How MCTA Started
In the early 1970's, a transportation committee was formed through the Monroe County Chamber of Commerce, and in 1978, Monroe County Commissioners formed an exploratory commission to examine ways to obtain funding for a public bus route. At that time, it was determined that a public transportation authority would have to be developed in order to receive state and federal funding.
In the fall of 1979, the County Commissioners of Monroe County appointed 7 members to form a board of directors at Monroe County Transit Authority. Martha Kitchen who served as Chairman of the Transportation Committee was also elected as Chairman of the new Monroe County Transportation Authority. The authority started its operation with a 20 passenger 1947 GMC Transit Bus, an executive director and one administrative assistant. Mr. Phillip Gerghardt, of Pocono Auto, was subcontracted to maintain the operations for the transit authority at that time.
The Early Years
On Monday, October 15th 1979, the first route began at 7:00 am at the corner of Bridge and Miller Sts. in Stroudsburg. The first route was referred to as the "Inter-boro Loop" which primarily served the Stroudsburg and East Stroudsburg business districts, the Stroud Mall, "East Stroudsburg State College," and "Pocono Hospital." The fare was $.25. On November 24, 1979, Saturday service was introduced for the holiday rush. Around the 1st of February in 1980, a second route, the "Fifth St. Loop," was introduced. It served downtown Stroudsburg, state agency offices on Phillips St. the East Stroudsburg industrial sector along Stokes Ave., and Eagle Valley Corners. The "Fifth St. Loop" connected with the "Inter-boro Loop."
The Middle Ages
In 1983, the Authority purchased 4 new, 35 passenger Neoplan Transit Buses in the amount of $630,000.00 with federal and state funds. The additional buses extended service to 3 routes, including service to Delaware Water Gap Borough.
In 1994, the Authority obtained a $1.4 million dollar grant to build its current facility in Scotrun. The facility was completed in 1998. It included a 6 vehicle repair bay, a three arm gantry bus wash bay and administration offices.
In 1997, MCTA acquired the Shared Ride program from the Area Agency on Aging. This program provides curb to curb transportation services for seniors 65 or older. For the next 12 years, service was limited to certian days of the week, depending on where the customer lived.
In 2006, MCTA through a grant from PennDOT, began providing Shared Ride service for Persons With Disabilities. This program has provided nearly 50,000 trips for enrolled invidividuals with disabilities in Monroe County who would have not otherwise have had access to public transportation.
In 2005, the MCTA took on a new look and branded itself, "The Pocono Pony." The new logo became a symbol for the lush green hills and the clean blue skies of the Pocono Mountains. MCTA, which started as a one bus show, has grown to a fleet of 16 public fixed route buses with 4 routes. As of November 2011, The Pocono Pony has a fleet of 31 Shared Ride vehicles that provide transportation under subsidized programs for seniors and people with special needs. Shared Ride offers transportation throughout all of Monroe County, as well as, regions in Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, Wilkes-Barre and Scranton.
The Techologicial Revolution
In 2009, MCTA introduced four new Gillig brand buses to it's fixed route fleet. Two of the buses are of the newly styled 'Bus Rapid Transit' design. Sleek lines and an aerodynamic body harken the new modernist approach to bus design from Europe (the buses are USA designed and built). The two other buses are designed to replicate the old time trolleys of yesteryear, right to the brass bell. While they look great, they also have cutting edge hybrid electric diesel motor technology that uses energy generated when the bus applies its brakes to begin the initial acceleration after a stop. This techonology should reduce the amount of diesel fuel used compared to other non-hybrid vehicles.
MCTA has experienced an increase in ridership each year since 2001. In our last fiscal year, July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011, MCTA provided over 217,153 passenger trips on the fixed route buses and 60,911 passenger trips on the shared ride program. Compare that to our 2004 ridership statistics and we have over 71,000 more passenger trips now - and a growth rate of over 25% in ridership.
As MCTA grows we are also providing new services to our customers. In 2009 MCTA launched both Google Transit and Routeshout. MCTA was the second transit authority in Pennsylvania to provide Google Transit services to its customers (Pittsburgh, PA - Port Authority - was the first). This service is based on Google Maps and allows you to enter your starting location and ending destination and Google will provide you the public transit route if available. Routeshout is a system that uses cell phone SMS text messages to provide the customer the next scheduled arrival time of the fixed route buses at specific locations.
MCTA is working on the next step in the technological progression to provide realtime location information for the buses. We'll keep you posted once we've been able to roll this service out.
|Martha Kitchen was the founder and first Board of Directors Chairperson in 1979. Two of the people in this photo are still active with MCTA today - Wayne Mazur, Vice Chairman and Marc Wolfe, Solicitor|
|An early photo of our Fifth Street bus circa 1980. These buses and services were leased from and operated by Mr. Gerghardt of Pocono Auto|
|In 1983 MCTA was able purchase and run its first series of new buses|
|In 2006, MCTA rebranded its service to the Pocono Pony|
|A photo of our hybrid electric / diesel trolly - Martha (as in Martha Kitchen)- in December 2009|