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$7.7 million budget keeps rates in check for bus riders

| Friday, May 4, 2012, 8:39 a.m.

The Westmoreland County Transit Authority passed a $7.7 million budget on Thursday for the 2006-07 fiscal year that calls for no fare increases.

"Generally, I think we're in pretty good shape," Assistant Director Alan Blahovec told the authority's board of directors yesterday.

The budget is roughly $1.4 million larger than the 2005-06 spending plant. Blahovec said the cost of serving riders who qualify for state Medical Assistance grew by almost $1 million, but the money is covered by the state Department of Public Welfare.

Authority Executive Director Larry Morris reported a ridership increase of 28 percent in May, the latest growth in a trend that's continued for months. Marketing Director Lori Brkovich said the commuter routes to Pittsburgh have become so popular that she is discontinuing mass media advertising, saying it's no longer worth the money.

Morris told the board that he's arranging for extra buses to help pick up passengers on the crowded Pittsburgh routes.

"We have people standing, and we just can't do that on a ride that's an hour long," Morris said. "Buses are full. You don't want to have empty buses, but they're almost too full."

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