RRTA to operate Berks transit authority

David Kilmer

It is the state’s largest transit merger, and it is now official.

Lancaster County officials and Red Red Rose Transit Authority leaders took a little trip just over the Berks County line Thursday morning to meet with their Berks counterparts — and celebrate a transit consolidation nearly a year in the making.

They have established the new South Central Transit Authority to oversee both the Lancaster-area RRTA and the Berks Area Regional Transit Authority.

The RRTA name and logo on buses, as with BARTA in Berks, will not change, and the public may not notice much of a difference, transit official David Kilmer said Thursday,

“We’re on a good track, and ready to move forward,” said Kilmer, who was named executive director of the new SCTA, which will oversee operations of both RRTA and BARTA.

The consolidation is to save the two counties nearly $4.8 million over the next five years, a larger figure than had been discussed previously.

“Most of the credit needs to go to the two boards” of RRTA and BARTA, said Kilmer, who until recently was RRTA executive director and BARTA’s acting executive director.

Discussions to consolidate had taken place through most of 2014, and the merger needed the approval of the two counties’ boards of commissioners, the state Transportation Department and the Federal Transit Administration.

Six staff positions were eliminated in the merger, but much of the savings will be in local matching funds, officials said.

Over five years, Berks County will save $2,804,169 and Lancaster County will save $1,726,081, or around $345,000 a year.

After five years, the counties will evenly split the local match of $780,820, lower than the $996,546 total local match that would have been required without the consolidation.

Because of the cost savings, the overseeing SCTA also is considering adding Sunday service in Berks County and extending service to Route 41 in the Gap area, to reach the newly expanded Urban Outfitters and the Gap Area Shopping Center.

As a result of limited financial resources, transit agencies are required to explore more innovative ways of conducting business without the loss of critical services, transit officials also said.

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