Six quarters and an hour of your time will get you from Wilkes-Barre to Scranton
By Mary Therese Biebel September 25th, 2015
WILKES-BARRE —When my neighbor Charlie recently told me his job may require him to travel to Scranton, he seemed downright dejected, especially as he uttered the words “Route 81” and “winter.”
So many people groan over that particular commute, even in good weather, but I recently discovered an inexpensive way to alleviate some of the burden — a Luzerne County Transportation Authority bus will take you all the way from downtown Wilkes-Barre to downtown Scranton for $1.50.
Six quarters! Can you believe it? Leave the driving to a pro and you don’t have to worry about parking or gas or wear-and-tear on your vehicle.
Now, don’t misunderstand. It’s not that this reporter hates driving. I live in a two-Nissan household and like the way a steering wheel feels in my hands. It’s just that when I drive, I want the experience to be like a car commercial.
Give me foliage, farmland, trees, maybe a horse in a corral — not tons of vehicles speeding along, cutting each other off and disregarding the admonitions about stopping distance they might have learned in driver’s ed.
But I digress. When I stumbled across a schedule that reveals the LCTA runs five Monday-through-Friday trips to Scranton, I called the office to ask about the fare and was astounded to learn a 20-mile trip across the county line costs the same $1.25 a rider might pay to get from downtown Wilkes-Barre to Hanover Township or just across the river into Kingston.
LCTA bus No. 17 departs from Wilkes-Barre’s Intermodal Transportation Center at 6:40, 9 and 11:45 a.m. and 1:35 and 3:25 p.m. and arrives at Scranton’s Lackawanna Avenue, across from the Steamtown Mall entrance at, respectively, 7:25 and 10 a.m., 12:50, 2:55 and 4:30 p.m., which means most of the trips take a little over an hour.
That’s not ideal for every traveler, including my neighbor Charlie, and people who need to spend less time in transit might consider Martz Trailways for a 35-minute trip, cushier seats and an $8.50 fare.
In the interest of saving money, reducing my carbon footprint and experiencing the adventure of it all, I recently took the slower bus to Scranton for an afternoon interview. I felt good about it, too, considering my $3 round-trip fare a vote for public transportation and less-congested roads.
PennDOT spokesman James May estimates 75,000 to 80,000 vehicles travel Route 81 between Wilkes-Barre and Scranton each day. That day, my car didn’t increase the number to 75,001 to 80,001.
Sadly, I remember an aquaintance once told me she wouldn’t ride a bus because she thought it wouldn’t project the appropriate “cool” image. People might think she was too down-and-out to afford a car. Or that she’d lost her license. Or that she had a disability.
Sigh. To that, I’ll just say I noticed genuine kindness on the bus. On the trip north, a young man who had been napping woke up and helped an older man figure out where he’d be going once he got to Scranton. On the return trip, a middle-aged fellow saw a fellow rider having trouble with her “ride card” and dug into his own pocket for quarters to help out.
If you’re wondering what an LCTA “ride card” is, it’s a way to purchase 10 bus rides for $12 or 20 rides for $22, for an even less expensive price per ride.
OK — so there IS a travel bargain even better than the $1.50 trips.
Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT
original article link: http://timesleader.com/features/465015/six-quarters-and-an-hour-of-your-time-will-get-you-from-wilkes-barre-to-scranton