The first decade of the Authority was perhaps the most active in its history. Replacement of the fleet, restoration of services that had been reduced over the years, lowering fares and giving transit employees a sense of stability all contributed to attracting passengers back to the system.
On July 1, 1973, in cooperation with the State of Pennsylvania, LANTA introduced a free fare program for persons 65 years of age or older. Funded through the state lottery, the program provided for free rides during off-peak weekdays hours (9 a.m. through 3:30 p.m.) and all day Saturday.
A new fleet of 59 GMC, air-conditioned, 45-passenger coaches were delivered and put into service in September 1973. At this time LANTA began retiring the older – dating back as far as the late 1940’s – heavily worn vehicles acquired from LVT.
An Allentown transfer station, located at 7th and Walnut streets, was opened on January 7, 1974. Most Allentown routes passed through this new transfer station. There were shelters in this station and it afforded passenger a central location to wait for their transfer bus to arrive.
Roland Jones was named the 2nd LANTA Chairman on July 1, 1974.
May 1, 1975 brought the lowering of the peak hour fare from 45 cents to 35 cents: a 22% reduction. A $14, 40-ride ticket and a $14 unlimited ride monthly pass were introduced at this time.
Seeing the need for service in the outlaying areas of the Lehigh Valley, LANTA began servicing the Slate Belt area on July 7, 1975. Also, the former Allentown Suburban Lines routes to West Allentown and Slatington were added.
In October 1975 LANTA introduced a half-fare program for passengers with or disabilities.
On July 1, 1976 Anthony W. Forchielli was named the 3rd LANTA chairman.
In December 1976 ground was broken for the Easton area office and maintenance building in Palmer Township. With this building, LANTA would no long require the costly rented facilities for their buses in Easton and a facility specifically designed for the maintenance and storage of city transit buses would be designed and built.
As part of LANTA’s commitment to implement the recommendations of a year-long Joint Planning Commission study on how the needs of persons with physical and mental disabilities can best be served, in March 1977 LANTA installed handrails on all buses and adopted a policy of priority seating for the elderly and persons with disabilities. The study also recommended that LANTA participate in the formation of a private, non-profit transportation corporation to provide specialized, door-to-door transportation services. This entity eventually became VAST, the Valley Association for Specialized Transportation.
June 26, 1977 marked the formal dedication and open house to celebrate the completion of the Easton garage and office building. The structure was finished before the originally estimated date and came in below the cost estimates. Also, on this date Armando V. Greco, a Senior Transportation Planner with the Planning Commission, began his tenure as LANTA’s second Executive Director.
On August 30, 1977 the Authority approved a program to streamline operations. The reason for this was to “bring a rapidly rising operating deficit back under control.” The service changes reduced operations by 17 percent. Rider needs were protected and overall rider levels fell only 2 percent.
The stage was set for growth and improvements to public transportation services in the Lehigh Valley.