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.
"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.