Amtran facing possible cut to Tyrone service

In September 2004, Amtran began offering transportation services, linking Tyrone, Bellwood and Altoona.
But, over a year later, those services are in danger of ending.
The public transportation service, called BlairRides, offers three round-trips daily, Monday through Friday, with stops in Tyrone, Bellwood and Altoona. Shortly after the service began, places such as Walmart and the Logan Valley Mall were added to the route, at the request of customers.
Also offered are five “Tyrone loops” for individuals who wish to travel within the borough. Stops in Tyrone include: Tyrone-Snyder Public Library, Tyrone Hospital, Pennsylvania House, Blair Medical Associates, Sheetz, Sylvan Acres, Epworth Manor, M&T Bank, and the Tyrone Train Station. Other area stops are at the Pinecroft Park and Ride, DelGrosso’s Park, the Bellwood Library, Hometown Market, Pinecroft Fire Hall, the Altoona Hospital and the Downtown Transit Center.
Amtran General Manager, Eric Wolf, said discussions at the board level have concluded the Tyrone service is not meeting PennDot’s fare box criteria. While PennDot would like to recover 20 to 30 percent of cost, the Tyrone route is getting less than 10 percent back from fares.
Currently BlairRides is almost a year-and-a-half into it’s two year demonstration period.
“We could be looking at ending services in the spring, when funding runs out,” said Wolf, if appropriate changes could not be made by then.
The problem is that the service is not generating enough in fares. Currently the regular fare from Tyrone to Altoona is $2.50 one way, with senior citizens, 65-years-old and older, riding for free.
Wolf said the fares could be raised, but that could lead to a lower number of individuals using the service.
“We’re really disappointed,” said Wolf, “because the ridership really isn’t that bad.”
As for a solution to the problem BlairRides is facing, Wolf said one option the board is looking at is changing the route. Currently, the Tyrone loop, within the borough, is the least used route. If that part of the trip was cut out, it could reduce the cost or increase ridership. Also, cutting this part of the route could open up enough time for another daily trip to Altoona to be added. Either way, it could help BlairRides continue services.
Over the next two months, the board and staff will continue to look into the problems facing the transportation service. According to Wolf, a final decision probably won’t be reached until January.
For more information, individuals can contact BlairRides at 1-800-458-5552. The service is open to the public.