Tuesday, November 13, 2007

If LANTA Won't Come to Hamilton Street Merchants, They Will Go to LANTA

LANTA, the Lehigh Valley's mass transit provider, has changed its schedule. Its Silverline Express is now ferrying bus passengers, every half hour, from Allentown's brand spankin' new transit center to Lehigh Valley Mall.

Whoopee!

While LANTA dumps Allentown customers off at Victoria's Secret and The Gap, the locally owned stores die, one by one, thanks to bus routing changes that have killed their business. Neither LANTA nor Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski has had the basic decency to respond to thirty-eight suffering, and mostly minority-owned, Hamilton Street merchants, or 1,800 unhappy bus passengers. My letters, now over a month old, have also been ignored.

Maybe it's time to change my name to Bernie Pektor.

Today, LANTA's board meets at Noon in its Allentown offices, located at 1060 Lehigh Street. According to its own web page, "The public is welcome to attend these meetings and the 'courtesy of the floor' will be extended to anyone who wishes to attend and make a comment or suggestion." Although this meeting is scheduled in the middle of the work day, making it nearly impossible for working people to attend, several merchants and bus riders will be there, to voice their concerns. Blogger Mike Molovinsky will be running his own mass transit service for merchants who can get away.

If the mountain will not come to Mohammed, Mohammed will go to the mountain.

I can think of 378,300 reasons why the mountain should listen. Northampton County has budgeted $378,300 for LANTA next year. If this mass transit provider ignores the masses it is supposed to serve, it deserves no funding.
Update: Victory! LANTA's lilly white board has agreed to bus-routing changes to help the mostly minority-owned businesses along Allentown's Hamilton Street. This is what The Morning Call's road warrior, Dan Hartzell, tells us. I attended today's meeting and will post about it tomorrow.

23 comments:

A.J. Cordi said...

I already have a meeting at 11 that I must attend. Don't you love how they plan these when nobody can attend?

Be sure to represent me, if you go.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Oh, I'll be there.

Anonymous said...

BO you magnificent bastard: Bernie Pector, nice touch.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I don't know about magnificent, but I am a bastard, and I'll be darkening LANTA's doors tomorrow. I can think of 378,300 reasons why those bureaucrats need to start paying attention.

michael molovinsky said...

bernie, don't forget lehigh county also contributes 400,000 reasons

Anonymous said...

Being that I live in Northampton County, and I'm told my tax dollars go to LANTA, is there an elected official who attends meetings? Maybe a phone call to ask them to keep an open mind might help.
O_o

A.J. Cordi said...

Bernie -

My meeting is about to start. I couldn't get out of it. Don't forget to e-mail me the pictures, if you get any god ones.

Anonymous said...

>e-mail me the pictures, if you get any god ones.

God decided not to come; these things are best left to us mere mortals ;-)

A.J. Cordi said...

God called me earlier - said he'd be there... was taking the bus ;-) lol.

CattyMan said...

It seems for decades that Allentown's city fathers, business people, college officials, etc have been screaming for LANTA buses to get OFF of Hamilton Mall. I remember claims of smells, congestion, dangerous blind spots for pedestrians to be among the many complaints. Now that they've built a nice and safe depot , with indoor waiting area and Dunkin Donuts shop at 7th and Linden, we get community 'leaders' whining for the buses to come back. A bus company exists to provide efficient transportation for its passengers, not increased business for merchants.

Bernie O'Hare said...

A bus company exists to provide efficient transportation for its passengers, not increased business for merchants.

That's bullshit. A bus company exists to provide efficient transportation for its passengers to their homes, jobs and shops. LANTA fails on several counts, but let's just deal w/ the shops for now. LANTA just started its new Silverline Express to Hamilton Mall. That's fine but it needs to consider the other shops, too. LANTA has an obligations to reconsider its bus routing so that the merchants along Hamilton Street don't go under. If that happens, a three block stretch is going to be a dangerous and isolated place. Passengers want to go there. The merchants want to serve them. This is not rocket science. Fix it. All the bullshit about congestions and smells can be accommodated by simply restoring some of the routes and stops that intersect Hamilton Street.

Anonymous said...

I smell race card baiting. Is it relevant that the business owners are minorities?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 2:49, I think so. There are many forms of discrimination, from the overt kinds we all recognize to the more subtle forms we find so often in this area. If what a public body does has an adverse impact on a minority, it is discriminatory in effect. I see it in public schools all the time. They have become de facto segregated in places like Philly, and it has taken courageous judges like Commonwealth Court Judge Smith-Ribner to try and end it. Here, I am not sure what LANTA's goal may have been. I hear all sorts of different things, from clearing congestion to getting rid of the "bus people" along Hamilton Street. Whatever their motive, the bus routing changes have had a discriminatory impact on minority merchants. That has to change. After today's meeting, I think it will. I'll be posting about it tomorrow and you can probablty view a news story on Channel 69 at 5 PM.

Bernie O'Hare said...

In my comment at 2:08, I was referring to LV Mall, not Hamilton mall. Sorry.

A.J. Cordi said...

It will be interesting to see the end result of this meeting, and the previous protests and petitions.

missing RFK said...

bernie, if i may humbly offer my opinion. number 1 hamilton mall is dead as we know it as a shopping mecca. there is an ongoing effort to encourage business to locate along the 7th street corridor which has had some success. these shop owners by and large are minorities.they have created a profile that has had a positive effect on the overall revitalization of the downtown.the recent addition of offices and new construction has steered hamilton street in a new direction thereby fostering lunch and go shops plus due to the limited parking stop and go retail. there is help available for all shops in that zone to either renovate or relocate.it is their choice.we have all seen the success bethlehem has achieved in this reguard.to suggest that revitalization in allentown has discriminated against minorities is simply not true and we all have a stake in trying to work together for the common good.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Missing RFK!

number 1 hamilton mall is dead as we know it as a shopping mecca.

Hamilton Street may be dead to you and others who like the Lehigh Valley Mall or the Promenade or New Hope, but it was by no means dead. In fact, before the bus routing changes, it was actually quite the reverse. There are quite a few shops in there that cater to specific demographics, and that sell things you won't find anywhere else. Contrary to popular opinion, it was a vibrant little business community that had shops that catered to the tastes and styles of people who like the downtown lifestyle. And some of that clothing is quite expensive.

there is an ongoing effort to encourage business to locate along the 7th street corridor which has had some success. these shop owners by and large are minorities.they have created a profile that has had a positive effect on the overall revitalization of the downtown.

I laud the efforts to develop 7th St. That's great. But you don't encourage existing businesses on Hamilton St to relocate to 7th Street by taking away their customer base. That's not city planning; that's tyranny.

the recent addition of offices and new construction has steered hamilton street in a new direction thereby fostering lunch and go shops plus due to the limited parking stop and go retail.

So now are you telling me that it is, after all, gentrification? Sure sounds like that to me. I don't begrudge ABW or the Butz building or PPL Plaza, but when you ecourage this kind of developemnt by sweeping other businesses away, that is gentrification after all. What's worse, it's discriminatory justification.

there is help available for all shops in that zone to either renovate or relocate.it is their choice.

How white of you! I spoke to most of the businesses who have been impacted by this. The local government has not lifted a finger to help a single one of them. That's OK. Unlike the ABW ot PPL PLaza or Butz, they're not looking for handouts. But they're entitled to an even playing field.

we have all seen the success bethlehem has achieved in this reguard.

Bethelehem's precasino successs was very gradual and was achieved by encouraging the very kind of business that Allentown is trying to sweep away. The gentrification was occurring naturally, and in a positive way, without hurting people.

to suggest that revitalization in allentown has discriminated against minorities is simply not true and we all have a stake in trying to work together for the common good.

It most certainly has discriminated against minorities. I saw that today at lanta HQ. That may not have been the intent, but that is what has happened. Fortunately, merchants are beginning to assert themselves. I hope they register to vote, too.

A.J. Cordi said...

Bernie,

I know it's not your fault, but it's really getting annoying seeing you have to explain that so many times. I can't believe that people are still so ignorant (and/or racist).

I hope LANTA makes the right decision, and before Christmas nonetheless!

I think it's great that all these merchants can come together like this. I also think it's awesome that you have put so much time into helping them. I wish I had half the time to perform the tasks you do.

Bernie O'Hare said...

AJ,

All I've done is write about it. The real workhorses here have been Mike Molovinsky, Bibi Hazra, Jennie Lim Chen, the Park family abd Senator Browne's office.

Cattyman said...

The bus company built a nice depot for its mostly minority passengers, including indoor waiting area, coffee shop, readable signs, and public bathrooms. And Molivinsky and his lapdog Gunther call LANTA racists? I think they should look in the mirror.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Cattyman,

I don't know what Gunther has said because I stopped listening to his show years ago. I've had lots of discussions with Molovinsky concerning this issue. I never once hear him call LANTA racist.

As for me, I told you that the bus routing changes have been de facto discriminatory. That may not have been the intent, but that it is what has happened between the 7th and 10th blocks of Hamilton.

The mostly minority merchants have been separated from their customer base, and both LANTA ands city officialsd ignored them until they forced the issue yesterday.

I have no problem with the new terminal, but is it really designed to care for these mostly minority(?) passengers? if so, why was it opened before bathrooms were complete? Why did customers wait for a port-a-potty? Why was it locked when it was placed there? Who's going to do the snow removal for some of the passengers, who must walk 5 1/2 blocks to get there.

Anonymous said...

DAN HARTZELL IS AN ASSHOLE

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 2:26,

Thank you, Mrs. Hartzell.