WILKES-BARRE – A copy of a letter obtained by Newswatch 16 shows that state investigators believe that the Luzerne County Transportation Authority purposely inflated senior citizen ridership numbers.
The letter, provided by a Luzerne County official, says that consultants for PennDOT believe that the LCTA inflated the number of senior citizens on buses between 2005 and 2011.
“To administratively collect this overpayment, the… payments to LCTA for January through June 2014… will not be made, and we will withhold the remaining $155,859 from the July 2014 payment,” the letter said.
PennDOT is withholding more than $2.6M in funding from LCTA.
The letter does not indicate if administrators or bus drivers are suspected of inflating the numbers, or if any criminal charges will be considered in this investigation.
Figures in the letter show that the LCTA doubled and tripled the reported numbers of senior citizens who received free rides on public buses in Luzerne County.
A PennDOT spokesman in Harrisburg told Newswatch 16 by phone that he cannot comment on the letter.
When Newswatch 16 went to the LCTA Headquarters in Kingston, workers said that Executive Director Stanley Strellish had gone home for the day.