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?

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