Lehigh Valley

More than $350M could be removed from PA's public transit fund

VIDEO: Budget plans to cut millions...

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - A vote could come Wednesday night on a plan to fill Pennsylvania's $2 billion budget hole.

Part of the plan calls for taking money from accounts for off-budget programs.

Last week 69 News reported on Farmland Preservation programs and now our focus is on transportation.

For four days a week, Allentown's Tye Bond relies on LANta buses to get to work.

"It's kind of hard without having a car right now," said the 44 year old.

Now Bond and the thousands of other LANta riders are targets in the Harrisburg budget battle.

LANta could lose $6 million, a quarter of its budget. This is part of a House GOP plan to move more than $350 million this year from Pennsylvania's Public Transit Fund, a 35 percent cut, as part of a bigger plan to balance the budget, which includes taking $27 million from the Farmland Preservation fund.

"A $6 million cut could threaten lives, threaten our ability to serve senior citizens and threaten our ability to serve those with disabilities," said PA State Rep. Democrat Pete Schweyer, who also sits on LANta's board.

Republicans say the money is coming from shadow funds that represent a surplus.

Like with farmland, officials within the transportation arena, including PennDOT, say there is no surplus and the money has already been allocated.

However, highway projects like the widening of Route 22, wouldn't be affected, PennDOT says.

But Becky Bradley of the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission says the cuts for public transit could be a double whammy as state dollars are matched with federal funds.

"Without those resources even more money could be lost," Bradley said.

69 News reached out to Republicans, but they did not return calls.

But those like Bond are hoping this is a budget bill that doesn't get a green light.

"I pretty much rely on the bus to get where I need to go," Bond said.


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