Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Board of Port Authority approves 15% cuts for March 2011

The Port Authority’s Board of Directors approved today a 15% service cut for March 2011.
As you may recall, in 2010 Port Authority’s budget shortfall and lack of funding lead to a proposed 35% cut in service for March 2011. However, in December 2010, former Governor Ed Rendell provided a $45 million temporary funding solution for the Port Authority and on December 13th the SPC approved the transfer of funds to the Port Authority.
Since the $45 million covers the shortfall for this fiscal year ( June 2010 to June 2011) only, the Port Authority faced a tough decision on how to best use these funds. And as the Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors , Guy Mattola pointed out , the Port Authority only had two options : (1) Postpone the 35% service cut to July 17 2011 or (2) restore 20% of the service that was supposed to be cut on March 17 by cutting only 15% of service and thus stretch the $45 million over 18th months. According to Vice Chairman Mattola the Board’s decision was based on whatever the Board had grounds to believe that additional funding will be provided in July of this year or not.
Our own president, Jonathan Robinson noted that any cuts were contrary to the intent of the funding solution provided by former governor Rendell who hoped to maintain service as is until further funding sources could be found by governor Corbett. Mr. Robinson also expressed his concern about the negative impact that cutting service will have on Port Authority’s already tainted public image, but he admitted that there is no guarantee form Governor Corbett that there will be any additional state funding in six months.
Amalgamated Transit Union President Pat McMahon stated that legislators need to be forced to come up with a funding solution and that we should let legislators tell to public transit riders in Pittsburgh that they do not deserve decent service.
Board Member Jeffrey L. Letwin noted that the board had to consider the best solution for the region and that their job is to prevent the catastrophic impact of a 35% cut.
But even a 15% cut will have a significant impact on the region. Even though only 29 routes will have to be eliminated instead of almost 50, this still represents an estimated ridership loss of 11,000 - 13,000 passenger trips per weekday. Also the Port Authority will have to eliminate 265 jobs, though it will try to limit job elimination to vacancies and retirements. [1] And cuts will not only affect riders, but drivers as well since there will be more cars on the road, more traffic, more congestion and longer commute times. And an increase in traffic will also affect air quality, an environmental issue that Pittsburgh worked on solving since the steel mills closings in the 1980s …This is why no matter if you ride a bus or drive, as long as you live in the Pittsburgh Metro region, you will be affected by these cuts too.
This is why as Board Member Richard W. Taylor stated, these cuts shall only be temporary cuts until the region will find a solution for more funds and service will be restore.
We express the hope that the riders and their representatives, the Port Authority, ATU and local and state legislators will be able to work together to find a solution for dedicated, sustainable funding for public transportation in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County.

[1] We will return with a post on the specific routes that will be affected by the cuts.

Special thanks to @lndaley for her live tweets from the meeting. This blog post would not have been possible without the information she tweeted. And go and get your Pittsburgh City Paper now!

No comments:

Post a Comment