Westmoreland County Transit Authority takeover of paratransit services not smooth
By Rich Cholodofsky
Published: Sunday, Aug. 18, 2013, 10:36 p.m.
Six weeks after a takeover of transit services for elderly, low-income and handicapped riders, the Westmoreland County Transit Authority is still struggling to operate the program.
Potential riders still have long wait times to schedule rides, county transit officials said, but slowly the service is improving.
“All we can do is try to do better and, hopefully, we will clean it up,” authority board member Robert Seiler said last week.
The transit authority took over operation of countywide paratransit services on July 1. In doing so, the authority put a standardized rate structure in place. The price of some rides increased, while others decreased.
The transition has been anything but smooth. The first week of the service was marred by telephone line problems that caused potential passengers to be disconnected as they attempted to schedule rides.
“The transition has just been the pits. The whole thing has been really frustrating for everybody,” said Julia Martin, owner of Byers Taxi, the cab company that serves the authority program in the northern region of Westmoreland County.
The phone glitches have been resolved, authority Executive Director Larry Morris said, and the wait times for people scheduling rides has decreased. The average wait time on the phone was nine minutes in mid-July. Morris said that the time was cut to about six minutes by last week.
“No, I am not happy with it, but we're getting better every day,” Morris said.
The authority fields an average of about 400 calls a day to schedule rides. July and August ridership numbers for the paratransit system are not yet available, Morris said.
The county takeover of the system meant that riders have to call the authority to schedule trips rather than individual taxi companies that are contracted by the authority to provide the rides. Riders previously scheduled rides directly with the taxi companies.
Transit officials said the takeover of the system has been a huge undertaking.
The authority last week agreed to buy nearly $15,000 worth of office furniture to accommodate a call center that had to be set up to handle the increased volume of calls at its Greensburg headquarters. Six operators are on duty fielding calls weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Authority board members renamed the paratransit service Go Westmoreland, which will be used on advertising and other materials associated with the program.
Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- North Versailles, Murrysville families still waiting for report on 2011 chopper crash that killed couple
- Blaze damages Derry Twp. garage, apartment
- Police say Latrobe woman bought gun for boyfriend, who shot neighbor
- ‘We Are FR’ fund going strong
- Scottdale to reconsider use of complaint forms
- Hempfield Area superintendent, business manager quit
- Jailed Hribal ‘fine,’ but family ‘terrible’ as answers in stabbing sought
- St. Vincent student killed in ‘unfortunate accident’ in Erie
- Retired postal worker picks $1M winner
- Graziani hired away from Latrobe as Penn Township’s manager
- Murrysville woman sues Giant Eagle over burns