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CamTran announces free rides for vets and service members

CAMBRIA COUNTY, Pa. -- A big announcement was made in Johnstown on Friday that will impact local veterans. The Cambria County Transit Authority said all veterans and active services members will soon be able to ride for free.

"These are proud people," said Ed Cernic, chairman of the CamTran board of directors. "Our veterans are proud people and they don't want to ask for anything."

That's just one of the reasons why CamTran said it's decided to step in and give back, starting a new program that will allow all veterans and active service members to ride free.

"That's the least that we could do as a governmental authority in honoring those folks and honoring what they do to support us each and every day," said Cernic.

The new initiative will include unlimited rides on the inclined plane and all of CamTrans fixed routes which operate throughout Cambria County and portions of Somerset and Blair counties.

"All they have to do is if they're in military uniform, get on and they won't be charged," said Cernic. "They can also show their valid military ID."

"Many of these veterans have to get out to their appointments at the VA and other medical facilities and this will allow them to do that," said Tom Caulfield, director of the Veteran's Leadership Program.

Admittedly. CamTran is reimbursed by the government for riders 65 years and older who already ride for free, like Stephen Wilson. Without a free pass, he said he wouldn't be able to make it to the Johnstown senior center, to get his groceries or visit his aging mother.

"They provide good service for seniors and handicapped," said Wilson. "I ride it every day."

And as a veteran himself, he said the new initiative is something that won't go unnoticed.

"For what they did for their country and those who died for their country, in today's economy every little bit helps," said Wilson.

Because the buses for the new program are fixed route, CamTran said they'll be running anyway so it doesn't expect to lose any money.

CamTran said the free ride program will be a permanent fixture and will begin in just a couple of weeks on Veterans Day: Monday, Nov. 11.

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times