Thursday, February 27, 2014

83 Buses...9 Of Them New

You may have seen more LANta diesel hybrid electric buses on the roads of the Lehigh Valley since Monday, February 24, 2014. Of the 83 buses in LANta’s bus fleet, twenty-four (24) are now the newer, lower emissions, diesel hybrid electric buses.  Each hybrid bus stands out from the non-hybrid, diesel buses with a raised area towards the rear of the roof. This houses the batteries, the control module for the hybrid propulsion system and cooling fans for the system.
These new buses were purchased through the Pennsylvania State Consortium program that was led by Red Rose Transit Authority (RRTA) in Lancaster. RRTA led a group of 17 transit agencies from across Pennsylvania to collect bids for the purchase of 200 buses over a multi-year period. By entering into a joint purchase, the transit agencies involved were able to obtain more competitive pricing.  So far, LANta has purchased 19 buses through the program and plans additional purchases based on available funding.  The cost of a diesel hybrid electric bus is just under $600,000, where the cost of a standard diesel bus is just under $400,000. However, this price difference is recouped over the first 9 years due to the hybrid vehicles getting over a 50% fuel efficiency compared to standard diesel buses. LANta anticipates using each bus for 13 to 15 years.

The buses were purchased from Gillig Corporation in California.  Five of the new buses are 35’ in length and four are 40’.  The 2014 buses are very similar to the 2012 hybrid buses except for a few upgrades; there is a new and updated hydraulic system along with updated passenger straps for the wheelchair stations. After the buses come off the factory line, each is driven from California to our site in Allentown. Roughly 3,000 miles are on the bus when it arrives. This lengthy drive is a good test to make sure systems are running properly.  The long drive also provides a good “break-in” for the vehicle.

When the buses first arrive it is necessary to install additional equipment needed for revenue service.  A week is spent on each bus installing the farebox, two-way radio and the Automated Transit Management System (ATMS).

As noted above, LANTA has experienced a 50% fuel efficiency gain with these vehicles over the standard diesel powered buses in the fleet.  Based on this experience and LANTA’s current usage in terms of miles per bus, it is anticipated that using diesel hybrid electric buses results in a reduction of approximately 2,780 gallons of diesel fuel needed to operate each LANTA bus annually.  It is estimated that the use of these buses will benefit air quality in the region by reducing NOx, a component of ozone, by -1.9350 kg/day per bus.

These nine new diesel hybrid electric buses will replace 1998 New Flyer buses which have been in service for 16 years.  On Monday, February 24, four of the new buses were put into service, Tuesday, February 25 two more were entered into service and it is expected that by Friday, February 28, all will be in service.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Honoring Rosa Parks Commendable

A letter to the editor, as seen in The Morning Call on-line on Thursday, February 6, 2014.

I was moved to tears when I saw the photo of one of the bus seats being dedicated to the memory of Rosa Parks. Rochell Figueroa, a bus driver, is to be commended for her suggestion and the entire Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority board applauded for its decision.

My family is blessed with vehicles and therefore does not rely on public transportation, but I will be taking my children for a ride on a LANta bus to honor Parks and discuss with them her heroism.

Chris Zweifel


As Black History month begins, the Allentown Chapter of the NAACP,   the Liberty Bell Museum of Allentown and the LANTA Authority Board of Directors have joined forces to honor Rosa Parks in a very special way on the 101st anniversary of her birth. LANTA has designated a “Rosa Parks seat” on each of the 86 buses in its fleet at a dedication ceremony held earlier today, Tuesday, February 4 at the LANta terminal at 1:00 p.m. Then officers, employees and dignitaries “rode with Rosa” to the Liberty Bell Museum in Allentown for the reception opening the museum’s winter exhibit, “From the Bell to the Bus and Beyond: Rosa Parks.”

On each LANta bus above the seat bearing a plaque, an explanatory placard features Rosa Parks’ picture and a note stating “The seat located below this sign is dedicated to the memory of Rosa Parks. Her refusal to move from a bus seat in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955 sparked a bus boycott and helped usher in the civil rights movement, changing public transportation and American society. As you sit here, remember her.”

The Liberty Bell Museum exhibit traces the civil rights movement back through time to the civil war, when abolitionists first began to call the iconic bell, the Liberty bell. Moving forward in time, the exhibit shows how, following the abolition of slavery, the development of Jim Crow laws necessitated the modern civil rights movement. Rosa Parks’s story emerges from this background, then raises questions about the issue of racial justice today.

The museum exhibit also features an actual seat from a LANta bus where you can sit and ponder Rosa Parks’ action, then think about contemporary issues. There also is a section about Martin Luther King, Jr. as well as the relationship between the Liberty Bell and the Bible.  The exhibit will run through May.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Few Good Men

LANta would like to recognize two dedicated and longtime employees who are retiring from the Authority.

Denis J. Meyers, LANta Assistant Executive Director:  7.1.1975 –  1.31.2014

Denis J. Meyers, Assistant Executive Director, Development for the Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority (LANTA), Allentown, PA is retiring after 38 ½ years.  Meyers joined the Authority in July, 1975 as Director of Marking. 

Over the years, he advanced in responsibilities and held positions as Director of Special Projects and Director of Development before being appointed Assistant Executive Director in 1990. 

During his tenure, he contributed in a variety of levels within the LANTA organization including: marketing, public relations and advertising, planning, government relations, grants, project development and management, labor negotiations, paratransit contract management, human resources and training.

Meyers graduated in 1970 from DeSales University with a bachelor of arts in English Literature, an area of study that prepared him well for work in the transit industry with its challenges of Shakespearian proportions.

Meyers is married to Michele B. Meyers and they have three grown sons: Joshua, Christopher and Alexander.

 Mike Lopsonzski, LANta Director or Maintenance and Material:  1.1.1979 – 2.28.2014

Mike Lopsonzski, Director of Maintenance and Materials, is retiring from the ranks of LANta after a 35 years career.

After graduating from Penn State University he spent several years employed in the Planning Department of the City of Allentown before he joined LANta in 1979 as an assistant in the Development Department. In this department Mike was assigned to the preparation of grant applications but it became apparent that his real affinity and forte’ was for the “hardware” of the organization: the city transit fleet.

Mike soon was demonstrating not only his abilities to understand the mechanics of the fleet vehicles, but in understanding the mechanics: literally! During a re-organization of staff a new position of Parts and Information Manager was a perfect fit for Mike. 

Mike was named to the senior management as Director of Materials and Maintenance in 1998.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce...Community Development Award

        For more than forty years Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority (LANta) has been an engine for community and economic development throughout the greater Lehigh Valley region. As our demographic, business and residential patterns shifted so did LANta’s response in providing bus service. Today LANta serves some five million riders a year. More than 50% of those trips are taken by people going to and from their jobs. Riders and their employers know the important role LANta plays, through its LANtaBus fixed-route division, in the economic vitality of the valley.

        LANta’s leading role in the development of centralized transportation centers is appreciated by riders as well as business and municipal leaders. With the completion later this year of the Easton Intermodal Transportation Center on Third Street, LANta will have major modern transfer centers in all three cities: at Sixth and Linden Streets in Allentown as well as Broad and Guetter Streets in Bethlehem. Lehigh Valley Mall also serves as an important hub for the transit system.

        In addition, LANta provides leadership as we move to a more transit, bicycle and pedestrian-friendly smart growth paradigm. And through its LANtaBus paratransit division, LANta has been a pioneer since the 1970s in providing specialized, door-to-door transportation at a low cost for the elderly and people with disabilities.

       While keeping their eye on its mission to provide safe and reliable transit service LANta has committed to helping the community’s environment with the addition of hybrid-electric buses. Given the millions of miles driven LANta’s slogan on those buses, ‘A Greener Lehigh Valley…One Mile at a Time’, may be a bit modest.

       For decades the people of LANta including bus drivers, maintenance personnel and administrative staff, have been a very important part of LANta’s commitment to the development of our great community. Hundreds have participated in United Way campaigns, blood drives, as well as food, clothing and toy drives for the less fortunate among us. And LANta is always at the ready when local emergencies strike.

      As the Lehigh Valley continues to grow we can be assured that LANta will to play a vital role in our economic development.