Protest Held Over Public Transportation Privatization Proposal
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – More than three dozen members of the union representing Port Authority drivers and mechanics, spent their morning rallying against a proposal to turn over two bus routes to a private operator.
Lenzner Coach Lines of Sewickley is seeking approval to offer rush hour bus service from the northern suburbs into downtown. It would replace the Port Authority’s 13J and 13K service, which is slated to be terminated on March 27.
The company is proposing an offering of five routes each during the morning and afternoon rush hours, using its own bus fleet and drivers.
Union leaders are instead likening the plan to union-busting.
“[Port Authority CEO] Steve Bland’s big plan all along has been to bust this union,” said Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85 President Patrick McMahon. “These are jobs in demand, or else the private people wouldn’t be here.”
Lenzner President Charles Lenzner outlined the takeover proposal during a public hearing at the Port Authority offices downtown.
“This was brought to our attention by the public of the need of this service because of the elimination of the runs,” Lenzner said.
Lenzner said the buses would run at regular intervals beginning at 5:30 a.m. from the Bladerunners parking lot in Warrendale, and at 5:40 a.m. from the Warrendale park-and-ride facility.
Morning service would continue until 7:40 a.m., and resume from 3:45 p.m. until 6 p.m.
The proposal calls for two downtown bus stops along Penn Avenue, at 5th and 6th Avenues.
Unlike Port Authority service, ticketing would be done on a reservation basis, with one-way fares costing between $5 and $6.25.
Currently, riders pay $3.25 each way, although the Port Authority said the per-rider operating cost of the 13J and 13K service is as much as $5.50.
The agency is set to make a decision on the plan by March 25.
PROPOSED LENZNER SCHEDULE
Departing from Bladerunners to downtown ($6.25/each way)
Departing from Warrendale park-and-ride to downtown ($5/each way)
Returning from 5th and Penn downtown:
Returning from 6th and Penn downtown: