Tuesday, May 29, 2012

May 2012- Transit News and Events


 MovePGH is the transportation component of the City's initiative to reinvent and redesign its neighborhoods as modern, vibrant , global and diverse communities. A series of workshops that invites community members and stakeholders to the discussion table, MovePGH is looking for ways in which it can redesign the city's transportation infrastructure in order to improve traffic flow. The design is considering alternative modes of transportation such as improving cyclist and pedestrian safety and access.

The Community Workshop #2 that took place in South Side between May 14- May 17 focused on transportation issues related to Downtown, Lower Hill, Uptown , South Side Flats and the Second Ave corridor. Ana Bayne , the Chair of the PR/Marketing Committee participated in a interesting discussion about ways to improve cyclist safety in the South Side Flats with  two members of BikePgh and two members of the Plan Study Team. Another topic that was covered during her hour long conversation with the MovePGH team was the Downtown-Oakland BRT project and its potential to improve peak traffic flow Uptown. 

If you are interested in the city's transportation future and you think that your opinions and experiences can make an impact, we suggest that you attend the third MovePGH community workshop , scheduled for mid- June. For more information on the Community Workshop #3 click here.

If you are interested to find more about the Downtown-Oakland BRT project and its impact on Uptown traffic flow or Hill District's development,  you should visit the Get There PGH website and attend a public meeting.


The Port Authority started its customer pilot program for the ConnectCard. The pilot program will test market the ConnectCard before the new product will be officially launched for all riders this fall.

If you are a regular rider you can participate in this program and test the ConnectCard before everybody else whether you use monthly, weekly passes or you purchase tickets or pay cash. In order to participate in the program you need sign up online at ConnectCard.org .
Riders chosen to be part of the pilot program will receive a free card by mail,  instructions on how to use it and where to load it. The  participants  in the pilot program will also receive a booklet they can use in order to provide the Port Authority with input on the ConnectCard. Participants are also eligible to be entered in a drawing for a free monthly pass.

Harrisburg Trip

On May 22 ACTC members joined PA Interfaith Impact Network  on their trip to Harrisburg, where they confronted Governor Corbett on two hot issues for Allegheny County- transit and education cuts.  For more  information on PIIN's transit task force click here.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Port Authority's Board approves new round of cuts and fare hikes as a result of budget woes, funding crisis

             Port Authority's Board approved record service cuts this morning. The service cuts, along with a fare increase in July, are for now the only solution to a $64 million budget shortfall in the Port Authority's operating budget. As we all know, the Agency cannot run a deficit budget, so each time there is a budget deficit and no other solution, it has to cut service hours in order to be able to balance its budget. Unless the Port Authority, the state, and local governments find a solution to the agency's budget shortfall, the 35% service cuts will become reality on September 2.  
The pink area on this map represents the area where ACCESS
service will be cut. (map by M.Sypolt @TransitGuru)

The reality of the service cuts in numbers:
  • 46 of  Port Authority's 102 routes will be eliminated
  • 40,000 rides will be lost, leaving thousands  of riders stranded
  • ACCESS coverage will be significantly reduced
  • 600 lost jobs
  • 18 park and rides will no longer be served
  • no service past 10 p.m. (with the exception of very few routes )
More than half of Port Authority's funding comes from the state. PA Governor Tom Corbett was expected to come up with a legislative solution providing the comprehensive, dedicated funding the Agency needs in order to cover its budget shortfall and eventually, grow service in the region. But Governor Corbett has yet to take a position on the recommendations to funding transportation proposed by the Transportation Funding Advisory Commission (TFAC), which Corbett himself appointed last year. A state-wide solution is needed to pay for badly needed repairs to bridges and roads, as well as ongoing costs to provide mass transit service in the dozens of Pennsylvania's public transit systems. The TFAC's several recommendations for funding solutions for transit have largely been ignored.

In an interview with KDKA's Political Editor Joe Delano, yesterday evening, Governor Corbett stated that in order for the state government to step up with a funding solution for the Port Authority : "...they have to take a look at where they are spending and, as I said, they have to sit down and talk to the unions.”.

Pat McMahon, ATU85's president said this morning that the union is willing to negotiate concessions, but not before the state government comes up with an explicit funding solution. He noted that the union offered concessions before based on a promised funding solution from the state and it was the state that failed to come through with a comprehensive, dedicated funding solution for public transit in Pittsburgh. (As a reminder: The former legislative solution at the state level, Act 44 of 2007, failed to provide the necessary funds for the transportation budget when the Federal Government blocked the tolling of I-80).

It looks like Governor Corbett and ATU85 are at a roadblock right now in their efforts to stop the service cuts, but at least McMahon did not lose his sense of humor as he noted that unions are not "ATMs who can be wrung for more cash every time politicians fail to live up to their responsibilities." Unfortunately, the Pittsburgh region stands to lose a lot more than its sense of humor if the service cuts take effect in September and, as Port Authority CEO Steve Bland noted, the Board decision is reversible but the impact of the cuts on the region is not. Steve Bland also pointed out that the only missing piece from the "puzzle", a solution to Port Authority's operating budget shortfall, is a state funding solution. 

This blog post was made possible by the tweet-contributions of Lauren Daley (@lndaley) and Jon Schmitz (@pgtraffic). Read their pieces on today's Port Authority Board decision on the City Paper's website : "Port Authority approves transit cuts...hopes to reverse itself" and respectively, the Pittsburgh  Post-Gazette: "Port Authority board approves deep cuts".

Monday, April 23, 2012

Bus Rapid Transit in Pittsburgh this week


          A new series of public meetings, organized by GetTherePGh on the benefits of BRT and the Oakland Corridor project  will take place in three Pittsburgh neighborhoods this week. If you are interested in finding out more about the project, join us and the other organizations supporting it:

Hill DistrictTuesday, April 24, 2012 from 6–8pm
Hill House Kaufman Center Auditorium
1825 Centre Avenue, Hill District
OaklandWednesday, April 25, 2012 from 6–8pm
Carnegie Mellon University
University Student Center, Rangos Ballroom
5032 Forbes Avenue, Oakland
East End:Thursday, April 26, 2012 from 6–8pm
East Liberty Presbyterian Church Social Hall
116 South Highland Avenue, East Liberty
           Considered a cost effective alternative to light rail, Bus Rapid Transit does offer faster, more reliable service to riders. Another major benefit for Bus Rapid Transit is that it relieves traffic congestion on over crowded urban corridors by encouraging drivers to consider the alternative. 
More information on the BRT benefits, costs and shortfalls  on Victoria Transport Policy Institute , TDM Encyclopedia : Bus Rapid Transit

Monday, April 2, 2012

March 2012 News and Updates

After many years of debate and construction work, the light rail connection to the North Shore opened to the public. Transit fans and North Shore commuters were able to take the first ride on March 25th, around 5 am.
Several ACTC members were present  during the inaugural opening on March 23rd and boarded the first ride on the Tplus.

Just getting on train

Photo: Stuart Strickland

The Tplus (formerly known as the North Shore Connector) connects downtown with businesses and points of attraction such as the Children Museum, CarnegieScience Center, the Casino and PNC Park. More about it  on the TPlus website.

A new radio program  covering Pittsburgh transit - only  a two part series for now - produced and hosted by Daniel Tkacik, Ellis Robinson, and Kevin Brown. They  are part-time radio producers and full-time Ph.D. students at Carnegie Mellon University. The first series featured ACTC member Michael Sypolt as a speaker. To listen to the program and find more info about the producers as well as other radio shows they are hosting  visit : Transit Radio PGH.

ACTC president Jim Robinson spoke on the transit funding crisis on KDKA radio, Robert Mangino weeknights . To listen to the program visit  CBS Local Transit Council Talks Cuts.