A public hearing at Montgomery County Community College was held due to proposed changes to bus routes 94 and 132, both of which stop at the college.
For Bus Route 94, which has service to Montgomery County Community College, Ambler, Fort Washington, Merck in Lansdale, and travels from the Montgomery Mall to Chestnut Hill; weeknight and Saturday evening service as well as all Sunday service is proposed to be discontinued.
For SEPTA Bus Route 132, which has service throughout Lansdale, weeknight, Saturday evening, early Saturday morning and all Sunday service is proposed to be discontinued.
John Calnan, the SEPTA's Director of Suburban Planning and Scheduling, said since 1994, Montgomery County has provided subsidies to SEPTA to help fund the 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. bus runs on both lines, as well as the Sunday service from Chestnut Hill to the Montgomery Mall. He continued that the operating deficits of the two bus lines has been covered by Montgomery County.
However, with the county's budgetary cutbacks, they are no longer able to fund these subsidies, which is why SEPTA is looking to cut back on service on these two bus routes.
Calnan said he understands that passengers who ride these buses "will be left with few if any" alternatives, as there will be no rerouting on other bus routes to accommodate these routes.
Wesley Ratko, Transportation Planner for Montgomery County, said the 2012 county budget underfunded the SEPTA line item and the county must reluctantly agree to SEPTA's decision regarding the 94 and 132 bus routes.
He continued that the county "Contines to work with SEPTA…and maintains out support for SEPTA."
The public comment portion of the hearing, which allowed for the public to testify into the record opposition or support for the proposed changes, took the majority of the hour and a half hearing, with everyone present in opposition to the proposal.
Chris Perez said the proposed changes to the 94 would negatively affect his whole family and his friends. He stated that he and many of his friends work at the Montgomery Mall in the evenings, as well as take evening classes at Montgomery County Community College. He said without the nighttime service on the 94, he would be able to get to class and work, but would not be able to get home.
Daniel Marvin, said the 94 is a crucial supplement to the regional rail lines, which he said are "fantastic" to get into and out of center city, but not for local transportation.
Marvin said that he hopes the SEPTA Board can find a more "holistic solution" that can be beneficial for everyone.
Davis Aston, said the proposed changes to the 94 would be an "educational disaster" and would mess up the educational plans for the college, as well.
He told the hearing board that by removing the evening service, it will "kill" his ability to "study, get an education, and hold a decent job."
Rachel Heller said, "I can't believe this is the only option you have…to cut [the late] bus."
Peggy Schmidt, the Executive Director of Partnership TMA, said the North Penn and Indian Valley Regions, who are currently serviced by the 132, have seen service chipped away. This "constant chipping away" she said, isolate and causes dependencies on the low income and non drivers in the region.
She continued, "Just because you cut service does not make the need go away."
Andy Sharpe, of DVARP, said they are especially concerned about the cutting of the southbound routes on the weeknights, as there would be no other way for people to get home from work or school without these bus routes.
He continued that removing these bus runs leaves only the 96 bus in the evenings, which does not services Ambler, Fort Washington, Flourtown, Chestnut Hill, or connect with any center city bus.
Calnan added that if the proposed changes were to take affect, the last bus run from MCCC would leave the college at 6:30 p.m. He also stated that the last regular runs would be in January if these proposed changes too affect.
Correction: John Calnan's name was misspelled in the original printing of this article.