Could Passenger Rail Connect Scranton and Wilkes-Barre?

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LACKAWANNA COUNTY -- The transit authorities in both Lackawanna and Luzerne counties have each seen their fair share of controversy over the past few years.  COLTS and the LCTA met with PennDOT and county leaders Tuesday about consolidating the bus systems. They also met about a new form of transportation between the two counties.

Spend some time on Wyoming Avenue in Scranton, the COLTS bus hub, and you'll hear a lot of people saying the public transportation system needs to change.

"The higher influx of people who come into your town, you have to accommodate the amount of people. You know, not everyone is blessed with a car," said Charmaigne Santiago of Scranton.

Santiago relies on COLTS to get home from work every day, but she wishes there were more routes to better fit her schedule.

Officials from COLTS, the Luzerne County Transit Authority, Hazleton Transit Authority, and politicians from both counties met to talk about making the area more friendly to public transportation and possibly connecting the counties with passenger rail service.

"We need a feasibility study first. Once we have a feasibility study, we can turn around and look at merging all systems of transportation in Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties and possibly even more counties to form a regional approach, making us the third largest in the state and allowing for better service for our residents," said Lackawanna County Commissioner Jim Wansacz.

Crews are currently working on the new Scranton Intermodal Center on Lackawanna Avenue in Scranton. It is eventually where COLTS buses will pick up passengers, but it`s also designed for trains.

With the intermodal center project already off the ground, leaders think rail service between Scranton and Wilkes-Barre could work.

"If you`ve driven on 81 at rush hour, or construction season which seems to last 11 months of the year, you can appreciate the benefit of getting cars off of that stretch of road," said Luzerne County Manager Robert Lawton.

Some people who already use public transportation also think adding passenger rail service could work. At the very least though, they say people need more options.

"I don`t think it would hurt to give it a try, to accommodate the people. Because there are people, nice workers, that take the bus and they all say the same thing: the hours and the times are very bad for the working people," said Cathy Wehner of Scranton.

Passenger rail service between Lackawanna county and Luzerne county is still a long way into the future. PennDOT first has to complete that feasibility study, that could take the rest of this year.

12 comments

  • Robert Staely

    Another FEASIBILITY STUDY, just do it. Lets waste more tax payer money on a stupid study. If you build it, they will come and ride it.

  • Flash

    Better to look at the associated costs such as acquiring the right-of-way, construction costs, costs to procure the passenger cars, how much will the power cost to run the trains, etc. Talk to cities that already have a similar service such as Pittsburgh, PA or Charlotte, NC to help determine if it’s really worthwhile to spend public money on a this type of project. Taxpayers are ultimately going to be picking up the tab.

  • Solomon Grundy

    Sure…this is a great idea…We will call it the Opioid Express….It can become a great pipeline for drug trafficking between the two cities….We can have a designated train car just for drug deals and transactions…this sounds like a great plan for the area!!! Im all for it…I want to be the engineer or the conductor.

  • Riverfront_Sage

    Bring it on! Let the trains roll between the towns with a few strategic stops in between. Perhaps light rail? It worked previously, it can work again and would strengthen the connections between our cities like very little else. The key to our long term success depends on a more unified voice as a region, so let’s get to work becoming one!
    As long as we are changing things involving public transit, the next fleet of buses needs to be the smaller, more efficient variety as well as sending buses to where people actually want to go, running them a bit later and perhaps more frequently than COLTS currently does. Affordable parking at each station would also encourage ridership! If I have to pay too much for parking at the station, i might as well drive to and from since I’ll pay there as well.
    It is a good idea and we need more of them!
    Anyone else got “Constructive” ideas to make this even better? Haters need not comment, Sorry

  • annex

    Oh yes….right out of Sherman Hills and take the train up to Scranton for some new blood and customers. Really smart. There is no benefit to this other than more visits from riff raff from WB to Scranton. Eh, whatever.

  • Frank Rizzo

    What a dumb idea. How are the people supposed to get to where they want to go after they get off the train? This isn’t exactly a dense walk-able area like in a big city.

    • HENRY ROWENGARTNER

      Umm…. you have to walk when you get off of the bus as well. They should have had the passager cars going years ago!!

  • John walsh

    We can use the private sector, I TN America, which provides free service, give a ride get a ride. People earn credits toward rides, in over 30 cities so far and growing. Forget politicians solutions, just more money wasted, the bus service is great between Wilkes Barre and Scranton, just help expand the private sector, quite simple. Don’t make things harder then it has to be, a little commonsense, please.

    • Cat

      Looks like they’ve been hearing about the potential scam going on out in CA, where they’re trying to get as many people off the roads as possible all in the name of money-making monster, Global Warming. As for being a waste of money – no, no….they need to spend every penny of taxpayer money on things we don’t need. I wonder if they’ll give me $500,000 to make a film about it after it’s up and running?

  • Steve Grumman

    They might simply revive the existing rail lines between the counties, the ones they so quickly allowed to give up passenger services some years ago…

Comments are closed.

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