The changes made over the summer to public transportation in Bethlehem appear to be here to stay.
On June 4, Trans-Bridge Lines Inc. carried out a relocation of all South Bethlehem transportation from Mechanic Street to the Bethlehem Transportation Center in North Bethlehem. The bus ticket agency, located on the corner of West Broad and Guetter streets, previously only had the Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority, or LANTA.
Trans-Bridge Inc.’s Communications Manager Jennifer Lechiski said in an email that the South Side terminal has been demolished and that no service will be put back in South Bethlehem as of now.
“Given the recent and planned construction in the area, which has increased congestion, and the fact that our customers enjoy the convenience (of) the new center, there are no plans to move back (at) this time,” she said in an email.
This last October, both Trans-Bridge Lines President Tom JeBran and LANTA’s Executive Director Owen O’Neil agreed that the movement would be a positive change for the city. Trans-Bridge and Bieber buses offer regular service to Philadelphia and New York City, among other locations.
Lehigh students and South Side residents who need to ride a Bieber or Trans-Bridge bus can board the LANTA bus stop on Fourth Street, which goes directly to the transportation center. Additionally, Lehigh students, faculty and staff can ride LANTA buses for free with their Lehigh ID cards, according to lehighvalleylive.com.
Bethlehem City Council members Bryan Callahan and Olga Negrón both previously commented in an October Brown and White article that South Bethlehem citizens still need a bus station closer to home. Negrón said in the article that the relocation would only be temporary, and Callahan said a closer bus station is necessary since the likely reason most South Bethlehem residents use the transportation systems is because they don’t have a car.
However, after a few months’ transition of having the LANTA and Bieber bus lines at one central location, Lechiski said in an email the North Side transit has improved. According to Lechiski, they have not received complaints, and customers seem to like the larger waiting area and easy access to downtown.
Not all hope is lost, though, for regional public transportation on the South Side.
Bob Bruneio, the manager of Lehigh’s transportation services, said in an email the department has received some complaints. He said he hopes that, in the future, development will bring the services back to the South Side.
“However, we do our best to provide directions and assistance with bus schedules and timing to make the process as smooth as possible,” Bruneio said in an email. “We are currently working with LANTA to look at ways to bring LANTA buses closer to campus, which would provide easier access to the North Side bus terminal.”
He said in an email his coordination with LANTA to allow Lehigh students to ride for free has been successful.
Additionally, OurBus, another transportation option, has service from the Allentown Service Plaza on Cetronia Road. Bus routes include service to Binghamton and Ithaca, New York, and Washington D.C.
OurBus Co-Founder Axel Hellman, said in an email that “people who want the (South Bethlehem) bus route to return, should request a South Bethlehem-NYC route on the OurBus’ website.”
That way, Hellman said in an email, the crowd-sourced company can evaluate the feasibility of such a launch.