WILKES-BARRE — Would a public transportation mega-merger be a good thing?
PennDOT says it’s starting a study on the possible consolidation of bus, plane, and future train travel in Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties.
A letter from the state secretary of transportation spells out the proposal.
PennDOT is working to figure out how much money could be saved and what new services would be possible if Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties merged public transit.
During the summer months, the intermodal center in downtown Wilkes-Barre is loud and full of people who say they need the bus but it’s not always convenient or comfortable.
“No, it isn’t, believe me. It’s not. You’re tired and it takes hours to get there,” said Joe Paraschak of Wilkes-Barre.
Paraschack and his wife Mary Alice say they’re frequent riders on Luzerne County Transportation Authority buses.
Now, state officials say they’re going to study the feasibility of merging public transportation in Luzerne County with mass transit in Lackawanna County. That would include COLTS buses and even the operations at the Wilkes-Barre /Scranton International Airport.
PennDOT says a previous study in 2010 showed that a regional transportation authority could save $1.7 million a year.
Transportation officials say a merger might make it easier to have a passenger rail line return from New York and New Jersey into Scranton.
“I think it’s a good idea because it’s going to help a lot of people with their commute to work and I think it’ll be cheaper and help people see their families more,” said Harmony Weber of Wilkes-Barre.
Some people in Wilkes-Barre think more bus and rail service to bigger cities could bring in trouble.
But the owner of Oz’s Pizza near the intermodal center says she needs all the business she can get in the summer when college students are away.
“Nice to have more traffic, more people, more shopping. It would keep downtown more alive,” said Filiz Bringham.
Earlier this month, we told you about PennDOT’s other study of adding two interchanges on Interstate81 to turn the Pennsylvania Turnpike into a beltway around Scranton. That idea and this public transit merger are both proposals and years away from reality.