Downtown Partnership Calls For Help In Solving Transportation Crisis

By: Jon Greiner

The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership is warning of dire results if the state legislature doesn’t find a way to fund mass transit in the next few months.

Three years ago, Gov. Ed Rendell stood at the Wood Street T Station to announce that the state had found a way to fund $472 million in mass transit and road and bridge projects.

But that involved tolling I-80, which the federal government stopped the state from doing, and no other funding source was found.

The CEO of the partnership says if funding isn’t found, the Port Authority will cut 35 percent of its current service, on top of previous cuts that were made.

Michael Edwards says that will lead to 5,200 more vehicles on downtown streets each day, which will mean more competition for parking, possibly higher parking rates, more commute time, more pollution and employers eventually unable to find enough people to work at their downtown locations.

He added ‘”these same employers may begin to look outside downtown for a better business environment in which to operate, causing a downward pressure on office rents, decreasing property values and eventually reduced property taxes paid to the city of Pittsburgh.”

The partnership has created a website where people can contact their state representatives in order to urge them to fund mass transit. Click here for the link.

A couple of ideas for funding include allowing some private business interests into mass transit and again bringing up the idea of tolling I-80.

Comments

One Comment

  1. nancydrew says:

    The last thing I want to see happen is for Pittsburgh to turn into a mini Chicago with toll booths everywhere. Why can’t we use lottery and gambling funds to help fund the pension and transportation issues? And furthermore, why can’t the state take over PAT?

    1. redrock100 says:

      wwaahhh wwwaaaahhhhh

  2. jeanduncan says:

    PAT NEEDS TO STOP OVER-SPENDING.

  3. walkingtowork says:

    Port Authority always cries poor. I’m sure if they had a little competition, the funds would magically appear. If the Pittsburgh partnership truly wants “help” in solving the transportation crisis, let another carrier into the PAT monopoly.

    1. Jack Ewing says:

      Ba ck in the Forties & Fiftie public transportation was funded by private outfits. It wasn’t long befoe they all went bust!

      1. RICH says:

        VERY SMART MAN ,,,LET THESE YOUNG FOLK UNDERSTAND THAT PRIVATIZATION WOULD NOT WORK,,,,YOU WOULD HAVE THOSE DOPE HEADS AND DRUNKS DRIVING YOUR BUSES.. FOR MIN WAGE THATS WHAT YOU GET

    2. Bob E. says:

      Im with you, if they can’t make a profit when they have a monopoly on the transportation business then there is something seriously wrong with management. Offer a private transportation service the job and I guarentee they make a profit. I say let PAT die off and private business will fill the void.

  4. Megan says:

    So that’s why one of the doors was closed for a “press conference” today. Great idea, guys. Have your press conference about the transportation crisis lock people out of the station. They’re so out of touch they probably didn’t even realize that they would be disrupting the people. Psst – you’re part of the problem.

  5. Dale says:

    Until the Port Authority gets their house in order they shouldn’t get a dime. Last time they got 32 million on the beer tax sponsered by Dan Onorato. Now they need 40 to 50 million. Time to cut jobs and routes we can’t afford to bail you out again. And whats up with the guys riding around/ sitting in the red or white trucks can I get that job?

  6. Tim says:

    PAt may be the worst ran department in the county, who runs it and why are they still running it?

  7. redrock100 says:

    I’m tired of people on the bus complaining about my body odor. Yea I smell ripe, but I don’t shower so what do you expect?

  8. Before people start making comments that this is all about the Port Authority asking for a hand out again, learn the facts. Go to the site the PDP created today and look at the information. This situation resulted from the state’s applications to toll I-80 being denied (3x) Now there is a shortfall for ALL state transportation, including PennDOT. If Harrisburg doesn’t act, the Port Authority cuts will just be the first damage from the legislature’s inaction.

    Join us – http://publictransit4pittsburgh.wordpress.com/

    1. Dennis Mowrey says:

      if this is not asking for a handout then what is it? You cannot run it well enough and you need to be taken over or allow competition. Noticed how Comcast changed it tune when FiOS came into town? Maybe PAT needs the same treatment. FIRE THE WHOLE MANAGEMENT TEAM or take a pay cut!!

    2. Bob E. says:

      How can a business be profitable when the drivers get paid in excess of $25 an hour and the guys driving desks in their management offices get paid more than that.

  9. Linda Mentton says:

    You got to be kidding, you cannot pay a driver $70.00 an hour to to take a couple people on welfare to their drug dealers and expect –it will all work out or the taxpayer will pick up the tab.

    1. RICH says:

      AGAIN I WISH THE PEOPLE THAT LEAVE COMMENTS ON HERE HAD JUST A LITTLE COMMON SENSE.. I MEAN CMON 70 AN HOUR…LET ME ASK HAVE YOU EVER HAD SOMEBODY COME TO YOUR PLACE OF WORK AND SPIT ON YOU..PROB NOT.. I ASK ONLY PLEASE TRY THE JOB SINCE YOU ALL THINK ITS SO EASY AND THEN COME BACK WITH ALL YOU SARCASTIC COMMENTS

      1. Bob E says:

        Rich, common sense tells me that if you are paying out in wages more than you are bringing in then you are paying your employees too much and as for being spit on I used to be a police officer and I have had people do a lot worse than spit on me and I was paid a hell of a lot less than a bus driver.so if you can’t handle a little drool, quit and find yourself a real job in the real world.

  10. Fran says:

    I ride the bus of a a regular basis & my bus is always crowded; & I’ve seen several buses crowded on a regular bases. If there’s no money to operate the system, why is there construction still going on? If you have no money to operate the system; who’s going to use the projects you’re constructing? Someone once mentioned that not all the money collected from the drink tax went to PAT; where did this money go. If PAT has no money, all those at the top should take a pay cut.

    1. RICH says:

      see fran this is where youo are wrong not all of that money went to pat GET TO KNOW YOUR FACTS BEFORE YOU OPEN YOUR TRAP

  11. Construction still happens because it designated “CAPITAL” money by the federal gov’t so it can only be used for buying buses (see the article on our blog Federal Funds for Broken Buses)

    As for the drink tax- that money is at a set limit by the county. Even if they receive more from the bars and restaurants PAT only gets about $27M annually. (see Disappearing Drink Tax)

    Jack Ewing is correct about the privatization and asking for competition. Port Authority was established in the 50s as a result of that. See the History of Port Authority website.

    Everyone is still missing the fact that this is about more than just Port Authority. This will affect our roads and many bridges too. Listen to a radio show from the Downtown Partnership just last month with Dan Cessna from PennDOT:
    [audio src="http://www.downtownpittsburgh.com/_files/docs/september-dt-view.mp3" /]

    As Rich said – know your facts first – if you want to know keep informed –
    Join Us! http://publictransit4pittsburgh.wordpress.com/

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  13. Zoeyzotron says:

    PUBLICTRANSIT – It is exactly that, a handout. Why should their be a damn tax on I80 to pay for inflated union wages and benefits. Welcome to the recession Mr. union man….

  14. PAT Critic says:

    For all of you, here are some more excellent comments on the “bottomless pit” Port Authority, as taken from the Pittsburgh Tribune Review:

    Lance: To keepPGHmoving.com . Says this newly formed “coalition,” including the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership and the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, created to lobby for a “funding solution” for mass transit: “Unfortunately, the federal government did not approve the tolling of I-80, which contributed to this funding crisis.” What’s really “unfortunate” is that this group leaves out this little fact — tolling I-80 would have been illegal.

    Instead of lobbying Harrisburg for more money to throw down a rathole, the group should be demanding fundamental changes in how mass transit is delivered, including the elimination of unionized transit’s biggest cudgel — its strike threat. That truly would keep Pittsburgh moving.

    Lance: To Dan Onorato. What a hoot to see the lame-duck Allegheny County executive fancy himself as something of an “honest broker” in the Port Authority funding/service crisis. After all, this is the same fella who, along with then-Gov. Ed Rendell, worked overtime to preserve union bloat in past contracts in furtherance of their political aspirations. That’s left mass transit in dire need of another kind of aspiration.

    Lance: To Patrick McMahon. Talk about a dishonest broker. The first “deal” offered by the head of the local transit union to “fix” the crisis was one big honkin’ poison pill designed to give a wee bit now in return for restoring and/or preserving tons of union sludge and crud in a new contract to be negotiated next year. Good-faith bargaining? Try bad-faith snookering.

    I honestly believe this “newly formed” coalition, Keep Pittsburgh Moving, in all probability is being funding by the PAT and the union. I think the Tribune Review should investigate that organization and publish those facts as well. The Port Authority is a giant waste of tax payer dollars!

  15. Tip Top says:

    Cut it all!!! They are wasting a vast amount of taxpayer dollars. They are wasting Federal and State dollars not to mention a drink tax that should have never been inacted. Where does it stop? There is no more money!!

  16. Donny says:

    What about the tremendous cost of the tunnel under the river? Five hundred Million dollars and still climbing? That’s a half billion dollars of taxpayer money wasted!! Where does it stop?

  17. Realist says:

    Port Authority ridership has fallen by nearly 40 percent since it peaked in 1975, a decline that outpaces the county’s 20 percent population loss over that time.

    They should have been downsizing through attrition yearly to compensate for the declines instead of bleeding the taxpayers for more money year after year to keep and increase political patronage jobs and an antiquated system in place. It was like pouring money down a bottomless pit.

    The money can be better spent on roads, bridges and other transportation projects.

    One thing is for sure. I would never hire any of these people for my business that are involved with the politically funded sympathizer group Keep Pittsburgh Moving. They should get their heads out of the sand and face reality.

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