Friday, April 27, 2012

Port Authority's Board approves new round of cuts and fare hikes as a result of budget woes, funding crisis





             Port Authority's Board approved record service cuts this morning. The service cuts, along with a fare increase in July, are for now the only solution to a $64 million budget shortfall in the Port Authority's operating budget. As we all know, the Agency cannot run a deficit budget, so each time there is a budget deficit and no other solution, it has to cut service hours in order to be able to balance its budget. Unless the Port Authority, the state, and local governments find a solution to the agency's budget shortfall, the 35% service cuts will become reality on September 2.  
The pink area on this map represents the area where ACCESS
service will be cut. (map by M.Sypolt @TransitGuru)

The reality of the service cuts in numbers:
  • 46 of  Port Authority's 102 routes will be eliminated
  • 40,000 rides will be lost, leaving thousands  of riders stranded
  • ACCESS coverage will be significantly reduced
  • 600 lost jobs
  • 18 park and rides will no longer be served
  • no service past 10 p.m. (with the exception of very few routes )
More than half of Port Authority's funding comes from the state. PA Governor Tom Corbett was expected to come up with a legislative solution providing the comprehensive, dedicated funding the Agency needs in order to cover its budget shortfall and eventually, grow service in the region. But Governor Corbett has yet to take a position on the recommendations to funding transportation proposed by the Transportation Funding Advisory Commission (TFAC), which Corbett himself appointed last year. A state-wide solution is needed to pay for badly needed repairs to bridges and roads, as well as ongoing costs to provide mass transit service in the dozens of Pennsylvania's public transit systems. The TFAC's several recommendations for funding solutions for transit have largely been ignored.

In an interview with KDKA's Political Editor Joe Delano, yesterday evening, Governor Corbett stated that in order for the state government to step up with a funding solution for the Port Authority : "...they have to take a look at where they are spending and, as I said, they have to sit down and talk to the unions.”.

Pat McMahon, ATU85's president said this morning that the union is willing to negotiate concessions, but not before the state government comes up with an explicit funding solution. He noted that the union offered concessions before based on a promised funding solution from the state and it was the state that failed to come through with a comprehensive, dedicated funding solution for public transit in Pittsburgh. (As a reminder: The former legislative solution at the state level, Act 44 of 2007, failed to provide the necessary funds for the transportation budget when the Federal Government blocked the tolling of I-80).

It looks like Governor Corbett and ATU85 are at a roadblock right now in their efforts to stop the service cuts, but at least McMahon did not lose his sense of humor as he noted that unions are not "ATMs who can be wrung for more cash every time politicians fail to live up to their responsibilities." Unfortunately, the Pittsburgh region stands to lose a lot more than its sense of humor if the service cuts take effect in September and, as Port Authority CEO Steve Bland noted, the Board decision is reversible but the impact of the cuts on the region is not. Steve Bland also pointed out that the only missing piece from the "puzzle", a solution to Port Authority's operating budget shortfall, is a state funding solution. 


This blog post was made possible by the tweet-contributions of Lauren Daley (@lndaley) and Jon Schmitz (@pgtraffic). Read their pieces on today's Port Authority Board decision on the City Paper's website : "Port Authority approves transit cuts...hopes to reverse itself" and respectively, the Pittsburgh  Post-Gazette: "Port Authority board approves deep cuts".

3 comments:

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  2. Funding Advisory Commission (TFAC), which Corbett himself appointed last year. A state-wide solution is needed to pay for badly needed repairs to bridges and roads, as well as ongoing costs to provide mass transit service in the dozens of Pennsylvania's public transit systems.

    Well these financial crisis are every where but hope for good.


    Port Authority
    Port Authority Polo Shirts

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  3. Thanks for this post.
    Port Authority's Board approves new round of cuts and fare..

    Gildan Polo

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