Thursday, September 23, 2004


The Montgomery Newspapers group reports that the Route 311/Commonwealth Breeze may be on its last legs after efforts by Montgomery County to secure outside funding failed:

Montgomery County officials have decided to stop funding the commuter bus service after failing to get private subsidies from businesses served by the SEPTA-operated route, a county official said last week.

Leo Bagley, chief transportation planner at the Montgomery County Planning Commission, said the Breeze Route 311 will stop running by year's end, when county commissioners end the county's subsidy of the route.

The county is paying about $100,000 of the yearly cost for the route, with about $30,000 in fares coming from the 75 passenger trips each day on the route, Bagley said.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority must first hold a hearing before officially abandoning the route, which Bagley said he expected to happen by November.

Ridership on the route has declined from about 200 passengers a day three years ago, he said.

Bagley said workforce. changes among businesses along the route has led to declines in riders.

The county looked at changing the bus' route to better serve businesses and attract subsidies from employers.

But Bagley said the two key businesses served by the route weren't interested. GMAC, the lending subsidiary of General Motors, planned to set up an internal mechanism to get people to its several offices in Horsham without funding the SEPTA route, Bagley said.

The Abington Health Center on Maryland Avenue in Upper Moreland, run by Abington Memorial Hospital, told the county that it would have its inconvenienced workers use other bus routes, which would add a quarter-mile walk to their commute, Bagley said.

"We're not going to be able to work it out," he said.

Ridership on the Horsham Breeze Route 310 remains strong with several hundred passengers daily but it can't be expanded because it would interfere with that bus' connections to other transit routes, Bagley explained.

That route primarily serves businesses in office parks along Blair Mill and Dresher roads.

The Commonwealth Breeze runs a loop from Willow Grove Park Mall north to the Commonwealth Corporate Center north of Horsham Road.

Ridership declined in recent years after Advanta and Prudential Financial cut the number of jobs in Upper Moreland and Horsham, Bagley said. Souderton Independent/Montgomery Newspapers

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