Rabbittransit expands into Columbia County
Rabbittransit, the transportation authority based in York County, added a fifth county to its territory on Jan. 1, when it became the shared ride coordinator for rural Columbia County, Pa.
It now serves York, Adams, Northumberland, Cumberland and Columbia counties. The latter has only a curb-to-curb shared ride service — not fixed-route service — because its population is too spread-out to support regular buses, said Rabbittransit Executive Director Richard Farr.
Rabbittransit's latest expansion was accompanied by a name change: the authority, formerly called the York Adams Transportation Authority (YATA), is now called the Central Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (CPTA). It will still go by Rabbittransit in all five counties it serves, Farr said.
Regionalization: In 2011, Farr said, Adams and Northumberland counties asked to join Rabbittransit.
Cumberland was the fourth county to join the authority, in July 2015.
The conversation about expanding Pennsylvania's transportation authorities began in 2008 when PennDOT conducted a statewide study on public transportation, Farr said. The study showed that significant savings could be had from regionalization because of reduced administrative costs, he said.
Reduced costs make authorities more sustainable, Farr said. "With government-supported services, there's always more of a need than the ability to provide," he said. "By combining, we're extending our ability to meet those needs."
It also makes sense because of the nature of transportation — people often need to go outside the bounds of the county they live in, he said.
Transportation authorities have "historically provided transportation only within their counties," Farr said. Rabbittransit takes riders into all the counties that adjoin the ones it serves, he said.
For example, a York County resident might need special treatment at Lancaster General Hospital. Through its curb-to-curb shared-ride service, Rabbittransit can oblige.
Rabbittransit will continue to be based in York, reducing staff in the other counties to avoid the duplication of services mainly through attrition, Farr said. Staff who supervise drivers and assess communities' needs will stay on in the authority's satellite locations.
The authority will increase its administrative staff here in York only a bit, to meet increased demands on its call center and human resources departments, he said.
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