Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Bus bike racks, kind of a big deal

Pittsburgh's Port Authority of Allegheny County bus system announced last Friday (Sept. 23, 2011) that it had completed outfitting each of its buses with racks that can hold two bicycles. As one who's been trying to use the Rack-Ride-Roll system since its earliest days, I can provide some helpful perspective.

First of all, for many of us, bicycles are transportation, not recreation. Tools, not toys. Whether we own cars or not (a good many of us do not), or whether we even have driver's licenses or not (you might be surprised how many of us choose this, emphasis upon choose), the bike is an integral part of how we get around. Ignore our backstories. We bike by choice.

More on Anything but the car

Friday, July 15, 2011

How do you get to your bus stop?

There is a very good reason why transit service providers and transit advocates need to get more involved in the discussion regarding pedestrian safety and access. You can design a transit system that provides service with less than a mile from most areas with high population concentration, yet if pedestrians cannot get to it safely then it will be useless.
The issue went beyond pedestrian safety, as shown by this story about a mother from Georgia who was convicted of vehicular homicide this week for having to cross the street with her children in an unmarked place, as Tania Snyder details in the Streetsblog Capitol Hill.
Fortunately, compared to Marietta, GA, our own Pittsburgh is quite safe for pedestrians, according to this Transportation for America study. But it may not remain as safe as we used to know for long if we do not request safe pedestrian access for every new development, for every transit stop. It is our right as pedestrians, and if we are to insist on the matter, we shall see positive results.
Look at this bus shelter on an isolated patch of grass. Beyond it stretches a newly built parking lot and shopping center. Located on Freeport Road, the bus stop is served by four routes - 1 Freeport Road (7 days per week), and 78, P16, P78 (on weekdays). Yet in spite of being in place before Target built its new store and adjacent parking lot in 2006-2007, there was no effort to build a pedestrian pathway or sidewalk from the shopping center to the shelter until very recently. And, since it is Target and not the Port Authority of Allegheny County which has the right of the way, it is only Target which can build those pathways and/or sidewalks.
Picture credit: Michael Sypolt

However, after the picture above was posted on ACTC’s Facebook page and led to an animated discussion on the issue, we were able to contact the Port Authority. Soon we were informed that after receiving numerous complaints, they had contacted Target and the store’s management committed to build the proper pedestrian access. About a month and a half later, there was a sidewalk along Freeport Road, a pedestrian pathway across the parking lot, and access ramps by the most recent ADA Title II standards.

Picture credit: Michael Sypolt

And if we end up asking ourselves how hard was it to provide pedestrian access to the Freeport bus shelter from our story, the answer should be – as hard as we want to make it.

Picture credit: Michael Sypolt

Picture credit: Michael Sypolt

Thursday, June 30, 2011

TFAC to propose toll revenues as source for transit funding

The Transportation Funding Advisory Commission plans to present its final proposal on how to deal with Pennsylvania’s $3.5 billion transportation budget deficit. As part of the proposal, there is an increase of funding to mass transit by at least $450 million annually.

One of the suggested resources for funding transiting: redirecting all revenues from the PA turnpike towards transit. Currently , from the $450 million collected annually from Turnpike tolls only $250 million goes to mass transit and $200 million is used for the highway fund. The Transportation Funding Advisory Commission proposed to use the entire revenue to fund transit, while the lost revenue for highways would be replaced from other funding sources.

“HARRISBURG — The state transportation funding commission will recommend
redirecting a portion of turnpike toll revenue to the state's highway and mass
transit funds."It would not be a change in the total money that the turnpike is
obligated to pay," said Barry Schoch, the state Secretary of Transportation and
commission chairman. "But I think the intent here is to say, 'Let's use more of
that available turnpike money for transit rather than for highways.'"

Read more in the Daily Local News: “Commission to push for tolls to fund mass transit” by Eric Boehm, PA Independent.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

"Pittsburgh is currently the only BRT system in the United States that operates a direct service model, meaning that local, limited and express services share the East Busway, accommodating a wide variety of transit needs. As the  buses serving suburban routes enter the main corridors, they transfer onto the dedicated bus lanes via connection ramps, making transfer-free trips for passengers. The BRT buses can also exit the busway and use city streets to deliver passengers to destinations."
States Stephanie Lotshaw on the “Streetsblog Capitol Hill”. [Read more here:]
Are you a South Busway or East Busway Rider? How does this work for you?

Do you consider  that bus service on the above mentioned Busways meets the FTA requirements
BRT is an enhanced bus system that operates on bus lanes or other transitways in order to combine the flexibility of buses with the efficiency of rail. By doing so, BRT operates at faster speeds, provides greater service reliability and increased customer convenience. It also utilizes a combination of advanced technologies, infrastructure and operational investments that provide significantly better service than traditional bus service."


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

ACTC elects new officers for FY2012

The membership of the Allegheny County Transit Council, the state sanctioned citizens' advisory board for riders of Port Authority of Allegheny County, has elected officers for the July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2012, fiscal year. ACTC is the only such organization in the state which selects its own members and elects its own officers. The new officers are:
  • President: James Robinson

  • Vice President: Stuart Strickland

  • Secretary: --position still vacant--

  • Treasurer: Elizabeth Kuntz

Note that we still need a Secretary, whose primary job is to take minutes at monthly meetings. As a past Secretary of ACTC, as well as formerly being President, Vice President, and Treasurer at one time or another, I can tell you a bit about the position. It is not a difficult job to do, but the skill set is a bit tough to find nowadays. Mainly one needs to be able to take good notes, and compose them into coherent prose within a few days of the meeting. Since it forces you to come to meetings and pay attention, this is ideal for someone who has a desire to go on into a future in public service, transportation (particularly transit), public relations, professional writing, or the legal field.

Our new President has been on ACTC since 2009, and served last year as Vice President. The new VP (yours truly) was VP in 2009-10, and is now serving on his third six-year term as an ACTC member. The new Treasurer is a new member, eager and willing to learn how citizen participation works with a public agency. Outgoing President Jonathan Robison was a founding member of ACTC in 1984, completing his fourth six-year term. Outgoing Secretary Patrick Singleton is moving to Portland, Oregon, to pursue a Masters degree. Former Treasurer and founding member John Weinhold passed away in March.

In coming weeks and months, we will provide more detail about the incoming officer team and the direction it and the rest of the Executive Committee plans to take in the coming year.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The RedTape Chronicles : In Pittsburgh, drastic bus service cuts strand commuters

"One downtown office building security guard I interviewed said he works
from 4 p.m. to midnight, and the service cuts eliminated the 12:20 bus -- the
last bus.
“I don’t know why they didn’t cut a bus in the middle of the day
that no one would notice,” he said. “Losing that last bus really hurt.” He
said he knows some employees who’ve had to quit.

For him, taking a taxi home at night adds $200 to his monthly transit
costs, a significant bite out of his salary. He couldn't afford to lose the job,
however, which is why he requested anonymity.
Driving isn't such a great option either. Pittsburghers just trying to get to work feel like they're being hit on all sides by city and county governments that seem to have an insatiable appetite for new fees. Prices at city-operated parking garages
have doubled in recent years. Sidewalk meter rates jumped 100 percent,
too-- a quarter now only gets you seven minutes. Meanwhile, stickers hastily
placed on parking signs all over town antagonize drivers further, announcing
meter enforcement now runs until 10 p.m., four hours earlier than the old 6
p.m. cutoff. And parking ticket enforcement agents
are everywhere."

Read more of Bob Sullivan's article and Jon Robison's interview on MSNBC's Red Tape :

Monday, June 6, 2011

Finally Something We Can Do about Transit Funding

We all know the Port Authority doesn’t have the funding needed for adequate service. We’ve been complaining about that for months – for years.
Finally, something has happened in Harrisburg which may be a step to solving the problem of adequate funding statewide, for bridges and roads as well as public transportation. Now we can DO something.

Governor Corbett has created a Transportation Funding Advisory Commission that is supposed to put forward a solution to the transportation funding problem by the end of July.
We have been told that it would be helpful for individuals to contact this commission and encourage them to do the job – to recommend a real solution to Pennsylvania’s transportation funding problem. A real solution includes funding for PAAC that is dedicated, inflation-responsive, and adequate. ‘Adequate’ means enough money to make it possible to restore the system recommended by PAAC’s TDP, before the 15% cut.

Please send an e-mail to the Transportation Funding Advisory Commission, We suggest that you e-mail a copy to Ken Zapinsky,, who is knowledgeable and sympathetic and represents Dennis Yablonsky of the Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce on the Commission. Please cc us as well This could be a real step for the Port Authority of Allegheny County to get the essential funds by early 2012.

Let’s do what we can. Keep hope alive. Keep transit alive.

Any real solution will need active support for implementation. I think that all we can do now is be ready to give active support for a real solution to the funding problem. But please send an e-mail of encouragement to today.

Jonathan Robison, President, Allegheny County Transit Council

Thursday, June 2, 2011

In Memoriam, Tribute to John Weinhold

"In Memoriam, Tribute to John Weinhold" was a major part of the agenda for the Beechview Memorial Service, which occurred on Saturday morning, 2011 May 28, 10:00 a.m. EDST, at the Beechview veterans' memorial parklet (John was a veteran), Broadway and Shiras Avenue (across Broadway from the apartment building where John last resided). This event is scheduled each year on the Saturday morning of the Memorial Day weekend.

Several people gave tribute to John Weinhold at this event including friends, a co-worker, and people who worked with John in various community organizations. The people who did give such a tribute were: Phyllis DiDiano, President of the Beechview Area Concerned Citizens; Pennsylvania State Senator Wayne Fontana; Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak; Jonathan Robison and Stu Strickland, President and Treasurer, respectively, of the Allegheny County Transit Council (ACTC); Deborah M. Skillings, Community Outreach Coordinator of the Port Authority of Allegheny County (PAT); Marilyn Ecoff, one of John's co-workers from the local office of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT); Audrey Iacone, Manager of the Beechview Branch, The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh; and close friend Glenn A. Walsh.

Pretty-Up Beechview plans on naming a garden, along Broadway in Beechview, in John's memory.

Also, the John Weinhold Humanitarian Memorial Fundraiser Spaghetti Dinner is planned for the Mercy Behavioral Health Center, 2129 Broadway in Beechview, on Wednesday evening, 2011 June 22 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. EDST. Proceeds from this event (Adults: $10, Children 12 and under: $4) will be used to help cover John's burial expenses and for causes of interest to John.

John D. Winehold , one of the 1984 charter members of the freshly founded Allegheny County Transit Council , had served the organization until his passing on March 21, 2011. A resident of Beechview , John was a neighborhood activist, former Penn DOT employee and public transportation advocate. He was a mentor and good friend for many Pittsburghers.

You can go to the following link for a biography of John D. Weinhold:

This post was co-authored by Glenn A. Walsh,
*Project Director, Friends of the Zeiss
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
* Public Transit:

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Technology to improve Port Authority’s rider experience with the fare-system

I do not know about other transit riders, but I can barely wait until I will be able to use the new ConnectCard system to pay for my fares.  This is why I decided to make sure that I will board the same bus as my friend F.H who is one of the 300 University of Pittsburg employees and students asked to test the system.
Like all Pitt staff and students, my friend’s fare is covered by her employer and she can use her University issued ID in lieu of a bus pass. With the new system in place, instead of presenting her ID to the bus driver she is swiping it over the orange magnetic reader positioned on the top of the fare box. The system validates her ID instantly, bypasses the current procedure by which the driver has to check the pass to validate it manually and streamlines the process.
Another advantage of the new system is a significant reduction of fraud.  Currently there are riders who “share” one transit pass by transferring it with one quick move to the next rider. With the new system this “trick” won’t work any longer.  As I was trying to take a picture of my friend as she was swiping her card,   I missed the first shot so with the driver’s concurrence she swiped it again. As we were expecting, the second time she tried her ID was no longer validated.

Bus rider using the new farebox system

L.H., another friend and University of Pittsburgh employee who is participating in the system’s first test group,  told me that the new system worked perfectly until today. We believe that she is one of the 25 test participants who will have their IDs deactivated randomly during the four week test period in order to make sure that previous students who are no longer enrolled with the University as well as former staff members will not take advantage of the system by using their expired IDs long after they stopped being valid. 
L.H. also noted that while the new system will make streamline the fare paying process for those riders who purchase tickets or passes, when it comes to paying the fare in cash the system is slower. This implies that in order to make the new system successful the Port Authority will have to develop a comprehensive system of distribution for ConnectCards  that includes on-line , brick-and –mortar and why not, mobile options.
To read more about the new ConnectCard fare system check our April updates. And a short note on the first testing phase here.

Monday, May 23, 2011

May News

Starting Sunday, June 12, 2011, The Port Authority of Allegheny County will adjusts schedules for 19 bus and T routes. Although lack of proper funding forced the Port Authority to reduce service by 15% on March 27th, in an effort to improve service the following route schedules will be revised:

6 Spring Hill: School trips (marked with an “S” on the schedule) are discontinued for the summer. 8 Perrysville: School trips (marked with an “S” on the schedule) are discontinued for the summer. 13 Bellevue: The last seven weekday evening trips will operate 10 minutes later. The affected trips will now arrive Downtown at 6:25 p.m. and extend to 12:25 a.m.
16 Brighton: School trips (marked with an “S” on the schedule) are discontinued for the summer. 44 Knoxville: School trips (marked with an “S” or “T” on the schedule) are discontinued for the summer. 48 Arlington: School trips (marked with an “S” on the schedule) are discontinued for the summer. 51 Carrick: School trips (marked with an “H,” “P” or “S” on the schedule) are discontinued for the summer. More trips will end at Brentwood Loop, reducing service frequency to Caste Village and Brentwood Towne Square from every 20 minutes to every 30 minutes. Trip times adjusted.
61A Wilkinsburg via Forbes Ave: Some weekday inbound trip times will be adjusted between Wilkinsburg and Forbes at Braddock.
74 Homewood-Squirrel Hill: School trips (marked with an “S” on the schedule) are discontinued for the summer. 78 Oakmont: One weekday evening outbound trip will be added; trip will leave Wilkinsburg Station at 7:46 p.m. 82 Lincoln: School trips (marked with an “S” on the schedule) are discontinued for the summer. Some evening trip times adjusted.
87 Friendship: Some weekday trip times adjusted. 91 Butler Street: Some trips will now end at Old Freeport and Freeport roads rather than ending at the VA Hospital. Weekday midday service will now operate every 18 minutes. Numerous trip times adjusted on weekdays and Saturdays.
G2 West Busway-All Stops: Trip times adjusted. Headways adjusted for consistency. On weekdays G2 will now operate every 10-20 minutes during early morning, every five minutes during peak periods, every 10 minutes between 8:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m., every 20 minutes midday and every 30 minutes in the evening.
G31 Bridgeville Flyer: Trip times adjusted. O12 McKnight Flyer: Adding two morning inbound trips to help with overcrowding. The trips will arrive Downtown at 7:35 a.m. and 8:15 a.m.
P1 East Busway-All Stops: Weekday schedule revised with trips added during various periods to address overcrowding. Round trips leaving Downtown between 9:00 p.m. and 12:00 a.m. will operate 10 minutes later, and a round trip has been added to arrive/leave Downtown at 12:40 a.m. On Saturdays, a 12:35 a.m. round trip will be added. Some minor inbound trip time adjustments will be made on Saturdays in the early a.m. and late p.m., and throughout the day on Sundays.
P2 East Busway-Short: Additional trips added to address overcrowding. Trip time adjustments. Red Line: On Saturdays, all service after 9:00 p.m. will now operate every 30 minutes. Saturday service will also be extended, with the last train leaving Downtown at 12:40 a.m. Service frequency will change on Sundays. From start of service until 11:00 a.m., service will operate every 35 minutes; from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., every 20 minutes; from 5:00 p.m. to last trip, every 35 minutes.

The first phase of the new ConnectCard fare system started today:

Port Authority has completed installation of new fareboxes on buses and rail vehicles and says it has overcome the problems that twice halted the project.
The next step in the run-up to a new high-tech fare collection system begins Monday, when 300 University of Pittsburgh staffers and students begin field-testing the system, to be followed by the entire Pitt faculty, staff and student body in the fall.
Read more in the Post-Gazette.

By the end of the week we will be able to offer you more details on the new experience from the perspective of the riders who enrolled in the testing phase. So, do remember to return for updates.

John Weinhold Memorial

And last but not least, we want to remind you that this Saturday, May 28th , there will be a memorial service in honor of long-term ACTC member John Weinhold at the Beechview Memorial parklet at Broadway and Shiras Avenues. More information on:

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Transit and Multimodal Solutions (2)

South Side-
sidewalk repairs are completed in a way that both pedestrian flow and vehicle traffic are maintained.

What I like most about Derrick's rider story is the way it highlights a different perspective on riding transit. The storyteller is not exclusively a transit rider, he is equally a car driver, cyclist and pedestrian. His choices are not motivated by personal finances or commitment to a cleaner, more social mean or transportation - but by pragmatism. Because depending on the goals of each urban dweller there is a transportation service or another that will fulfill the customer's needs best. Sometimes is driving a car, sometimes is riding transit - and sometimes is the ability to walk to your destination safely on a designated pedestrian pathway.

South Side is one of the city neighborhoods where people can choose freely between different transportation modes without having to get out of their way - such as walking a mile unsafely on the side of the road or cycling among inattentive drivers. But South Side is one of the few neighborhoods ,where one can access a diversity of transportation means. There are several city neighborhoods where one or more of these options may not be as easily available, and that is without even counting most suburban areas which are in fact the areas where most Pittsburghers live. [1]

And the reason why, sometimes, there is no access to all the transportation means mentioned above in city neighborhoods, is n the initial car-oriented design of the local infrastructure as in the case of suburban areas. The reason is our misunderstanding of the real value that multimodal transportation options do hold in urban areas. "And our priorities are so skewed that , even in the old city neighborhoods where pedestrian pathways survived the last six decades, we tend to ignore the fact that their role is not ornamental but quite pragmatic."


[1] According to the Census 2010 data, only about 20% of Allegheny County Residents live in the city of Pittsburgh. The remaining 80% are living in the 130 suburban municipalities that are part of the county.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Transit and Multimodal Solutions -A rider story about the benefits of access to diverse mode of transportation

The following story is not only about riding transit and its shortfalls and benefits as experienced by the storyteller. Instead of choosing on transportation mode or another, this storyteller decided to combine the options that were available to him to maximize the benefits.
When one has different transportation options available, one can become more productive and efficient than when that same person had just one option. If he (or she) had to drive to get to the truck’s pick up point , he (or she) would’ve had to deal with more traffic issues and also pay for parking while loading the bricks and driving the truck. The way Derrick did it –combining riding transit, driving truck and riding his bike home – saved him time and money. And his free brick-load deal, got even better:

"One of the great local resources available to the person wishing to save money is the Freecycle list. When a couple pallets of bricks were offered, I took the opportunity to collect them. This entailed a trip to North Washington Township, Westmoreland County, and would require a truck. As a Zipcar member I have trucks at my disposal, so I reserved onefor as long as it was available the next day. This meant going to Oakland to collect the truck, then heading on to get the bricks, returning home and unloading, and returning the truck. The 75 Ellsworth bus begins a few short blocks from my house, and dropped me across from my Zipcar. About 15 minutes before my reservation was to start, the previous driver returned it, so I took the free extra few minutes as Zipcar allows, and departed.

The trip out of the city was simple. Loading the bricks by hand was tedious,and I loaded about a ton. Then I drove back into the city on the Parkway East, an experience which is often as it was that afternoon quite unpleasant. Upon reaching the end of my street, I moved my car,which had been left to reserve the space I'd need to unload, and reversed the process I'd done over an hour earlier, again using my hands to transport the bricks.

In order to get home more quickly, my bike was deposited in the truck, and a short drive later, the Zipcar truck was awaiting its next driver, and I was bicycling home. I am multimodal. I use the tools at mydisposal to optimize my trips, saving both time and money. You can, too. Be aware of your options, and use them as best you can. "

Derrick B. works as a software developer for a local company. He lives with his wife in their South Side home.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Public Transit and a Social Pittsburgh. A rider story . Oakland

Do you recall our story about social cities, the way in which a city's walkability and its social desirability were interconnected? A place where events do happen is a place where people can walk to these events, or from event to event since walking spaces maximize our ability to interact socially.
The following rider story tells us how important is transit for a social Pittsburgh. And how her daily commute helped her develop not only a social network but also better social skills:

"I began my love of bus riding when I was in elementary school and had been chosen to attend the Carnegie Museum’s Tam O’Shanter art classes. Every Saturday morning you could see me catching the 67F (now the 69) to get into Oakland. I have been riding the bus to and from work for 20+ years now. Over the years riders have come and gone but those of us that have been riding the same routes for years I refer to them as my mobile family. The commute in the morning is usually quite quiet but on the way home more conversations take place. We catch up on what people are involved in, ask about their true family members, and comment on things taking place around the city and country – or just settling back and relaxing. I recall one time when we had a baby shower for one of the passengers, another time there was concern for an ailing rider who soon was no longer with us and last of all when a passenger gave out candy canes during the holiday. There is something to say about sharing the ride with others and yes, you are never alone!"

Laraine H. is a former ACTC member and a University of Pittsburgh employee.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

April Events and more…

April 9th - several ACTC members were invited to participated to the Summer Solutions Festival by the Pittsburgh CORO Fellows and address the issue of public transportation funding.
The meeting details are featured here and one can view a short movie and pictures of the event on CORO’s Flickr site .

April 20th- We have invited Pittsburghers to pledge a day among transit riders in order to mark a year from the Deepwater Horizon explosion leading to the major eco-disaster that is BP’s gulf oil spill. A good transit system can be a major factor in reducing our need for oil.
About 10 people answered out invitation by posting pictures and comments on their Face book page. We hope more took a bus or T yesterday. Thank you all for your participation.

Allegheny County Council has formed a Special Committee on Public Transportation. County citizens and bus riders are invited to participate actively in the discussion. For more information or to sign-up :

During the General Meeting, ACTC chose its nominating committee for the June 2011 elections of Executive Officers. The role of the Committee is to find suitable candidates for the positions of President, Vice-President, Treasurer and Secretary. Committee members are Stu Strickland , Patrick Singleton and Ana Bayne.

Last but not least, News on the ConnectCard – the new tool for paying your Port Authority fares to be implemented by June/July 2012.

Simpler fare plan -once implemented the ConnectCard will also lead to a change in the fare plan. For some riders these changes will mean cheaper fares. For now Port Authority is looking at a way in which to eliminate transfers .

Reduce Fraud -the ConnectCard is designed to reduce fraud, e.g. people who use another person’s Medicare card to pay half fare or groups of people who manage using only one pass together. The Port Authority estimates its revenue loss due to be in the range of million dollars per year.

Streamlining the process

  • For most customers, the ConnectCard will make easier to purchase tickets or passes –the smart cards are rechargeable and there will be several distinct ways to recharge them.

  • For people who use their employer programs to purchase monthly passes and pay through paycheck deductions, their employers will be able to recharge the amount of a monthly pass each month. Employees won't have to worry any longer about getting the pass.

  • For the employees and students of Universities participating in the free pass programs, the University will be managing the new cards from now on. Therefore, as of June 2012 , your student or employee ID will no longer be usable as transit passes.

  • People who are entitled to receive half fare discounts, will receive special cards with a photo ID on the cover. Medicare cards will no longer be accepted once the new system is implemented.

  • Senior Citizens will have to use their state issued free passes because , again, Medicare cards will no longer be accepted.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Celebrate the Earth by riding public transit

Original Photograph: Gerald Herbert/AP

Because a comprehensive public transit system that is smartly integrated with other means of transportation and planning decisions is one of the fastest, safest ways to reduce America's dependency on foreign oil. Because the best way to stress the importance of transit to all factors of decision is to take action. And taking action is a simple step as riding the bus to work. Or if you would like to take a step further - transit advocacy- join us for the monthly general meeting in the 5th Floor Board Rom of the Heinz 57 Center at 345 Sixth Ave 15222

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Celebrate Earth Day : Ride the Bus

This year Earth Day will be celebrated a couple days past April 20th, the day that marks one year since the Deepwater Horizon explosion that lead to the most devastating oil spill until now. And I hope you did not forget about that day and the months that followed.
 I know the people living in Gulf Shores Alabama did not forget. How could they when tarballs still hit their beaches?
 I know that the Oystermen in Louisiana did not forget. How could they when their fishing grounds are now dead waters and their livelihood’s all gone? Nor did the birds, the plants – crude poisoning must be now part of their genes…
What I do not know, is how must have felt behind the wheel of a gas –eating car when pictures of the disaster hit the media. I do not know how it feels because I ride the local public transit system most of the time. And public transit is a major factor in reducing the United States’ oil needs and our dependency on foreign oil.  A study by NRDC shows that better public transit and community transit has the potential to lead to 1.6 million bbl/d of oil.  
It is no secret that, with the exception of a handful of cities, metropolitan US has one of the least functional transit systems out there.  And one reason why investments and development lagged behind was the belief that no one will want to use it anymore.  This is why I am asking you to ride the bus or T on Earth Day. Tell everybody who is willing to hear us that we still want to ride public transit. We still need public transit. We understand that a car centered transportation system will never be sustainable.

I know I will be riding a bus that day. Because I know that we can have this : 

or we can have  this:

What do you choose?

for news :
Washington Post Business - BP faces protests....

Miami Herald- Mayor: Tarballs still hitting Ala.

for information on potential oil savings from better transit and community planning:

Monday, April 11, 2011

Public Transportation Solutions for Pittsburgh

Saturday, April 9th, several Allegheny County Transit Council members participated in an interesting open table discussion within the frame of the Solutions Festival organized by Coro Pittsburgh. The participating members were Jon Robison, Ana Bayne, Michael Sypolt and Stu Strickland.

The Coro Center for Civic Leadership is a national non-profit organization that prepares young people for civic leadership as part of its own fellowship program as well as in collaboration with Americorps’ Public Allies.

The event brought together citizens of Allegheny County who were asked to address issues such as demographics, water quality, pensions and transportation and present their solutions to a group of elected officials. The ACTC members were asked, of course, to participate in the transportation group and our tasks was by no means easy since we had to present short term solutions for the financial issues troubling Public Transportation in Allegheny County. The problems leading to Port Authority’s current financial troubles and recent 15% service cuts were on 1. one side the lack of dedicated funding and 2. on the other legacy costs, i.e. those costs due to previous bad management and investments and previous union contacts. Most of the solutions discussed were focused on increasing funding by increasing ridership as well as state and local funding.

The issue to be addressed when the goal is to increase ridership is: how to provide better access. Better access implies more park and ride options, sidewalks as well as technology solutions.

When the goal became to identify more public funding sources the solutions were split between new state resources such as a Vehicle Mileage Tax and a new local resources such as a tax on land ownership. However, most members of the discussion group agreed that the best would be to convene to an open discussion table as many stakeholders in the public transportation issue as possible for an initial round of comprehensive discussions and realistic solutions. This solution was also stressed in his final presentation by the CORO fellow who acted as an observer – Tosin Abgabiaka. Among the stakeholders that were identified during the discussion:

The Port Authority

The City of Pittsburgh

Allegheny County Council

The Downtown Partnership

Riders through their representatives:

Pittsburghers for Public Transportation

Allegheny County Transit Council

Several major Pittsburgh Universities

ATU 85

Monday, March 28, 2011

Transit Service Cuts (2) - March 27th was Yesterday

Now that the Port Authority service cuts we had hoped to avoid have become reality, it does not mean that there is no longer a place for a riders' advocacy group such as the Allegheny County Transit Council. It shouldn’t mean that we are the only rider advocacy group in Allegheny County either. What changed is that we are now determined to work towards restoring the lost service and improving transit service in the region while doing so. Transit is a must-have for the 21st century metropolis. So, if Pittsburgh is hoping to grow as an urban area, as a social city that makes the “most livable” top year after year in magazines and newspapers, it cannot afford to lose its transit and its riders. Concrete Steps : 1. The first step one of our members took was to develop an alternative map/timetable for Mon Valley riders whose lost service is partially replaced through the WorkLink Initiative. Also, new timetables for East Busway riders who lost early/late EBA and EBS service. Michael Sypolt is a young architect, map expert and transit system design enthusiast strongly appreciated by his peers. We strongly suggest that you follow his blog as he will continue to post updates on his work on alternative routes and options for stranded riders. 2.On this blog we will continue to post updates on our work within the community. Our general meeting schedule and soon, the minutes from these meetings, will be found on our Facebook Page.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Transit Service Cuts: March 27 is Tomorrow

Update: March 28 2011 - Negotiations failed. First weekday in Pittsburgh after the 15% service cuts…

In a final attempt to prevent the March 27th service cut and the layoff of about 180 Port Authority employees, local ATU-85 put an unexpected offer on the table: a $18.6 million concession resulting from employees accepting a 10 percent pay cut as well as a one year salary freeze. Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato countered with two proposals of his own

“Mr. Onorato's proposals use the mixture of union concessions and new revenue to boost the authority's financial position by about $30 million a year”
Read more: Pittsburgh Post Gazette A final decision is expected today at 3pm when the Port Authority Board will meet again to evaluate all proposals. Where are we, the riders, in these negotiations? Stu Strickland draws an illustrative parallel between riders and the balls used in a football game on his blog:

“In public transit, riders are the ball. Nobody cares about the riders, really. We're kicked and pushed around just like the football. How different a football game would be if, instead of a leather ball, it was played with a pot of soup. Carry that soup pot and jump on it all you want, but don't spill the soup! "

"However, there are really three sides to a football game: Officials! Officials, in this case our elected representatives, really decide what happens. They don't so much spill the soup as spoil the soup. "No you can't add ingredients." "Yes, you must add paprika and I don't care if you hate paprika." Right now they're saying, "No, you can't plug in the burner under the pot."

And we as riders do agree with his final statement : "Enough already! We riders want our soup. We do not want it spilled. We do not want it spoiled. Figure it out! Don't spill our soup!”

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

March 27th is this Sunday

Starting this Sunday, March 27th, Pittsburgh transit riders will have considerably less transportation options. Twenty-nine routes will be eliminated and weekday service will be significantly reduced on 37 additional routes in order to balance Port Authority’s budget shortfall.

More information on affected routes can be found on Port Authority’s Website. Also information on ways around the cuts on Michael Sypolt’s blog.

Other alternatives are provided by community based transportation services such as WorkLink, carpools and vanpools : CommuteInfo.

Even if your bus service will be gone this Sunday , do not give up the fight – Port Authority promised that it will restore service if it can secure better funding.

To write your representative: KeepPGHMoving

To tell your story, join us on Facebook and participate in our discussion

To tell your story ”live”, come to talk to  someone from ATU85, ACTC  or Pittsburghers for Public Transit tomorrow starting  11am to Friday, March25th at 11am. We will find them in front of Port Authority’s headquarters - 6th St. and Smithfield Ave. in Pittsburgh.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Allegheny County Transit Council opposed any cuts in transit service

A motion to "oppose the planned March 27th transit cuts “ passed during the General Meeting that took place on March 16th. This entails that ACTC suggests that the Port Authority shall consider other solutions to the budget shortfall/funding issue than cutting service by 15% on March 27. The motion did not specify, however, what alternatives are to be considered by the Port Authority.

Another proposed motion failed. The motion proposed that ACTC shall “oppose Lenzner Coach Lines from providing bus service from Franklin Park and Marshall Twp to Downtown” on the former 13J and 13K routes that are eliminated come March 27. As Stu Strickland noted during the discussion preceding the vote riders on 13G and 13J already expressed their position – some service is better than none, and it is our role to present their needs to the Port Authority.

To note that routes 13J and 13K were not eliminated due to lack of ridership but because of high costs. For example the closest Port Authority garage –the Harmar Garage- is located 23 miles from Franklin Park and about 18 miles away from Marshall. The fare box revenues - at $3.25 per trip - are not enough to cover the cost of the 17-20 mile trip from the departing station to downtown Pittsburgh . And Port Authority has to add to the actual trip costs the additional expense of running an empty bus for at least 18 miles one way from its garage to the park and ride stations.

Lenzner Coach Lines, a private bus service provider, jumped on the opportunity and submitted a plan for bus service on the 13K and 13 J routes. Located strategically in Sewickley, PA - only 4 miles away from Franklin Park and about 10 miles from the Marshal Twp Park and Ride – Lenzner has the ability to offer bus service on these routes at much lower costs for idle times. Lenzner is also going to charge about $10 for a round trip and require registration before bus could be boarded. Standing passengers will not be allowed and there will be no reduced rates for senior or disabled citizens.

Read more:

News about Lenzner proposal here: Port Authority Panel OK’s private service

A comprehensive, very recent article on Port Authority’s funding issues and the position Allegheny County’s Council took with respect to the planned 15% cuts by LaurenDaley : In Transition: The Allegheny County Port Authority is Changing – into what is the question

Also latest news on the County Council's plans to reduce funding.

Friday, March 11, 2011

So you built a green house because you care. Have you considered transit access as well?

To quote from the New Urban Network:

Transit-oriented development is the key to cutting energy consumption — even
more so than Energy Star construction or green cars, according to a
peer-reviewed study supported by EPA.

You decide to build a “green”, energy-efficient house because you really care about energy conservation and preserving the environment you shall build it where there is access to transit. Green cars are not as energy-efficient as transit. Car-sharing, thus maximizing the use of fuel and vehicle is a new concept, and its effectiveness is still tested.

Urban , ‘Brownfield’ developments, have a greater “green” potential than Greenfield ones, because they usually offer greater access to transit. And each new urban development should be in sync with investments into transit infrastructure.

That was once the case in Pittsburgh when land developers also invested in public transportation infrastructure - if we look up the histories of our oldest suburbs and neighborhoods we will note that they were built around or at the same time with a T line or bus route. Maybe that will be the case again in the 21st century though, this time, it will be the buyer to let the land developer know that he cares about transit as well.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

ACTC members made a good impression at Transportation Camp East

The Transportation Camp is an “unconference” or participant-led conference organized by OpenPlans in order to bring together technology developers, urban planners, policy makers and marketing and social media experts to the same discussion table.

Transportation Camp East took place in New York City, March 5th and 6th, bringing together people from a wide variety of backgrounds to present their work covering a multitude of transportation issues –from cost to access and from mobility to safety issues.

The camp presented a unique opportunity for ACTC members to interact with policy makers and other advocacy groups. We also got an overview to the new paths that the Department of Transportation is planning to follow. Most notable were keynotes presented by H. Giovanni Carnaroli, Senior Accountable Official for USDOT and Chris Vein, the new Deputy US CTO for Government Innovation. We would also like to point out the presentation about DOT’s research on connected vehicles given by Christopher Pangilinan , P.E., Special Assistant to the Deputy Administrator during the #IGNITE night. He brought humor and a human touch to technology. *

A core issue for transportation is urban congestion. Heavy traffic in urban areas has a multitude of negative consequences: delays, costs due to time loss , safety, and higher stress. A multitude of solutions were discussed from transit to cycling and from car sharing to bike sharing, however one solution was remarked by most : multimodality. And we had the unique opportunity to listen to Susan Zielinski from SMART describing how owning five cars is so last millennium. And perhaps even owning one if car sharing will make a good, reliable vehicle to be more accessible.

Ana Bayne suggested a similar concept during the #IGNITE night presentation - integrating transportation modes such as transit and personal vehicles with bicycles, sidewalks, etc., is not just “increasing access even as it reduces our need for mobility” but increasing mobility overall. Another session co-lead with TransportGooru Andy Palanisamy, YPT’s vice-chair for Communication, focused on social media applications to transportation. A few key words ensuing from the conversation: Credibility, Transparency, Marketing Potential, Mobile Government. And an interesting case study for transit agencies and local governments dealing having to deal with vertical hierarchies making them slow to react and less transparent : the US Army tweep.

Michael Sypolt and Stu Strickland talked about “Getting Non-Riders to Use Transit” by “Designing a System to Meet Demand”. Some suggestions ensuing from this conversation – the utility of system maps; interlining two routes with odd frequencies in order to meet demand but reduce cost instead of eliminating service in the area altogether; streamlining routes. More about technology and development can be read in: "Highlights of TranspoCamp! (includes Travel Log) "

Some other focal points for the conference were a discussion with Ellyn Shannon from the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA on how they are funded and how they are able to influence transit related decisions. Also Tana Green made an interesting presentation on High Speed Rail and we were able to discuss how transit and High Speed Rail advocates can support each other.

Our participation in the Transportation Camp also raised the interest of potential investors, and for our technology whizzes, an opportunity to develop networks of connections with developers from the North and North-East.

* Peter H. Appel the Administrator for DOT's Research and Innovative Technology Department with whom we had the occasion to exchange a few ideas is also "to blame" for the research.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

March 27 Service Changes & Potential Alternatives via TransitGuru

Port Authority recently released changes to the routes scheduled for March 27, 2011. While Port Authority did their best to minimize damage, these changes are a net 15% reduction in service hours from current service and some areas do have major reductions or route eliminations. This post will summarize the changes and show alternatives where applicable. While it may be more difficult, I believe many alternatives are valid alternatives that would be doable for a majority of people affected by the reductions. Nonetheless, this situation is not ideal and you should contact your legislators and governor. The idea of the Transit Development Plan (TDP) was to match ridership demand with existing service hours. While nearly all routes will assume TDP route numbers and names, this round of service changes is not the best way to serve the region due to the reduced service levels due to reduced funding. Port Authority is discussing with elected officials and hopes this would be a temporary measure until dedicated, growing, and sustainable funding is secure. I encourage you to do the same and express your concerns. Be specific and explain why you need your bus route, evening or weekend service and that you support a sustainable, growing, and predicable funding stream for Port Authority.

This list will be a route by route summary of what will be happening regarding the March service changes. Italic text shows an alternative means to access an area where a route has been discontinued or reduced. It will also be noted if any of the alternative transportation options are not open to the public and only serves a segment of riders (such as employees, etc.). The reason I wanted to write this is to not only help riders to find alternatives to getting to locations where service is impacted, but also to encourage support for our transit system among our choice riders, despite service reductions due to the transit funding crisis. Hopefully as people are aware of the importance of our transit system, more will want increased funding so that Port Authority (and other transit agencies in the state) can reverse these cuts and even plan for expansion beyond the full Transit Development Plan.

Read the details here.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Four must-read blog posts about transit

One month and a few days before the projected 15% transit service cuts on March 27th – one organization that does not get much love from riders nowadays is the local ATU 85. ACTC member Stu Strickland explains on his blog “Why there is no love for ATU 85”.

Also from Stu’s blog a post written  a while ago but very actual:

And nowadays he is far from being alone. Michigan University’s Susan Zielinski was recently quoted on twitter as stating that :  “having to own 5 cars is so last millennium!”.  A study quoted by the Infrastructurist indicates that:

This is why, last but not least I’d like to point out  a post by Graham Brownstein  “Top 10 Reasons to Invest in Tansit”  ( via  @TRanspo_Issues on twitter.)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Pittsburgh Transit: Headed Where?/ February Updates

The bus schedules effective March 27th as a result of a 15% cut in service are now posted on the Port Authority's Website: March  27 Service Changes.

Monday, February 14th, President Obama released a new six-year transportation plan [PDF] . One of the highlights of this new plan is a 127% increase for transit funding that aims to reduce the gap between the percentage of funds going for highway and road development, 80% now, a meager 20% for transit. Under the newly proposed plan highways will only receive 74% of funds.

Meantime transit agencies across the country struggle to find the funding resources that will allow them to survive during the next fiscal year. And this is no news for Port Authority riders who are facing the loss of more than one sixth of the service come March. As a matter of fact, Pittsburghers rallied the day after President Obama’s release of the new transportation plan to protest service cuts.

Photo Credit: Lauren Daley

Since transit is an essential feature in the economic development of 21st century urban centers (and this is a topic we had covered here), members of the Allegheny County Transit Council became involved in several projects aimed at not only preserving but improving transit service for Pittsburgh and surrounding urban areas.

Real-Time Bus Schedules:
Real-Time Bus Schedules use data provided by local governments and transit agencies to keep riders informed of delays, detours, and traffic and trip connections. ACTC members Ana Bayne and Michael Sypolt took part in a live chat session where guest Nick Grossman from Open Plans discussed the benefits of real-time bus schedules and the success of the project among MTA riders. Several ACTC members will meet with Mr. Grossman and other developers to discuss real-time schedule related technology during the March East TranspoCamp unconference.

On the upside, before the whole GPS issue is clarified, CMU’s transportation project team Traffic 21 is in the last stages of launching a smart phone app that provides real time information to riders by using crowdsourcing, i.e., data collected from riders. Thanks to ACTC member Noelle Badertscher we will be able to return with more details on the app as soon as March. Until then you can check the Traffic 21 website for updates.

Soon transit riders from Pittsburgh will know whatever their bus is late or not or if they should take an early bus because of bad weather or traffic conditions.


ACTC members are working on proposals for funding resources with several other community oriented non-profits. Also, by the end of February, a comprehensive map that provides information on service cuts for each electoral district will be available on:

The map allows riders to compare the effect of service cuts on their own electoral district and take the matter into their own hands by contacting their local representative.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Riding transit with children and having fun...

If we would try to debunk transit related myths the one myth we would deal often when parents are involved is that transit and kids are definitely not a match. Because…
Why? Because it is not safe, buses stink and you may expose your children to unwanted social influences… Or simply because children and transit it isn’t fun …

Michael Sypolt however, disagrees:

“Yesterday, I decided to take my five year old twin girls out to Phipps via
transit. Looking at the title, you might say, how can a day be "beautiful" when
trying to take five year old girls on mass transit. Even more interestingly, I
took them out alone while my wife was having some much needed time away from the children. The day was really enjoyable, for both Dad and the children.”

Monday, February 14, 2011

@PGHtransit –how social media can change your transit experience

I wanted for some time now to write a few words about my experience with @PGHtansit , Port Authority’s tweep [1]. But, as there were more important transit issues such as the TDP changes, service cuts or the funding crisis, I kept on postponing it.   And I postponed it until…I got to read an article about The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority  and how transit providers shall not to use social media. And I realized that I can write a blog post from which WMATA can actually learn – not from me, but from PATs tweep.
So what does @PGHtransit do to make my transit experience better?
·         Acknowledges my questions: even when it does not have an answer, it still tries to work with me on either clarifying the issue or finding a way to help me figure out a solution. When I asked for sidewalks, I was explained why the Port Authority is not able to help me with sidewalk paving and also I was told what authority I may want to contact.
·         Courtesy: even stupid questions deserve an answer.
·         It is effectively helpful: I asked @PGHtransit why the new route 48 did not stop at a previous 51A stop. I was explained how the TDP impacted not only routes but also stops and why the Port Authority is behind with changing stop signs.  I pointed out to @PGHtransit how the old sign got both a new resident and I confused. And if someone like me who rode in the local transit network for several years is expected to know how to keep track of stop changes, for new residents and visitors it is more difficult to figure it out. As a result – the sign was changed.
And the reason why @PGHtransit was able to effectively help –
·         It connects with the riders and other tweeps: One sad fact is that many customer service departments and social media initiatives for public agencies such as WMATA and PAT are disconnected from the rider’s realities. The cause may be that good customer service is related to creating customer value and loyalty and agencies such as WMATA and PAT thought that customer value and loyalty was not an issue. Or the cause may be that riders are assumed to be somewhat stupid –after all they do not drive a car. Or…but this are only assumptions, the real issues beyond the lack of customer service quality are issues for WMATA and PAT and not for me. I can only note the difference among the bus stop related experience I mentioned above and the one I had several months after I moved to the US. I called the phone customer service number that time to ask about a bus stop that appeared on schedules and Google map but could not be found as I walked across the sidewalk. I was told with a condescending tone that there is a bus sign to indicate the bus stop –‘in this country we have those blue signs with the white writing etc.’ I had no success in convincing her that there is no bus sign so either the schedule is wrong or they need to get a bus sign up, she treated me as I had no idea what I was talking about tho I was sitting there looking for an inexistent bus stop. It did not cross that lady’s mind, or perhaps she was not trained to signal to another department that a rider had noted a discrepancy between the printed schedule and the situation in the street. But fortunately there it was social media, twitter and @PGHtransit .
So I do not have to call. I just tweet because:
·         1. I get an answer to the best of its knowledge
·         2. I get someone actually asking other departments for an answer when the answer can be found in another department.
·         3. I get an explanation on why my issue cannot be solved by PAT,  e.g. sidewalks.
·         4. I am given enough credit to be trusted that I provide information about the street, route, bus or bus stop that is as accurate as my own experience makes it. So if I tweet that I do not see the sign or I see a wrong one I am not told that I am perhaps temporarily blind because some paperwork tells us that the right sign is there.

This is why I thank @PGHtransit and because today is February 14 I’ll send it some sort of a  Valentine[2].
What about you? Do you follow @PGHtransit ? What do you think about it?

[1] Here  tweep is used for an individual’s or agency’s persona on twitter. I do not know the person beyond @PGHtransit tweets this is why she/he is called “tweep” and “it”. But I hope to know it one day…
[2] Besides the jewelry advertising and the cards my children give to their teachers and friends I am not sure if it is proper to send a valentine to a tweep, but since it is February 14th

Thursday, February 3, 2011

From a Sept. 2008 email: Privatization is coming

I came across this email I sent to someone on ACTC on September 18, 2008. With trivial modifications, I share it with the world, as it contains several still salient points.

Re: Mustio/Turzai on transit costs

How to pronounce Mark Mustio's name: Like "musty odor" without the final "der" sound. Weird, but it works.

Mike Turzai, who's my State Rep, represents Bradford Woods, but the district includes McCandless. In fact, his office is in McCandless, barely a mile from my house. It's right next door to Northland Library, an easy walk from an 11C ride (assuming you can GET to an 11C, which takes an 11D or 500 ride during the day), or a LONG walk from a 12A, about a mile and a quarter along Cumberland Road, headed west from McKnight. Hillvue Lane is the road going up into the back entrance of Northland, a block south of Cumberland. CCAC North is another quarter mile south on Perry Highway.

The two of them are cooking up a plan to de-monopolize transit in Allegheny County. As you described it, you're right, routes like the 51C, the EBA, the 61C, probably the 13A, would be kept, since ridership is high. Cross towns and lesser routes simply won't be kept, which will strand a bunch of people. Routes like the 6C do OK in ridership, but don't pack the buses, and so do not make much money. 11C the same. It's been cut way back since I moved out here.

What these guys don't realize is that, unlike what they're saying, Port Authority's spending is NOT out of control. Well, let me clarify that. What costs they CAN control are NOT out of control. Costs they CANNOT control ARE out of control: Fuel. Health care. Past commitments to future pension contributions. Those concepts do not make for good headlines, but they are reality. Those headlines especially do not sell to the Trib's/KQV's fan base.

Of course, what I've been saying (and saying and saying and getting tired of saying but I gotta keep saying it) is two things. First, that if you can get 50,000 warm bodies to buy fare and ride the system every day, who are not doing that now, the spending deficits go away. Of course some costs will have to go up as a result of putting more buses out there to meet demand, but that will actually make the system easier to use since transfers will be shorter and headways will decrease, each of which in turn will cause more people to want to use the system. The system grows itself. This is all accomplished by making the system easier to figure out how to use.

Which brings me to the second point. This is done by spending money on software and technology. That money is not being spent now, anywhere near as much as it needs to be, and what was spent years ago is being wasted because there isn't anyone available to administer that technology because they've all been laid off. Web site improvements, for instance. Delays in getting new fareboxes in place. We've had GPS on the buses for eight years but still cannot track where the buses are, because that part of the package was not purchased (it was off-the-shelf stuff in 1999) and there's nobody in the I.T. department who can implement it even if we had it now. If we had that piece, you could check on your cell phone to see if the bus you're trying to catch has already passed you or not. All of that is 1997 technology, and we're NOWHERE near getting it, because all we want to do is cut the system. Chopping it into pieces will make it all that much more difficult to implement even if we do get the money and the manpower.

Short version of the above rant: Trash the Mustio/Turzai idea.


Friday, January 28, 2011

News and Updates. January 2011

service cuts
On Wednesday January 12, Port Authority’s Board of Directors approved a 15% service cut starting with March 27th, 2011. Even though it will have a less disastrous impact on the region than the 35% service cut projected last year, it will still affect negatively many areas around Pittsburgh. If you are not sure if your bus route will be affected, Port Authority offers a detailed list on its website.

Another Board of Directors meeting was called by the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) on Friday January 28th in a last attempt to reverse the Board's previous decision regarding a 15% transit cut. ACTC president Jonathan Robinson and ACTC senior member Stu Strickland were registered speakers at this event. Stu's speech is here.

The ACTC speakers leaned towards supporting ATU's suggestion to use the $45 million temporary funding in order to cover the entire budget shortfall for this fiscal year. Under this scenario the Port Authority will have to deal with the possibility of 35% cuts come June 2011 when the current fiscal year will end. On the other side Port Authority's CEO, Steve Bland stated that a 35% cut will be devastating for the region and unavoidable since the "tea leaves aren't reading well" in terms of potential state funding.

But there was one point on which all speakers agreed : transit needs dedicated, lasting funding sources otherwise transit programs across the whole state will continue being shortchanged.

New magnetic card fare system

On the upside Port Authority’s new fare system is back on the right track to be completed by its target date – January 2012. The new system, called Connect, will use rechargeable magnetic cards. Vending points will be situated in accessible spots across Allegheny County.

We hope that the new fare system will allow riders to purchase daily passes as well. Right now a person that may consider using transit from time to time instead of driving, the current system seems to do everything to discourage them as Stu notes in : We need a Day Pass.

The new fare system will also eliminate one of the alleged causes for the T's Red Line delays during the first week of January. Wednesday Jan 26th, at the meeting called by the Allegheny County Council in an attempt to settle a dispute between the Port Authority's administration and its union, ATU made the point that January 3rd being the first weekday for a new fare delays were a very probable consequence. Inbound operators had to spend more than the allotted stop time in order to explain the new fares to cash paying riders.

Building relations with other professionals involved in developing technology solutions and alternatives for transportation

ACTC members Michael Sypolt, Ana Bayne and Stuart Strickland will attend TransportationCamp East in New York City. The event will take place March 5-6, bringing together transportation professionals, technologists and others interested in finding the best alternatives in urban transportation.

From the event's website

"Transportation is a major metropolitan issue, with direct impacts on economic strength, environmental sustainability, and social equity"[...]
"TransportationCamp will raise awareness of this opportunity and build
connections between disparate innovators in public administration,
transportation operations, information design, and software

Tweeps @lndaley, @bus15237 and @ have contributed to this story.