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Mon Valley transit merger decision might come next month

| Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, 12:06 a.m.
This Mid Mon Valley Transit Authority bus travels down Donner Avenue in Monessen on Tuesday, July 15, 2014.
Jim Ference | The Valley Independent
This Mid Mon Valley Transit Authority bus travels down Donner Avenue in Monessen on Tuesday, July 15, 2014.

The future of transit services in the Mon Valley and throughout Washington County likely will be decided in the next month.

The Middle Monongahela Transit Authority provides services for 21 Valley municipalities. It has been studying a possible merger with Washington County Transportation – also known as Washington County Rides – and the City of Washington Transit Authority.

The MMVTA board will discuss a possible merger in a closed-door meeting this week.

By the end of September, each transit agency is expected to vote on consolidation. The MMVTA board could vote either at its Aug. 28 or Sept. 25 public meetings.

“I really can't tell which way the board's going,” said Marc Roncone, MMVTA executive director.

“They have to make that decision. The meeting this week is the last time prior to an official action for them to hash out any concerns or issues.

“After that meeting, I should have a good feeling about how they plan to vote.”

Before the merger could occur, several details would have to be worked out. Near the top of the list would be the size and make-up of a new board.

The MMVTA board comprises 21 members, one from each of the municipalities it serves. The board of a consolidated agency would be more compact.

“A lot of the folks on my board have been here since the beginning, so it's going to be hard to have that discussion,” Roncone said. “But at the end of the day, it's for the betterment of the agencies.”

A name has not been selected for a merged agency. And the assets of the three agencies would have to be redistributed.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation paid for consultants to help the three agencies become one. Roncone said the benefits to riders of a merged agency are three-pronged: sustain current operations with minimal impact to riders, expand fixed-route service in Valley and across the county and the formation of one agency that plans all services.

“The goal is to keep as much service on the road as now and, in short term, to add additional fixed-route service,” Roncone said.

“We'd be looking to expand services in the future. If we come as one entity, we'd be look to expand fixed-route service.”

If a merger is approved, the first goal would be to consolidate administration by spring.

From there, a more-defined timetable would be set for the public to learn about branding on buses.

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or cbuckley@tribweb.com.

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