PHIA News Digest – Vol. 8

January 26, 2015

PHIA_LOGOPennDOT to study creating Northeast Pennsylvania transit authority
Northeast Pennsylvania public transit riders may eventually take buses directly between Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, rather than having to transfer to a different bus in Pittston to make the trip.

Lackawanna and Luzerne County officials envision new travel options — like a direct bus link between the cities — among many benefits of merging several mass transit agencies in both counties into a single Lackawanna-Luzerne Regional Transportation Authority.

Pennsylvania’s Act 89: A Year of Economy-Building Road Work
Pennsylvania has been the poster child for deteriorating U.S. transportation infrastructure, but many states now consider emulating its Act 89 — year-old legislation that is addressing Pennsylvania road and bridge woes.

Act 89 went into effect on January 1, 2014. It is a user fee increase expected to add $2.3 to $2.4 billion to infrastructure revenue annually by its fifth year. The legislation kept vehicle registration and license fees low and rolled the flat gas tax of 12 cents that had been charged at the pump into the Oil Company Franchise Tax (OCFT) charged at wholesale. It removed the artificial cap on the OCFT over the course of five years.

Trucking Company Plans CNG Station in Pennsylvania
Iowa-based W.W. Transport, through its Great River Energy LLC subsidiary, has proposed to install a compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station in Pennsylvania.

According to a report from The Morning Call, W.W. Transport says the station would help the company convert 30 of its vehicles servicing a local flour mill to CNG. The transportation services firm, which won a grant from the Pennsylvania government, wants to build the facility in Lower Mount Bethel Township in order to fuel its own trucks, as well as to offer CNG to the public.

Pennsylvania driving laws rated middle of road
Pennsylvania has improved its highway safety laws over the past five years but still falls short of the recommendations of a national safety advocacy organization.

In a report issued today, Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety gave the state a middling grade, saying it has eight of 15 recommended laws in place. That’s an improvement from 2010, when Pennsylvania was one of nine states found to be “dangerously behind” in enacting safety laws.

Our Opinion: Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s bus, air and rail services best seen as a single transportation network
A single bus system serving both the Wilkes-Barre and Scranton areas – and bridging the county divide that historically has posed a mountainous psychological barrier to some residents – sure sounds good to us.

In fact, it strikes a harmonious tone not unlike the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic, which for nearly 45 years has stood as perhaps the area’s finest example of cross-border cooperation. Rival orchestra conductors in the two cities buried the baton in the early 1970s and supported a single, professional group.

It’s first down, Congressional Republicans, now pass a highway bill: Robert Latham
Among transportation advocates, there has been lots of rumination lately about whether Congress will pass a long-term funding solution to address the Highway Trust Fund deficit or “punt on first down,” opting yet again for some type of smoke-and-mirrors funding to get past the next deadline.

Given that we’re in the football playoff season, the analogy was irresistible, but it’s on point: winning takes teamwork, cooperation and – to borrow a phrase from Lou Holtz – a commitment to “do right.”


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