarding eligibility requirements, riding rules, and services provided, is available at

LANTA Board Meeting, December, 2012

The LANta Board of Directors met on Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at the Authority offices in Allentown.  At this meeting much was discussed and committees requested various contract awards. The Authority approved the purchase of nine heavy-duty, hybrid buses for LANtaBus, the purchase of 15 para-transit vans for LANtaVan, the purchase of seven vans for Carbon County and awarded the IT services contract for all LANta facilities.

1.  The Chair of the Operations Committee started off the meeting by recommending that the Authority award the 2013 heavy-duty, hybrid bus purchase to Gillig Corporation LLC of Hayward CA. The purchase of these vehicles through Gillig Corporation LLC was awarded by the Pennsylvania State Bus Consortium in February 2011. In an effort for consistency and ease of ordering, this consortium of Pennsylvania transit agencies will all use the same vendor. LANta will be purchasing 5-35’ buses and 4-40’ buses and they will be delivered in spring of 2014. At an estimated cost of $600,000 for each bus, LANta has already acquired the funding for these vehicles. The buses were ordered on December 12, 2012, the day after the project was awarded.

2. The next order of business was the approval of the LANtaVan van acquisition for 2013. LANta will purchase 15 para-transit vans to replace current 2004 and 2005 vans that are in use by Easton Coach. These vans have a five-year life and each van puts on roughly 40,000 miles a year. Chevy 4500 series vans will be ordered, the same make and model as last year. They have the capacity to seat 12 passengers and accommodate two wheelchair spaces. The seats are all "flip" style so the van can handle up to six wheelchairs. 

This van purchase will be made utilizing the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of General Services (DGS) bid process for para-transit vehicles. The budget for this capital project is just over $1.2 million.

3. Next the Operations Committee recommended the Authority award the contract for a seven van purchase for Carbon County Community Transit (CCCT). The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has awarded Carbon County a "New Freedoms" fund grant in the amount of $339,580 for this purchase. These new vans will replace existing CCCT fleet vehicles.  This vehicle purchase will be completed utilizing the DGS bid purchase of para-transit vehicles. The contract for the vehicles is with Rohrer Bus Company of Duncannon PA at a total cost of just under $348,000.

4. Finally, the Operations Committee recommended that the Authority award the IT Service Contract for LANta to Hodges Technology Inc. of Easton PA. LANta has specialized computer systems in place for real time bus viewing, scheduling and entering and tracking records and data necessary for daily retrieval. Hodges is the current provider and they are very knowledgeable about the systems that are in place throughout LANta.  The contract is for three years with options to renew for an additional two years.