Commuters in Berks urged to leave cars at home, try transit

Commuters in Berks urged to leave cars at home, try transit

READING, Pa. - Officials in Berks County are urging you to try transit.

With rising fuel costs, BARTA has teamed up with Commuter Services of Pennsylvania to highlight the economic benefits of riding the bus.

Nearly 11,000 people ride BARTA buses each day through Berks County. That's close to 3.5 million rides a year.

Officials have dubbed September "Try Transit Month."

"People are looking for a more economical way to get to work, so BARTA has seen an increase in riders and we expect that to keep going," said Brandy Heilman, executive director of Commuter Services.

BARTA officials said ridership is up 6% from last year.

"Between 55% to 60% of our rides that we give are going back and forth to work," said Dennis Louwerse, executive director of BARTA.

BARTA has 23 designated routes, 21 of them leave the city of Reading. Commuter Services, BARTA and county Commissioner Kevin Barnhardt hopped on board for a ride-along Wednesday, trying to convince commuters to ride, rather than drive to work.

One of their biggest selling points is the pain at the pump. With prices nearing $4, it can make your wallet feel like it's running on empty, but if you try transit the savings could add up.

"A lot of times what people would spend for one month is one tank of gas, and that's gone in three or four days," said Heilman.

On top of that, add in the price of parking and the wear and tear on your vehicle.

"On an average commute of 20 miles, 10 miles one-way back and forth, you'll save over $5,000 a year by riding BARTA," said Barnhardt.

During Try Transit Month, commuters are invited to log their transit trips with Commuter Services and they will be entered to win a monthly transit pass, and other prizes, including an Amazon Kindle or a pair of round-trip Amtrak tickets to New York City.

Commuters can log their trip online at or obtain a log sheet by contacting the Commuter Services office by phone at 866-579-RIDE.

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