On-demand shuttle service for commuters who work in the vicinity of Robinson Town Centre may be in jeopardy because its federal funding source has been repealed.
Officials from the Airport Corridor Transportation Association, a nonprofit transportation association that promotes travel and economic growth in the airport corridor, are scrambling to find $700,000 before June 30 to save the program, which started in September 2009.
Lynn Manion, ACTA's executive director, said the association needs $750,000 just to keep the shuttles operating.
State Rep. Nick Kotik, D-Robinson, is so pleased with the shuttle program's success that he has jumped on the ACTA bandwagon.
"It's been a boon to employers, as well as the employees," he said.
"It's just a good program that faces an uncertain future."
Ms. Manion said the service has "opened up jobs to people who don't have cars."
The shuttles carry about 80,000 riders annually to 150 places of employment within about a one-mile radius of Robinson Town Centre, worksites in Robinson, North Fayette, Moon and Findlay.
Its stops include places such as Robinson Town Centre, The Pointe at North Fayette, Settlers Ridge, Community College of Allegheny County West, Penn Center West and RIDC Park West.
Riders request transfers when they board PAT buses 24 West Park, 28X Airport Flyer and 29 Robinson in Downtown and at other urban stops and ride those routes to the bus shelter in front of Ikea. They board shuttles at Ikea and ride them to their places of employment, using the transfer as their payment.
To schedule return pick-ups, riders call a toll-free number after they arrive at their destinations, or schedule them with bus drivers as they arrive at their workplace.
The service, which operates from 6:30 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. on weekdays, with shorter hours on the weekends, has made the difference between working and not working for many people, the majority of whom have entry-level positions, she said.
Ms. Manion also said 67 percent of riders are at or below the poverty level. Routes are not fixed and change according to the day's ridership.
"We have testimonials from people who spend 2 1/2 hours to travel to work," Ms. Manion said.
She suggested ACTA shuttle supporters call or email the association to voice their support, as well as contact their state legislators and the governor.
The association, which was organized in 1990, soon will start an infrastructure project with the Department of Transportation and Ikea to relocate the bus shelter to accommodate the installation of bike racks and a bike work station. The development of a bike map of the airport area also is planned, Ms. Manion said.
ACTA's membership includes airport corridor employers such as such as Bayer Corp., Ikea, Michael Baker Corp., K&L Gates, Mackin Engineering, FedEx Ground, The Mall at Robinson, Moon and the Beaver County Transit Authority.
Carole Gilbert Brown, freelance writer: email@example.com