Newspaper: The Patriot
Date: April 3, 1979
Title: Mass Transit Figures in Exit
Author: Randy Myers, Staff Writer
Area transportation industries and related concerns figure prominently in the mass evacuation plans of county and state emergency officials.
Those industries were affected widely over the weekend in the wake of voluntary evacuation by thousands of area residents fleeing potential disaster at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station.
Gasoline and bus ticket sales soared over the three-day period.
Gas station managers throughout Dauphin, Cumberland and York counties reported sales increases varying from 20 to 300 percent.
A spokesman for Greyhound Bus Lines in Harrisburg said ridership out of Harrisburg on Friday, Saturday and Sunday was about 40 percent higher than during the same period last year.
Spokesmen at both Trailways Bus Lines and Capital Area Transit said ridership was normal for the three-day period.
At Harrisburg International Airport, spokesmen for TWA and Alleghany airlines said ridership was normal, and a spokesman for Altair Airlines said passenger counts were down.
AN AMTRACK spokeswoman said passenger traffic to and from Harrisburg was normal throughout the weekend.
The greatest effect on transportation was evidenced in gasoline sales, with at least one station running out of fuel as early as noon Saturday.
Ralph Glatfelter said a 40 percent increase in sales emptied pumps at his York County Exxon station in Dover at noon Saturday.
“Friday was ridiculous,” Glatfelter said, and by Monday things weren’t much different.
“$2, $1.85, $3” were the size of many purchases, he said.
“Gallons per sale were lower than normal,” he said, indicating a higher volume of customers purchasing smaller amounts of gas.
Al Dolatoski customers were making the same kinds of purchases at his Sunoco Station in Camp Hill, where “sales went way up; more than double what we usually do.”
“I noticed a lot of people filling up, even if it only took $1.50, they were topping it off. I guess they figured they’d get as far as possible,” Dolatoski said.
IN MIDDLETOWN, increased purchases at Bob’s Citgo Sales on Friday and Saturday proved to be predictions of slow business on Monday, when many local customers had already left town.
Station manager Jack Etter said sales, mostly fill-ups, jumped nearly 40 percent Friday and were about normal Saturday.
But on Monday, only two of 10 persons who had appointments to have their cars serviced showed up, and gas sales were not exceptional, Etter said.
In New Cumberland, Paul Ramsey said sales at his Arco station at Front and Bridge streets doubled normal rates over the weekend.
Business was “extremely hectic” and by 5 p.m. Sunday his station was out of gas, Ramsey said.
“The majority of the people coming through have suitcases and small children. They’re still leaving,” Ramsey said Monday.
On Sunday, New Cumberland Mayor Leonard Sorenson said about 15 percent of the borough’s residents had fled the area.
At Paul’s Amoco Station on Linglestown Road in Linglestown, weekend sales tripled sales figures for the preceding weekend, according to owner Paul Rowe.
ROWE SAID Friday’s sales alone doubled the amount of gas his station sold Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the previous weekend.
City residents also apparently flocked to gas pumps over the weekend.
Joe Thomas said sales at both his T&L Arco Service Centers were double normal rates on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
He said business returned to normal Monday.
Leondard Lehman said business at his Gulf Station at19th and Paxton streets was “a little above average” Friday and Saturday, with Friday night being “hectic at first.”
“Older folks were gassing up getting ready to leave,” Lehman said.
While many residents filled up their cars’ gas tanks either in preparation to leave or on their way out of town, Troop State Police in Harrisburg said highways leading into and out of the area were carrying light traffic.
“Traffic patterns have changed, if anything they have gotten lighter,” a police spokesman said.
The spokesman said there has been “a great deal of movement of campers and trucks with camper tops in all directions. It’s a bit early for that type of movement.”
He said traffic coming into the Harrisburg area has been light.
BUSINESS BY Harrisburg bus lines did not contribute to the weekend’s lighter traffic, with Greyhound reporting a substantial increase in ridership and Trailways reporting normal traffic.
W.V. Dailey, city manager for Greyhound Bus Lines in Central Pennsylvania, said weekend ticket sales were 40 percent higher than sales during the same weekend last year.
He said average sales so far this year have been about the same as figures from 1978.
“A lot of people appear to be taking the opportunity to go places they might not have gone otherwise,” Dailey said Monday.
He said trips of “a couple hundred miles” have been popular, with destinations including Pittsburgh, Scranton, and Washington D.C.
Both Dailey and Gerald Smith, vice president of traffic for Capitol Trailways in Harrisburg, said their companies’ buses could be used to transport area residents should an evacuation be ordered.
“We have been in contact with (state) civil defense planners and experts and are willing to help as much as we can if an evacuation was necessary,” Dailey said.
Greyhound maintains about 60 buses in Harrisburg and has 3,000 vehicles licensed in Pennsylvania, he said.
Dailey said he has been attempting to stockpile equipment in the perimeter areas around the Harrisburg area.
Smith said county emergency preparedness officials would determine Trailways’ role in any evacuation operation.
“Right now, we’re under the auspices of the Harrisburg Police Department. If they order buses to move people out, we’ll be right there to help,” Smith said.
Lt. Carroll T. Wagner, personnel and training officer of staff and technical services for the Harrisburg Police Department, said city school buses, CAT buses and Trailways buses would operate from dispatch centers at their respective terminals in the event of an evacuation.
Wagner said the buses would pick up city residents at 39 strategic points throughout the city.
AT HARRISBURG International Airport, the three operating airlines reported fairly normal passenger traffic and said they have not been contacted by any emergency preparedness officials about the use of the airlines as evacuation modes.
Barry Beaver, customer service agent for TWA in Harrisburg, said there was a slight increase in outbound traffic over the weekend, while inbound traffic remained normal.
Beaver said despite the airport’s location less than two miles from the nuclear power site, there have been no disruption in passenger service.
“We can’t pretend it’s not happening, but everything has been operating normally,” Beaver said.
Dave Shipley, public relations director for Alleghany Airlines, said passenger loads have been normal both entering and leaving Harrisburg.
At Altair Airlines, customer service agent Mark roach said the number of no-show passengers who had booked reservations had increased since Wednesday’s accident.
The number of passengers buying tickets at the terminal was smaller than normal, and “inbound traffic was definitely less,” Roach said.
Though the airline had not been approached about its role in any possible evacuation, Roach said company personnel were keeping abreast of the situation at the power plant.
Amtrak’s director of public affairs for the Northeast Corrider, Lois Morasco, said the national rail network has not been approached about any evacuation procedures.
“We stand ready to help, but at this time we have not been called upon and I know of no plans to include us in any mass evacuation plan,” Morasco said.