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.


  1. You guys should have made this two different blogs.

    Bottom line, Port Authority said if they would obtain the $47 million, they would not need to do layoffs nor would they have to cut service by 35%. They got $45 of that $47 million, and that last $2 Million was 15% of service? That's nuts!

    On top of which, the Allegheny County Pored Drink Tax brought in $4 Million more than what it projected. The Drink Tax was made to raise money for the Port Authority opposed to pulling money out of the General Budget. So that missing $2 million could have easily been covered by the drink tax surplus!

    Sadly, many will not be able to agree with Port Authority's and SPC's logic, and will feel that the Port Authority is simply playing a shell game at the taxpayer's expense. A draconian decision to make while the State is $4 Billion in the hole plus led by a Republican Leadership!

    My sympathy goes out to the riders who rely on this service as well as those who will be loosing their jobs in the process.

  2. Pittsburgh Storm
    PAT needed $47 million for this fiscal year that ends June 2011. (It was stressed in previous posts that shortfall refers to fiscal year June 2010-June 2011).PAT had a budget shortfall for many years - and for years the state government came with temporary solutions instead of a solid, dedicated funding alternative. Pat will have the same shortfall next year unless there will be more transit funding in the state budget for 2011-2012 than it was until now.
    Choice 1: use all $45 million until end of June, do not cut service at all and hope new state government will approve a budget with more transit funding than the previous. If funding is at last year’s level or lower, cut 35% service in July.
    Choice 2. Use $45 million over 2 fiscal years – so $22.5 per year. Cover less than half of shortfall and manage to cut service by only 15%. Give government 18 months to realize the importance of transit and hope that by then the state government will realize the importance of transit in the next year and a half.
    We do not imply that Steve Bland made the right choice. In fact to an extent ACTC members agree with ATU that a 35% cut shall have such a severe impact on the region that it will force state government to find a solution. But most ACTC members understand that PAT’s executives and board of directors did not approve a 15% service cut based on a whim or secret agenda but based on a real budget shortfall.
    And if you have any other information to support the implicit assumption that PAT will not have to worry about the $47 million budget shortfall in fiscal 2011-2012 , please do share it with us.