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 customerservice@lantabus.com and one will be sent to you.

Before you leave home to catch a bus, check the LANta website, www.lantabus.com 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: http://www.lantabus.com/lantavanridersguide.html

Information regarding eligibility requirements, riding rules, and services provided, is available at www.lantabus.com/lantaplus.html

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.