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