Port Authority Board Approves Service Cuts, Fare Hikes

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Port Authority Board of Directors voted to approve drastic service cuts and fare hikes during a meeting Wednesday morning.

Even with a modest but vocal crowd outside and a fired up board inside the meeting, nothing could stop the unanimous vote on fare hikes and a record 35 percent service cut.

The cuts would start in March, and the fare increase would go into effect on Jan. 1.

“Today’s a very dark, dark day for the Port Authority and all those who benefit from public transportation in our region,” said Steve Bland, Port Authority CEO.

With the agency facing an almost $47 million deficit, the board says it’s the only way forward.

“Many of our residents are elderly, disabled, working families, and with these proposed cuts, it will be devastating on those people’s lives,” said George Moses, of the Hill District.

“This is not a new issue, this has been going on since the beginning of the public agency of the Port Authority,” added Transit Union Director Patrick McMahon. “We have never, ever had reliable funding that we could depend on to plan for the future and keep a viable system running.”

With the failure to fund transit and other road projects through Act 44, all eyes are now on Harrisburg to step in. However, Bland was not optimistic.

“The prospects are pretty grim given the legislative turnover and what we’re hearing out of Harrisburg, but the thing our board repeated over and over is it isn’t too late if Harrisburg can act,” said Bland. “If the legislature – the out-going governor, the incoming administration – can get together and come up with a solution, we can absolutely reverse the action, but right now it doesn’t look good.”

There is a long list of neighborhoods that would lose service with the cuts, including East McKeesport, North Versailles and White Oak. There would also be drastic changes on weekends.

  • slm

    They are idiots! Port Authority is eventually going to disappear completely and will be taken over by a private company….then the high salaries, high benefits etc., will disappear right along with them. Management has destroyed a good thing and greed has even made it worse! PAT will be part of the continued downfall of the Pittsburgh region.

    • jp

      freeze pensions… renegotiate all UNION PAT employees contracts .. or lay them all off.. and start a new company if they wont agree to keep routes and 20 percent pay cuts across the board!

      • Andrew C Wagner

        Port Authority workers are not to blame! If anything, you’re blaming the victims (something sadly common in this country, in this age). Port Authority workers provide an absolutely vital service to our city and region, and deserve to earn a decent standard of living!

        47.1 million dollars is a drop in the bucket compared to the trillions spent in the last decade on bank bailouts, senseless wars, and tax cuts for the mega-rich! The State and Federal governments could come up with this and more money for transit and other necessary services if the politicians from both major parties had the best interests of working people at heart. They can write blank checks to fund never-ending wars on the other side of the planet (think about the resources involved in that), they can give the people who caused the economic crisis free no-strings-attached money to bail them out, they can drive the budget deficits through the roof with historically-large tax cuts to the ultra-rich, but they can’t find just 47.1 million dollars to make sure that working people, elderly people, young people, students, and disabled people can get to work, class, the doctor, church, or the grocery store. Disgusting!

    • Bobby

      The board needs to cut Steve Blands salary or get rid of the dead weight. He is the problem not the workers. Look into Danny boy Onerato to he got dedicated funding in the way of the drink tax and spent it on other things. Investigate Mr. Governor.

  • BPC

    A private company would be exactly what is needed, government should not even be involed in anything more than maintaining the roads. My wife rides the bus, she’ll have to find another way to work, life is tough for all. But government is not the answer

  • richardw

    I wonder if Steve Bland offered to take a cut in his $180,000+ salary to help out on this dark, dark day????

  • JDR

    I wonder if any of these “esteemed” board members had the sense or courage to question if the 10th (or so) largest public transit system in the country is really necessary for a city with just over 300,000 residents???

    • Andrew C Wagner

      Are you kidding? The Port Authority gives more than 225,000 rides every single day. Many of those people either are unable to drive or cannot afford a car. If those who use the Port Authority but do have a car are suddenly forced to drive all of the time, we’re talking about tens of thousands more cars on the roads, making your commute time significantly longer.

  • Kent

    This city can throw away millions on useless events and fireworks every 15 minutes. They can pay unlimited OT for the storm troopers to entrench downtown for 2 BS light up nights. They can throw untold millions at a basball team that hasn’t had a winning season in over a decade. They cannot however make a move that will avoid the largest envioronmental travesty since the steel industry left. They also refuse to recognize how this will impact traffic. If you cannot take the bus, you will drive, so they will be offering free parking to all of us who are now forced to drive, correct?

  • amy heilmann

    How did the President of the board vote since he is a Union leader

    • Andrew C Wagner

      The President of ATU 85 didn’t vote, he was simply at the rally and in the audience/made comments at the Board meeting.

  • Andrew C Wagner

    Anyone who is calling for a private company to replace the Port Authority is clearly completely ignorant of history. The Port Authority was created in the 1950s and 1960s precisely because of the utter failure of more than 30 different competing private transit companies (the largest of which spent more than 18 years in bankruptcy proceedings before the Port Authority finally bought it out).

    Furthermore, attacking the workers (who provide the heartbeat for this city) and their union for the budget crisis is ludicrous when you consider that this country has, all within the last decade, spent more than 1 trillion dollars killing poor people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere, spent more than 1 trillion bailing out the banks, and given massive tax-cuts to the ultra-rich, and now can’t find a paltry 47.1 million dollars to keep an already mediocre transit service running for another year.

  • whisky6

    Elminate service to Homewood.

  • dump

    I know the ATU Union president does not sit on the board, the chairman of the pat board is a Union leader for the carpenters. I bet he voted against these cuts.

  • Jeff Becker

    More handouts, more handouts! Hold your hand out and ask for more and more from taxpayers. Big salaries, overtime, pensions, low healthcare contributions and offices in the high rent district ARE the problems. All are BLOATED! Management has failed, some workers are not productive and they own too many buses. Scare tactics such as more people will drive to work clogging streets or poor people will have no way to work. Seniors will not be able to get to their doctors appointments are just false. People will adapt and probably find a better way to take care of their business. Once a government opens for business the costs always skyrocket and PAT is no different. We need a new way to do business, thie current formula simply does not work.

  • anonymous

    I know a board member, a very nice person too. In fact I worked for his company years ago. The company had over 100 employees. Raises were few and far between and usually between 25-50 an hour and the employees would be greatful. The benefits were ok, but not great. Pension? Forget about it. He sold the company for millions and that is great, but this same person is arguing for more government money for this unbelievable unefficient company. I want him to look back and see if his company could have survived with all the waste and ridiculous costs of operation. He would not have made millions, he would have been bankrupt and probably relying on PAT for rides.


    Name me one good thing Steve Bland has done since he became CEO . Since we came to Port Authority he has cut service and raised fares.Don’t forget the legislators make 76 thousand dollars, 700 a month car allowance and 160 per day housing and food . thanks for helping the people that need the help.

  • Kent

    Right, Privatize, Privatize, Privatize. Like private companies never over pay executives or throw funds away on useless ideas. How about this; Socialize, Socialize, Socialize. Grow up and get off the BS capitalist train. It is derailed, just open your eyes.

  • Level Green

    I would like some official to present an argument on what the problems are with PAT and not simply whine about the lack of funding. Before any more good money is thrown after bad, what are the problems?

    The mission of PAT is not to provide jobs, it is to provide affordable transit service. If they are running routes are not “cost effective”, then those routes should be eliminated. They days of PAT being a full service carrier with busses taking 3 people to the malls is over.

    PAT needs to be right-sized to provide great service during the morning and evening rush hours but limited or no service to the malls and shopping outlets outside of those hours. People will have to adjust to that new strategy.

    WE JUST CAN”T AFFORD THE SAME-OLD PAT SOLUTION ANYMORE and that’s a fact no matter where the money comes from. Only narrow minded people think money grows on trees…….

  • Joe George

    All of you wanting to save public transportion do the talk but not the walk. Maybe next time you will VOTE. Dan would never let PAT go down without a fight. But Corbett will just say bye, bye, just as many of those posting here.

    • Andrew C Wagner

      Onorato is a coward. His solution to the funding crisis is to tax working people (the Drink Tax), and not the rich, who pull his and his party’s strings.


  • richardw

    Boy George, did you ever think that maybe Corbett was voted in because millions of PA residents are tired of paying for things that only a few hundred thousand ever use? If PAT can’t sustain itself then it needs to go.

  • Burgnerdman

    A very loud voice spoke a couple of weeks ago in the voting polls. The people in this region (ie Pennsylvania) want smaller government. It is the will of the people.
    When you tie tax dollars up in funding ridiculous things, you also tie government to knowing more info about it’s citizens to which the funding is spent. I don’t know about that. The job of the federal government is to protect it’s citizens, provide emergency services, and enforce law. Not pay a bus driver at 10pm, with an empty bus, flying down Smithfield St.
    Think about all the spending that occured in 2000 and after. Did we need to spend 1Billion dollars on two new stadiums that are owned by multi-millionairs. Not to mention, most of the city residence can’t afford to go to the games.
    You think that dumping money into PAT is such a wise Idea?

  • alex

    remember ,dan gave the bus drivers a sweetheart contract last time, that they can retire before the end of it, with full benefits for LIFE . it ends next year and there will be a sucking sound so loud coming from the authority, from the drivers wanting to leave, that you should hold onto your hat or wig on because the wind will be blowing at hurricane strength.

  • Anon

    I think that Pittsburgh’s transit should not run for one week, and let people in the region see the importance of public transportation.

    A city like Pittsburgh needs a good transit system. The unfortunate thing is that Pittsburgh’s topography is such that there is not a straight line between points. There are three rivers and a number of streams, runs and creeks that have to be traversed.

    If we want to move forward, we have to streamline our resources. Why not make the busway into a rail line? Trains can run on little electricity and by expanding the busway system, you can connect downtown’s T train all the way to Swissvale. From there, put in your feeder lines. Create transportation centers in outlying cities like Monroeville, Murrysville, Ross Twp and such. The T extends to MtLebanon, so much of the west/south area is covered in Allegheny County.

    Just a few thoughts that I hope the board ponders.

  • tax payer

    It is correct that the Port Authority took over many private companies. The simple truth is that Public transportation is not practicle form a business standpoint. The best way to solve this is to reorganize like the air traffic controller of the 1980’s.
    Rehire everyone at a lower salary, no health insurance or pensions.
    Eliminate Free rides and switch to smaller buses on less busy routes.

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