Stop Hopper brings ‘microtransit’ to Chambersburg

A new dimension in public transportation will debut in the Chambersburg area on Aug. 15.

The Stop Hopper will help people with unreliable or no transportation get to work, senior citizens get to the grocery store, and anyone who wants to travel anywhere within a 15-square-mile area. It will run from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The cost is $2 a ride. Thanks to Pennsylvania Lottery funding, it is free for seniors 65 and older who register for an ID card. Children under 44 inches traveling with a paying passenger also ride for free.

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The local on-demand “microtransit” is a pilot project partnership involving Susquehanna Regional Transportation Authority’s rabbittransit, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and Franklin County. It is funded mainly by PennDOT with a 15% match from the county, which has committed $50,000 to the Stop Hopper this year.

It features a nine-passenger Ford Transit van that can easily navigate residential neighborhoods. ADA accessible with a wheelchair lift, it can seat eight plus one wheelchair or six plus two wheelchairs.

Rich Farr, executive director of the Susquehanna Regional Transportation Authority, drove the shuttle to the Franklin County commissioners meeting on Wednesday, July 27, and also spoke about the service the Chambersburg Town Council meeting on July 11.

A slide in his presentation described “microtransit” as on-demand; dynamic and flexible; technology-driven; filling traditional transportation gaps; and zonal or limited service area.

“When individuals have increased mobility options, they have increased possibilities to improve their quality of life,” Farr said. “We’re proud to offer the Stop Hopper as an affordable way to help riders in smaller, rural communities access the benefits of public transit.”

Where will the Stop Hopper go?

Valerie Jordan, who lives in the Fayetteville area, was at the commissioners’ meeting to get more information about the free rides for older people.

“I think it’s going to be a very nice service for seniors,” she said before the meeting. It may be quicker to go to the grocery store by car, but she said people can socialize in the van.

“When you’re a senior, you’ve got plenty of time on your hands,” she added.

Jordan learned where she lives is outside the current boundaries, but Farr stressed this is a pilot program. He said people should make requests, which will be tracked, and the footprint might change over time.

The Stop Hopper service area extends along U.S. 30 from around Warm Spring Road to the west to near Walmart to the east, and on U.S. 11 from south near Nellie Fox Bowl to just beyond the Chambersburg business district.

Dave Keller, chairman of the commissioners, said he sees the Stop Hopper as a plus for local employers who are struggling to fill job vacancies and employees going to and coming home from work.

“That’s one of our highest purposes,” Farr said.

How does the Stop Hopper work?

The Stop Hopper is a cross between a fixed public transportation route and the shared ride service currently operated in Franklin County by rabbittransit.

Rabbittransit has been the county’s shared ride paratransit provider for seven or eight years, helping to meet essential needs of senior citizens and people with disabilities. The rides need to be arranged in advance and the wait times are longer. In fiscal 2019-20, there were about 48,000 shared rides in the county, according Carrie Gray, county administrator.

Stop Hopper is a quicker way to get around in the Chambersburg area. The goal is to have a wait time of no longer than 25 minutes with a rider onboard for no longer that 15 minutes.

Riders can download and book through the Stop Hopper app on their smartphone. They will receive an estimated pickup time, be able to track the shuttle in real time and receive an alert when it arrives.

People can also call 717-846-RIDE (7433) or 800-632-9063 to schedule a ride or flag down a vehicle to see if it has room for them.

Customer service representatives at those numbers can also talk people through signing up for and using the apps, as well as paying for their rides. Riders will be able to pay in cash, through the Token Transit app or by credit card in the Stop Hopper app.

Farr noted someone who doesn’t have a credit card can buy a prepaid card.

“We spent a lot of time in customer service providing information like this,” Farr said.

Flyers and posters are being distributed throughout the community with contact information. The flyers include QR codes to scan via smartphone to get the Stop Hopper app or for an overview, including frequently asked questions.

The Stop Hopper evolution

Franklin County is the latest stop for the Stop Hopper. Farr said rabbittransit has been working on microtransit since 2017 and started offering rides in 2018. It is the only ride program for which demand grew during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re about mobility,” Farr said. “We really want to enhance people’s lives.”

There are shuttles for various communities in York, Snyder, Northumberland, Columbia, Montour and Union counties.

Stop Hopper launched in the Sunbury-Selinsgrove area in December 2021 and ridership passed the one-year goal in two months, Farr said.

If Chambersburg averages two and a half to three riders an hour in the first year, it will be right on track. Four to five riders an hour is considered successful in the PennDOT pilot program, which will probably last two to three years.

Commissioner John Flannery asked if Stop Hopper could expand elsewhere in Franklin County if it is successful.

Farr said there is a “laundry list for where we’d like to go next” across the region.

Shawn Hardy is a reporter with Gannett's Franklin County newspapers in south-central Pennsylvania — the Echo Pilot in Greencastle, The Record Herald in Waynesboro and the Public Opinion in Chambersburg. She has more than 35 years of journalism experience. Reach her at

This article originally appeared on Chambersburg Public Opinion: On-demand shuttle van will travel in Chambersburg area