After Veterans Day, servicemembers former and current in the city will be getting around town.
Following the regular Cambria County Transit Authority board meeting Friday morning, the authority announced a new initiative allowing veterans and active military to ride buses and the Inclined Plane for free.
Beginning Nov. 11, anyone in uniform or presenting a military ID will pay no fare on any of the 21 fixed bus routes that service all of Cambria County.
“Pretty much, you can go anywhere in the county on a fixed route bus,” said Rose Lucey-Noll, executive director.
CamTran officials said it’s all about providing a convenience to those who’ve devoted themselves to keeping the country safe - a gesture of thanks.
“Many of these (elderly) veterans gotta’ get out to their appointments at (Veterans Affairs hospitals) and other medical facilities and this will allow them to do that at reduced cost,” said Tom Caulfield with the Veterans Leadership Program, which assists veterans with job placement.
“This will be a vehicle to provide many of these veterans the necessary transportation mode to get to their jobs and get to other worthy causes,” he said.
“Most of the older veterans are on fixed incomes and that could certainly be an asset - not having to pay transportation costs, which, as we all know, keep mounting and mounting.”
Board Chairman Ed Cernic Jr. said Josh Yoder, marketing director, will be attending job fairs hosted by the Veterans Leadership Program, educating people on how to use the system.
“We hope our ridership triples,” he said. “It doesn’t cost us a lot of money to allow these veterans to ride for free. There is a little delay and if we have some routes and some stops where we’re going to be getting more riders, we’re going to have to adjust the schedule.
“We constantly look at runs, we constantly look at how the demographics change, of how the businesses change, of how ridership changes on runs,” he said. “If we need to tweak that a little bit to add another run or move another route, we do that on somewhat of a routine basis.”
Caulfield said one of the first issues that will be tackled by a committee his organization has formed will be hammering out rural service routes and extending service to those veterans living out of town.
Currently, rates are at $1.50 for urban transit, 30 cents for a connection and as much as $2.25 for a rural route from Johnstown to Ebensburg.
Justin Dennis is a multimedia reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/JustinDennis.