After rooting around for riders recently so it can take advantage of high gas prices, Amtran has unearthed a cache of them in Tipton.
In keeping with Altoona's Take a Bus to Work Week Aug. 18-23, the bus authority has added two morning and two afternoon routes to accommodate workers at New Pig Corp.
Thirteen New Pig employees have signed up for the "Tipton Pigger," which will run from Logan Valley Mall to Sixth Avenue to Station Medical Center to Walton Avenue, then Old Route 220 and back again in the afternoons, officials said.
As many as four other workers also are interested, company Human Resources Director Ross Adams said.
Amtran also added an earlier run to each of the Eldorado, Fairview and Pleasant Valley routes to accommodate workers who need to get to jobs earlier than the regular first runs.
Those initial runs will continue in the same time slots, Amtran General Manager Eric Wolf said.
All the additions are experimental and subject to withdrawal or revision, based on ridership, he said.
New Pig responded more enthusiastically than any other firm to Amtran's recent invitation for prospective riders to share their transit needs by phone or Web survey, Wolf said.
"They had the loudest voice," he said.
An employee mentioned the campaign to Adams, who checked it out and shared details with workers.
Workers responded to a survey on the company Web site, then to an Amtran sign-up sheet, Adams said.
The routes should help make the firm accessible to would-be hires who lack a family car, or whose spouses need the family's single car, he said.
It may help current employees when they have car trouble, when their family transportation alternatives change or when they have trouble paying for gas, he said.
It could even cut down on absenteeism.
The company is not subsidizing the routes or fares, but the price is fair, Adams said.
To go 30 miles a day, the cost would be $1.72, or $38 for a monthly pass.
"A pretty good price for Piggers," Adams said.
As part of the ridership promotion, Amtran workers planted political-style signs on Interstate 99 ramps urging Altoona-State College commuters to say whether they're interested in a route.
"Down-and-dirty marketing," Wolf said.
If there's enough response, the authority will contact Fullington Trailways to discuss creating one.
Depending on rider projections, Fullington could do it without subsidy, with subsidy or under contract with Amtran as the grantee for a subsidy, Wolf said.
One "Tipton Pigger" brings employees to New Pig in Tipton Monday to Friday for the start of a 7:30 a.m. workday; one brings them for the start of an 8 a.m. workday. A majority rode on the second run Monday.
A new early run on the Eldorado route will start at 7:10 a.m.; while new runs on the Fairview and Pleasant Valley routes will start at 7 a.m.
Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.