Allegheny Family Network offering free community shuttle in Highlands School District area
A free shuttle is available to help people get around within communities in the Highlands School District.
“The residents in the Highlands School District municipalities have limited access to public transportation throughout the day to move about the towns they reside in, visit doctors, meet with service providers or simply to go to the grocery store,” network CEO Ruth Fox said. “AFN is happy to be able to provide this pilot shuttle program to address the needs of parents who need transportation in their communities in order to help their families thrive.”
The shuttle exists primarily to get students to the network’s adult education classes at its offices in Harrison. The classes and shuttle are supported by a grant from The Heinz Endowment; the transportation piece of the grant is $10,000, said Misty Chybrzynski, who does human resources recruiting and community development for the network.
“We include transportation to the free classes and study groups for our students,” Chybrzynski said. “Since there are so many more seats on the bus than there are in the classroom, we were able to open up the shuttle to other community members who need transportation, especially in our area where public transportation is limited from town-to-town.”
The shuttle, a bus contracted through W.L. Roenigk, has 13 stops between the Tarentum Bridge and the Allegheny Valley YMCA from about 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., and then again from about 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
The shuttle follows Highlands’ snow cancellation days, but is not affected by two-hour delays. It will not be available on Jan. 1.
About 20 riders per week have been using the shuttle since it started in late November, Chybrzynski said.
“We are hoping as more people hear about it, more people will be able to take advantage of the route and get to where they need to go,” Chybrzynski said. “We also hope service providers or organizations will consider the routes when they plan for classes, appointments, programming and events so that more of our community can participate, attend or get to appointments with less hardship if they don’t drive or have a car.”
The Port Authority of Allegheny County does not have any jurisdiction over the shuttle, spokesman Jim Ritchie said.
The authority considers changes to its service annually. Following service cuts in 2007 and 2011, it has received and is considering requests for service in the Highlands area, Ritchie said.
Decisions on those requests will be made in the spring and go into the authority’s budget that is set in June for the fiscal year starting July 1, he said.
As a pilot program, Allegheny Family Network’s shuttle will run through June. It is seeking donations to keep it running and possibly expand it.
“We are hoping that other organizations, service providers or businesses who see local public transportation as an asset will contribute or make donations to the shuttle program so that we can continue it at least through the end of the year,” Chybrzynski said. “If we have enough support, we hope to be able to add more stops, routes and times to the shuttle schedule.”
Brian Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, [email protected] or via Twitter @BCRittmeyer.