The Schuylkill Transportation System (STS), a public bus line Schuylkill County, will soon be under new management according to action taken by the county commissioners at their public meeting Wednesday at the courthouse in Pottsville. The commissioners assure the public services will continue and may be increased in the future.
Many people were under the impression that the bus line was run by the commissioners. No so. Although the county does own all the buses, equipment and building, it was managed by ReDCo, a private non-profit organization. All employees of the bus line were not county employees but employees of ReDCo.
The commissioners took the first step into changing management. Steps were taken to begin forming an authority which will replace ReDCo as the administrator. It is not certain whether the minimum number on the board, which is five, or increase it to nine members. A public hearing will be scheduled to get the peoples' imput before final action is taken by the board. The employees will come under the authority.
Solicitor Edward Brennan was assigned by the commissioners to prepare the legal documents for the transfer. At the meeting Brennan stated that many counties operate their transportation system under an authority created by the Board of Commissioners. "We are considering the STS be withdrawn from the control of ReDCo and be placed under the control of a newly-created Schuylkill County Transportation Authority," he stated.
Brennan pointed out by utilizing an authority, $338,485 would be saved in annual management fees which the county paid ReDCo, but the money would not come back to the county but be reinvested in STS for facility upgrades, fare control and other operations.
Currently at STS there are 58 employees, 45 of whom are full-time. Under the authority there would be no change in personnel, Brennan reported. The drivers and mechanics are unionized and their contract expires in 2012. The office service provided by ReDCo when the authority takes over may hire one or two clerks but Brennan said that will be left to the authority.
Brennan paid tribute to ReDCO for doing a great job in its operation of the bus line but its main line of service is to needs of people. ReDCo came to the rescue of the county 30 years ago when the county was in dire financial straights to form the bus line and get federal and state grants. The operating budget had been $3.7 million and funds are received from the state lottery plus federal grants and contribution from the county.