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February 12, 2016

Here's your chance to tell DRPA what you think of PATCO and its bridges

Advisory committee is down six members from Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River

PATCO train Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

A PATCO train crosses the Benjamin Franklin Bridge from New Jersey headed to Pennsylvania.

WANTED: A few committed volunteers.

Slight preference for Pennsylvania residents, though New Jersey residents also needed.

Should be interested in transportation issues, primarily PATCO train line, and the Delaware River bridges known as the Ben, Walt, Barry and Betsy Ross.

Must endure a monthly meeting of several hours and sign a confidentiality form.

Compensation: Personal satisfaction.

At full strength, the Citizen Advisory Committee for the Delaware River Port Authority/Port Authority Transit Corporation should have 24 members, equally split between Jersey and Pennsylvania.

But the CAC is down six members from the Pennsylvania side of the river and not quite at full strength on the Jersey side, either.

That's an imbalance in recent years that the chairman of the committee, John Boyle, and the DRPA’s CEO, John T. Hanson, would like to see corrected.

The committee arose in 2010 from public pushback during the last fare hike and related questions about DRPA’s non-transportation spending.

Boyle said the committee’s feedback has increased “the level of response and transparency” from the DRPA and PATCO officials, adding Hanson attends every meeting to update the committee and field questions. Boyle, who works for the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, has been on the committee since it began and is now in his second-term as chairman.

Members skew more to New Jersey naturally because that’s the typical flow for commuters, said Boyle, who either bikes across the Ben Franklin or takes PATCO into Center City most days after taking NJ Transit’s River Line into Camden.

Boyle said the ideal candidate for the committee is “anybody who uses the facilities on a regular basis. We need just regular people interested in the DRPA and how they efficiently work.”

Hanson said while membership fluctuates, finding candidates from Pennsylvania is more difficult due to the natural flow of commuters into Philadelphia from the South Jersey suburbs.

Interested applicants who fill out an application to join the committee are vetted, and then invited to sit in on meetings.

After three meetings and further interviews, applicants can join the committee, he added.