Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Testimony at the Port Authority Hearing 2/29 (II)

The following testimony was given by Josh Savage, a young prospective member of ACTC who is also the current treasurer of the Millvale Borough Development Corporation – representing Millvale residents seeking to “stabilize, revitalize and rejuvenate Millvale’s neighborhoods, through the development of housing, businesses and skills of individuals.”

"Good afternoon and thank you for allowing me this time to speak,

My name is Josh Savage and I am the Treasurer for the Millvale Borough Development Corporation as well as a frequent rider of the 2 Mt. Royal, 1 Freeport Rd, G2 west Busway, and 29 Robinson.

Having a strong Public Transportation network is essential to having a strong economy. Without the above listed buses I would have no way to get to work as I have neither the inclination nor the financial assets to buy a car. These circumstances are not unique to me; if the buses that service the suburbs and outlying areas are terminated then thousands of people will be unable to get to work.

Not only will this negatively impact existing jobs and businesses but it will stymie the growth of future businesses and jobs in not only the surrounding areas but also downtown. If you were a business owner would you open up a location in an area you knew people would have a hard time getting to? I brought up this issue at a board meeting for the MBDC last month and one of our members asked what was the point of doing all this work to attract people to our community if they wouldn't be able to get here. Millvale is fortunate in the fact that we are close to downtown and can walk or bike there if need be but what about Glenshaw, or the people in Ambridge?

Many people say that the buses do not matter and people will simply buy cars and get around that way. Can you imagine what the already congested roadways would look like if you added another 2,000 cars to the mix let alone 20,000? Not to mention the devastating effect that increase in traffic would have on not only our already overburdened infrastructure but also our air quality.

PennDOT has already been scheduled to spend $306 million on road projects this year in our part of the state; now imagine that amount doubling. How much do you think people will like driving when the road is packed with even more potholes and car accidents increase? This will lead to an increase in insurance premiums, the cost of gas, and car maintenance fees. This in turn will result in people having even less money to inject into the economy. So tell me, how can you have a thriving and diverse economy if the majority of a person’s income is going into their car?

I understand that these reductions in service are not entirely the fault of the Port Authority. However, it is not simply a result of the state government not giving you enough money. The bus system is viewed as unreliable by many people. I myself have experienced buses coming either 12 minutes early, 12 minutes late, or sometimes never coming at all. I understand that sometimes outside factors such as traffic or breakdowns cause these problems but steps need to be taken to increase reliability and timeliness. If you fix these problems more people will use the bus and your revenues will go up."

Monday, March 5, 2012

Testimony at the Port Authority Hearing 2/29 (I)

Several community leaders, ACTC members, public transit advocates, activits and many ordinary citizens had braved the bad weather last Wednesday 2/29 and came to testify in front of the Port Authorty Board. Some spoke about their transit needs, but most addressed the needs of their communities and the needs of the whole urban region.

Because we feel there is a need for a broader audience to hear the point of views expressed at the hearing we will try to publish a few testimonies as well as links to the articles covering the hearing.

We shall start with an excerpt from our vice-president's speech , Stu Strickland :

"Honorable members of the Board, and Mr. Bland, good afternoon, I am Stuart Strickland, from McCandless Township, a regular rider of the O12 McKnight Flyer, 12 McKnight and soon to be cut 2 Mount Royal bus routes. I already lost my Perry Highway routes in the 2011 service cuts and so walk most of a mile each way to get a bus every day.

As every properly informed person in the room knows, PAT didn’t cause this problem, state government did, through its persistent refusal to accept that public transportation does require tax subsidy to run properly. As every properly informed politician knows, spending money on public transit actually earns money for the state in allowing the wheels of commerce to turn efficiently in the denser urban areas that generate most of the state’s revenues. But the misinformed and willfully ignorant are in power at the moment, so here we are."

... read more on his blog Anything but the Car.