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WCTA approves phone system purchase

| Thursday, May 10, 2012, 9:19 a.m.

The Westmoreland County Transit Authority took a step toward modernity Thursday night with a 4-1 vote to purchase a new telephone system.

"We've outlived this phone system," said Executive Director Larry Morris, referring to the current system that has been in place for 10 years.

He cited complaints he heard about the phones "always being busy" when people call to arrange transportation to medical appointments. Morris also said the authority needs technology that allows them to stack calls and have automated messages.

The new system, from Prime Communications Inc., will cost $21,050. Consultant Jim Grossman from Total Telecom Solutions said the software-based system is extremely versatile.

"As far as you are concerned, the upgrade ability is unlimited," Grossman said.

The new system will have a sophisticated call stacking feature that can allow one employee to handle multiple calls. It also can automatically record calls for safety and quality control purposes.

It uses 17 copper lines as opposed to the old system's 20, which Grossman said will save money.

Treasurer Harry E. Smith, the lone dissenting voice, raised doubts about the system's ability to integrate with the radios used on buses. He argued that the authority should hold off on the vote until hearing from a radio consultant.

Grossman said the system could easily integrate with cell phones, but the only thing on the market that can integrate with radios costs $1.5 million.

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