There may not be subways rumbling underground or buses stopping at every block, but public transit has been available in Potter County for nearly 45 years through the Area Transportation Authority of North Central Pennsylvania (ATA).
“It’s always been my belief that people may not know these services are available,” said County Commissioner Paul Heimel, who shared such concerns when U.S. Senator Bob Casey visited Potter County on Aug. 26.
Casey told commissioners that Pennsylvania is slated to receive $2.8 billion to enhance public transportation options through the federal Infrastructure and Jobs Act, which is expected to pump $550 billion into America’s roads, bridges, internet systems and more over five years. It’s not yet known how much each county may receive or the application process to receive funding.
Heimel said the public transportation already available in Potter County is underutilized but necessary for such a rural area, especially for senior citizens and those needing to get to medical appointments.
John Lacny, ATA director of marketing and communications, said while ATA doesn’t operate fixed route in Potter, their Call-A-Bus service will take riders just about anywhere.
“ATA was truly a pioneer in rural transportation,” said Lacny. “The commissioners of six counties got together in 1976 and said, ‘We need to have a regional rural transportation authority.’ So, they issued a charter for a public transit authority, one of the first in the U.S. Now, there are hundreds of them across the country.”
ATA operates in a six counties — Cameron, Clearfield, Elk, Jefferson, McKean and Potter — and splits its service areas into zones. Fares are $3.50 for the first zone and $1 for each additional zone stopped in or traveled through. Trips must be pre-arranged through ATA’s Mobility Management Call Center and riders can schedule one or multiple trips at a time.
Youth riders under age 12 get a 50% discount and qualified senior citizens age 65 and older who register with ATA get an 85% discount, which is subsidized by the Pennsylvania lottery program.
To register, call 1-866-ATA 4 YOU (1-866-282-4968) or to request a ride, call 1-866-RIDE ATA (1-866-743-3282).
Potter County schedule
Coudersport — Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Galeton — Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Shinglehouse — Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 9-11 a.m. and 1-2:30 p.m.
Ulysses — Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 9-11:30 a.m. and 1-3 p.m. Also every second Thursday of the month, departing from the Ulysses Senior Center at 9 a.m. to Walmart and Kmart in Olean, N.Y., arriving back in Ulysses at 3 p.m.
For area scheduling, see www.rideata.com or download the mySTOP phone app.