Free rides for Midstaters to vax appointments; safer, nicer transit hub unveiled

Harrisburg

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — With nearly half of Pennsylvanians yet to get their first COVID-19 vaccine shot, vaccine hesitancy is the talk of the commonwealth. But not everybody who hasn’t gotten a shot is hesitating.

“We know that mobility matters,” said Richard Farr, executive director of Harrisburg-based Capital Area Transit (CAT) and York-based rabbittransit.

So Midstate transit agencies — those two, plus others such as Lancaster-based Red Rose Transit and Lebanon Transit — are offering free rides to vaccination appointments, even if the sites aren’t along regular bus routes. Just call the system serving your area:

  • Capital Area Transit: 717-233-5657
  • rabbittransit: 1-800-632-9063
  • Red Rose Transit: 717-393-3315
  • Lebanon Transit: 717-264-3664

“People have to have equal access in life to have a high quality of life,” Farr said. “And that’s what transportation does. So we really want to remove that barrier so transportation isn’t the reason why they can’t get a vaccine.”

Farr made those comments at an event Tuesday — joined by PennDOT and Harrisburg city officials — marking the official opening of CAT’s redesigned Market Square Transfer Center, at the intersection of 2nd and Market streets.

Most significantly, the hub features safety improvements in the wake of the accidental 2018 death of a pedestrian who was struck by a bus, plus ramps that provide better platform access to passengers traveling in wheelchairs or pushing strollers or carts.

But there are aesthetic improvements too — and some changes that address both aesthetics and safety, such as planters with flowers that also block pedestrians from running outside crosswalks into the paths of buses. Lighted signs warn pedestrians outside the station when a bus is approaching them.

Jennie Granger, PennDOT’s deputy secretary for multimodal transportation spoke at the event of the importance of public transportation, which she noted exists in some form in all 67 Pennsylvania counties.

“Public transit connects people to their communities, transports them to medical appointments and for their COVID vaccines, to shopping and to visit loved ones,” Granger said.

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