Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy Holidays Port Authority!

It makes me a bit sadder, as it probably makes all other PAT riders, to think that the new year will bring not only a fare increase but also service cuts. Fortunately we can still hope that those cuts will be a lot less ravaging for the network than the original projections. And hopefully the impact of any service cuts will raise local awareness on the necessity of Public Transportation services in the area and therefore a dedicated funding solution, rather than lead the whole system to collapse...

I, for one, am hopeful that the Port Authority will find in the end the solution that will work for all stakeholders. As the were able to make the new years transition less bitter with a day of free rides and a special shuttle for anyone who wants to experience the 2011 NHL Winter Classic®.
And it is all possible due to an external sponsor who will take over the costs , no need to worry about budget shortfalls.

For more information on the shuttle route and schedule as well as the free January 1st ride visit the Port Authority's website.

Until then we wish all Pittsburgh Metro transit riders Happy Holidays and a plentiful New Year!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission voted on temporary funding solution for Public Transportation

This Monday, December 13th, SPC voted (27to 22) for a temporary funding solution of $45 million towards Port Authority’s deficit, as proposed by Gov. Rendell. Whilst the amount is barely enough to cover the Authority’s deficit for this fiscal year, the temporary funding was received with the understanding that it will be stretched over two fiscal years. Thus, PAT may avoid major service cuts until June 2012.
More information about this vote and what it does (or does not) represent for public transportation riders and supporters in Allegheny County can be found:

On Port Authority’s blog:

"This clearly is a short-term Band Aid -- not a long-term solution. In
response to concerns by a number of SPC Commissioners over the short-term
benefit of these funds, Port Authority has committed to examine "stretching" the
$45 million over the next 18 months -- through June 30, 2012."

Read more:

In the City Paper:
The Port Authority got its bailout last night: The Southwestern
Pennsylvania Commission approved diverting $45 million in discretionary funds
and staving off the biggest service reduction in the transit agency's history.

Read more: The author Lauren Daley also sent real-time tweets from the SPC meeting, for which she became my favorite Burgh reporter.

reading Jon Schmitz in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette
"Approval came after Port Authority CEO Steve Bland said the agency would
consider spreading the emergency funding over an extra year to give the state
Legislature and incoming Gov. Tom Corbett until July 2012 to address a statewide
transportation funding shortfall."
Read more: and the nominal votes :

this blog’s contributors posts on their personal blogs:

Stuart Strickland, a veteran public transportation advocate:
"I am happy that SPC voted yes, if only barely. I predicted a 51/49% vote in
favor; the actual tally was 55/45%. Those numbers aside, the math of the
short-term fix doesn't add up. Somehow this $45M Gov. Rendell found can be
stretched not only to June 30, 2011, but also to June 30, 2012, but I have grave
doubts. Adding a certain 15% service cut in March to the certain fare hike in
January, however, does not warm the cockles of my heart."

Read more

Ana Bayne, who is hoping to live long enough to experience German quality public transportation in the area:

"So instead of asking for dedicated funding, what I'd like to ask them (the
Republicans) is to reduce taxes. Yes, you read it well: Reduce Taxes. More
specific: reduce state taxes. Give each county the ability to re-direct that
potential revenue towards whatever that particular county needs more. And if you
do look at the numbers, it may even make sense…"

Read more:

Monday, December 13, 2010

Another temporary solution for transit funding: is it enough?

( from twitter)
@lndaley Spc approves 45 million bridge funding for PAT

with 27 yay votes out of 49, or 55.1% percent.

The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission is expected to vote today on Governor's Rendell proposed $45 million temporary funding solution for the Port Authority of Allegheny County. As you may recall as a previous temporary funding program ended this year, the Port Authority faces a major budget shortfall in spite of making consistent efforts in the last years to cut operational as well as administrative costs while maintaining the same level of service across the county.

During WPXI's "Our Region's Business" from Sunday December 12, three special guests, Port Authority's CEO Steve Bland, the CEO of Pittsburgh's Downtown Partnership Michael Edwards and Barbara McNees, President of Pittsburgh's Chamber of Commerce, stressed the impact that this funding crisis will have on the region. In case you had missed the show, here is a short review.

Port Authority's CEO Steve Bland pointed out to the efforts made by PAT in the recent years in order to cut costs. Michael Edwards , the CEO of Pittsburgh's Downtown Partnership, stressed the impact that transit cuts will have on the development of businesses downtown Pitts burgh . It was noted that parking downtown is already "at a premium" and that the city center will not be able to sustain a significant traffic increase. And as employees may find more and more difficult and expensive to commute to the city, downtown businesses will look to relocate elsewhere. According to Barbara McNees, President of Pittsburgh's Chamber of Commerce, it is the lack of dedicated funding for public transportation that is at the roots of all the transit funding problems. She also expressed concern that the transit funding crisis may escalate and have a serious impact all transit agencies in Pennsylvania. A common point stressed by all three guests: the funding crisis is not just a funding crisis but a transportation crisis as there is a need of funds for infrastructure upgrades and major repairs, especially when bridges are concerned.

And there is a reason why bridges were an object of concern for WPXI’s guests, as they shall be for any Pennsylvania resident. It is well know that we do have some of the oldest bridges in the U.S., most were built long before people even dreamt that personal autos will become the main mean of transportation. This is why a lack of funds for serious upgrades to these bridges combined with a lack of funds for public transit, and consequently an increase in traffic over these bridges, may lead to an unexpected outcome. An outcome we may not like to think of …

Required reading
( Especially when puzzled by question in the title)
Stuart Strickland's 2004 opinion article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Why Starve Public Transit?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

How to become less dependent on the automobile

Do you own your car or does your car own you?
Are you feeling overwhelmed by the costs of car ownership? Would you like to be able to give up one of cars in the household but you became so dependent on driving everywhere that you do not know how to do it?

To find out how other people were successful in becoming less dependent on their automobile read TransitGuru’ s most recent blog post. And you will also find some useful tips you can use if you are ,indeed, determined in getting back you independence:

Becoming Less Dependent on the Automobile

A rather routine trip to the grocery store prompted me to write this entry. This trip is routine in that I go to the Market District at least three times a week and pick up groceries or supplies of some type. Until a few years ago, I was thought of as "transit dependent" as I deferred obtaining my driver's license until I was married and had a family. It was thought of as a necessity to have, and to a certain extent, it is. However, with that license to drive, I also purchased an automobile (a rather old inefficient, but reliable one). I began to use it for all kinds of errands, primarily because of the "convenience" of getting items at last minute's notice. Was I actually being "car dependent"? In a way, it was due to lack of planning for my errands

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Will there be funding for public transit?

It seems that yes, there will be funding, according to Post-Gazette's Jon Schmitz [1] :

"Gov. Ed Rendell today announced a $45 million allocation that would allow the Port Authority to avert record-breaking service cuts planned for March"
The provenience for the $45 million: reallocating stimulus money from stalled projects. The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC) is expected to vote on the reallocation of funds to public transportation during its December 13 meeting and until this vote the $45 million are no more than a projected funding solution. This is also a temporary funding solution and as governor Rendell stated, it is only meant to give Elected Governor Corbett the time to figure up a long-term solution. According to the Post-Gazette, if approved by the SPC the new funds would delay the proposed service cuts for a year.

However, since the $45 million funding will only cover the budget shortfall for the current fiscal year that ends June 30 2011 , the Port Authority may decide to delay the service cuts only until July 2011 which only buys a few more months for those Pittsburgh riders expecting to lose service come March 13.

Port Authority’s CEO Steve Bland said that he is waiting for the SPC vote before making any decisions regarding the planned March 13 cuts, according to Lauren Daley (@lndaley ) from the Pittsburgh City Paper.

Yes, Governor Rendell brought us some good news today and most important he brought us hope that we can avoid becoming again a city poisoned by pollution because we are becoming more and more car dependent city. But if a green Pittsburgh is going to remain mere hope, or will become a reality depends on our newly elected state officials and on us, the riders. This is why we will continue to advocate actively and support public transportation solutions.

We will return with more updates on the funding crisis soon so stay by.
For more twitter news follow @ bus15237 , @ TransitGuru, @lndaley and @BlaqBentley

[1] Post Gazette Source: