Mon valley transit to add bike racks to all buses, install park-and-ride lots

By next summer, it will be possible to take a bicycle to Pittsburgh while riding on a transit bus.

That goal is a part of the Mid-Mon Valley Transit Authority’s environmentally sound mission.

The transit authority received notice late last week that it has been approved for a $70,000 Federal Highway Administration Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant.

The grant will fully fund installation of bicycle racks on the front of the MMVTA’s buses. Currently, one bus, used on the Valley 2 Route connecting valley communities with California University of Pennsylvania, has a bicycle rack attached. But that is the lone such bus among a fleet of 29 vehicles, and it is due for replacement soon, said Nancy Basile, transit authority manager of finance and grant programs.

The authority is expected to receive the funding sometime after the 2017 federal fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

Basile said the transit authority has recently received an increasing number of calls from Mon Valley bike riders who wanted to know if the authority had plans to equip buses with bike ramps.

Then, at a Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission meeting, the transit authority learned money was available.

In addition to the bike racks, the transit authority plans to install park-and-ride lot areas for securing bikes. Additionally, there are plans to update system apps where riders can learn where bikers can park their bikes and ride the bus.

“In the summer, you could bike to a park-and-ride or take the bike on the bus and do something downtown after work,” Basile said. “We have targeted congestion mitigation.”

Earlier this year, the transit authority purchased eight compressed natural-gas buses to replace four, 40-foot commuter buses which service the Mon Valley to Pittsburgh routes and four, 35-foot local service buses. The buses were purchased from Gillig LLC, a California-based manufacturer, which has delivered buses to the authority in the past. The eight buses cost roughly $3.2 million.

“We’ve been trying these past few years to incorporate green and clean,” Basile said. “This seemed like a logical step. We’re further ahead with green and clean than a lot of agencies.”

By Christopher Buckley

Herald Standard



New Mid Mon Valley Transit buses run on Natural Gas

Running on natural gas

The Mid Mon Valley Transit Authoriuty purchased eight new buses that will run on natural gas.

When eight new “green” transit buses hit the road today, they were nearly five years in the works.

The vehicles operate on compressed natural gas.

The Mid Mon Valley Transit Authority was among several authorities which piggybacked on to a mass bid started by Red Rose, a Lancaster-based transit authority, said Donna Weckoski, executive director of the MMVTA.

The buses were finally ordered mid-2014.

The eight CNG buses replace four, 40-foot commuter buses which service the Valley to Pittsburgh routes, and four, 35-foot local service buses. The buses were purchased from Gillig LLC, a California-based manufacturer, which has delivered buses to the authority in the past.

The eight buses cost roughly $3.2 million.

Every vehicle in the fleet is handicapped accessible, including a hydraulic lift ramp.

“We eliminated the back door for more seating,” Weckoski said.

The 35-foot buses seat 37 and the 40-foot vehicles seat 39.

Each is a “kneeling” bus, meaning the stairs at the front door lower to street level for easy access.

The buses were purchased with 80 percent federal funding and 16.66 percent in state grants, Weckoski said. The bulk of the local funding came from Westmoreland County.

The CNG-run buses is a sign of the federal government’s move toward more environmentally sound “green” vehicles. Weckoski said

In addition, the transit authority is eligible to receive a $125,000 federal Clean Air green grant.

A mule carrying compressed natural gas was also delivered to the transit authority’s Donora maintenance facility from Alexandria, Virginia.

Weckoski said the authority hopes to tap into a Peoples Natural Gas CNG pipeline in the Donora Industrial Park by mid-February. In the meantime, compressed natural gas will be delivered from Bentleyville.

Each bus was installed with six fuels which store CNG. Because the fuel is compressed at several thousand pounds, the CNG-fueled buses can run all day on it, rather than requiring refueling every one to two hours like traditionally fueled vehicles.

“Natural gas has been used in home heating for decades,” said Chuck Parham, operations safety manager. “It’s a sustainable source of energy.”

The transit authority operates a fleet of 30 buses.

The buses typically have a lifespan of 12 years or 500,000 miles, said Parham. Some buses in the transit authority’s fleet, though, have amassed more than 600,000 miles.

“We will replace six more buses within two years,” Weckoski said. “Eventually, all of our buses will be CNG.”

By Christopher Buckley | Posted: Wednesday, January 27, 2016 2:15 am

Valley public transit pioneer honored for years of service

John “Chummy” Lignelli recalls the first meeting of elected officials from the Mon Valley to discuss public transit.

It took place 30 years ago in Donora, where Lignelli was borough council president. He was elected mayor in 1993 and remained at the post until he retired last year.

Lignelli said he planned the meeting at a time when two private contractors, 88 Transit and 70-S, provided the only transit services in the area.

The closest public transit service was in the South Hills.

In 1985, the Mid-Mon Valley Transit Authority opened its first office in Donora.

On Tuesday, transit leaders honored Lignelli at the Residence at Hilltop in Carroll for his service to the authority.

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