Amtran shows off upgrades

Linda Howard of Altoona is a fan of Amtran’s newly renovated bus platform.

On Friday, at a celebration of the completion of the $155,000 project, Howard — who rides the Crosstown and Ivyside buses to shop at Walmart, see her doctor and visit her father-in-law at the Hollidaysburg Veterans Home, says she’s been “telling everybody, ‘look how much nicer and cleaner it is.'”

The platform area also smells better, Howard said, speaking of the empty garbage cans — the decorative containers for which have been repainted.

“It gives us a little bit of class,” she added.

The main focus of the platform upgrades were the roof panels.

Amtran had trouble for years with the old ones, which peeled repeatedly, never holding paint for long.

The new ones, with a special factory finish, shouldn’t have that problem, said EADS engineer Brent Cartwright.

The panels are extra-thick, because they span about 8 feet between the front and back beams of the roof.

Cartwright considered whether to add cross pieces, which would have shortened the span and allow for lighter-gauge panels, but calculated that the additional cost would have canceled out the lower cost for the panels.

Workers for contractor J.C. Orr & Son exposed the steel of two of the outer columns holding up the roof but found no rust problems, Cartwright said.

The columns and the roof substructure — where rust problems were corrected — were repainted baby blue to match the steel of the 13th Street crossover nearby.

Workers installed a system that emits a sound pitched too high for human hearing to discourage birds from nesting in the “nooks and crannies” of the roof substructure, Cartwright said.

Workers will soon replace the light fixtures with LED components.

A PennDOT grant paid for construction and a Federal Transit Adminis-tration grant paid for preliminary work, according to Amtran General Manager Eric Wolf.

The PennDOT money was available because of Act 89 of 2013, which increased public transit funding in the state over five years by about $490 million, according to Wolf.

State Sen. John H. Eichelberger Jr., R-Blair, supported the passage of Act 89, Wolf said.

The backing of U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-9th District, for the FTA funding was also important, because it lent “legitimacy and credibility” to Amtran’s request for the money, Wolf said.

Amtran expects to upgrade the platform’s electronic signs, which announce the coming of specific buses.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.