Protest Held Over Public Transportation Privatization Proposal

By: Jim Lokay

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.


Departing from Bladerunners to downtown ($6.25/each way)

5:30 a.m.
6 a.m.
6:30 a.m.
7 a.m.
7:30 a.m.

Departing from Warrendale park-and-ride to downtown ($5/each way)

5:40 a.m.
6:10 a.m.
6:40 a.m.
7:10 a.m.
7:40 a.m.

Returning from 5th and Penn downtown:

3:45 p.m.
4:15 p.m.
4:45 p.m.
5:30 p.m.
6:00 p.m.

Returning from 6th and Penn downtown:

3:48 p.m.
4:18 p.m.
4:48 p.m.
5:33 p.m.
6:03 p.m.


Warrendale Bus Service May Continue
Riders March Against Latest Round Of Port Authority Cuts

Port Authority, Union Remain At Odds Over Possible Cuts
More Port Authority News


Port Authority
Lenzner Tour And Travel


One Comment

  1. Honestly says:

    People picked up outside of Allegheny County should be paying the non-subsidized rate

    1. denise says:

      I just get a feeling that this is a scam to get the fares raised. Because if a private company was really trying to take business away from the public union they would lower the price, not increase it. The fares are ridicules.

      1. Chuck says:


        I hate to inform you, the prices Lenzer will charge is the cost to run busines. Fortunatly, all mass transit systems across the U. S. are partially funded, to make it affordable for you to use it. SAD,buut true.

  2. josh says:

    State-enforced private monopolies = fascism, by definition (look it up folks)

    Port authority is a private company and should have to compete with other companies. If their employees don’t like another company being brought in to do the job Port Authority is failing to do, then they should take it up with their own board of execs.

    The general consensus among Port Authority drivers I have spoken with is that the executive leadership is totally incompetent and detached from reality, and the only reason they are still in business is because they have a sweetheart deal with the city. That needs to end.

    Bring in competition, and force Port Authority to prove that it can do a better job. Then maybe we can get some decent public transportation in this city. It’s called the free market, it’s this thing we used to have back in the 1800’s.

    Also, maybe if Port Authority wasted a little less money on its private security goon force (aka the Port Authority Police) it would have more funding to provide the basic services that are required and expected, and pay its employees a proper wage.

  3. DeBor says:

    I definitely think we need another bus company here. We need competition. Port Authority needs to restructure or get out.

    1. Chuck says:


      You need to reseach instead of listening to the spin from radio stations. It will be an eye-opener for you,guaranteed.

  4. Ken says:

    When I was growing up in the 60s and 70s we have excellant bus service throughout the City of Pittsburgh. You could travel in any direction using the bus to bus transfer system. Now it seems as if the Port Authority is all about retirement golden parachutes, limited service, poor customer relationship and just waiting for the next opportunity to “cry wolf” and get another bail out from the tax payers. C’mon the people expect more then this or change it

    1. denise says:

      If these guys were really threatened they were have a lot more protesting than a few hundred, oops my bad, they’re all in Madison, howling for more money for the teachers again.

  5. A.Bunker says:

    Typical union idiots. Looking out for themselves rather than the community at large. If Lenzner is willing to pick up the ball and provide service when PAT eliminates it, what the hell does the union have to get involved for? Who cares what they think? These unions better realize that their gravy train has pulled into its station and these unions are facing the end of their useful lives.

    1. Chuck says:

      A. Bunker

      Do your research before listening to the spin from radio stations.If you like Lenzer, thats great, but I would bet you will pay double the cost for your trip, and good luck transfering to another PAT bus, but lessions are hard learned sometimes, and as a former driver, I am still looking for that Golden Parachute to come my way. Could you please send it to central Pa where I now live?Just a normal working person, not a greed.

  6. GEORGE MILLER says:


    1. denise says:

      We have to bust up the monopolies on business. Years ago we only had AT&T for phone serve or NBC< CBS< ABC for television, we can have it all if we stop only those on the top from always having control. It's time the Unions take a walk, we don't need union leaders, we have laws for equal protection. TIMES HAVE CHANGED< this is the 21st century.

    2. Chuck says:

      Hey George
      You did not comment on all the other mass transit cities in dire need like the Port Authority. Did you listen to too much SPIN on the local radio statioins?What about State College who just had grastic cuts in service?Or Septa, or Camtra?
      Why did you specifically pick the Port Authority?

      I sit possible you just hate unions of any sort??hmm

  7. Jack says:

    Drivers overpaid,
    With a pension plan so grand

    Sharpen that axe,
    Make those cuts Mr. Bland

    1. tomcat says:

      A spiteful remark from someone who doesn’t have a decent pension plan….
      Instead of wondering why we get what we do…ask why you DON’T get it

      1. denise says:

        Because your greedy ass is taking it all for yourself. What makes you any different from “those” greedy wall st fat-cats?

  8. Mr Soho says:

    It’s a pay as you use system, non-users, or a tax on drinks, should not subsidize this dinosaur of a system.

  9. Debbie says:

    we’d like competition in Penn Hills also, please?

  10. Debbie says:


  11. K. Barrett says:

    Th e Pension has been funded BY the Union, P.A.T. had a TWENTY year free ride….NO TAX PAYER monies were used….The MEMBERS contributed 4.5% of their OWN wages to create this retirement fund (a.k.a you’re 401k) Your comment of non-user doesn’t pay is completely incorrect due to higher gas prices and sitting in more traffic using it up, 1 bus = 40 less CARS on the road…..As far as a so-called “monopoly” this is the Transit system in every County and or major city, the problem is everyone want the system, but no one wants to fund it…The wages these people earn go back into the community in the form of buying houses, services, cars, food, etc they are your neighbors and people sitting next to you in the Church pew….just trying to survive like everyone else!

    1. J says:

      Yeah, the drivers put 4.5% of their BLOATED paychecks into the retirement plan. These drivers are so overpaid that it is ridiculous. If the drivers/union would wake up, they would realize that they have been overpaid for years and that they would never make this kind of money in private industry. Get rid of the union and I think you’d stop seeing routes get cut.

      1. Chuck says:


        As an ex PAT driver, I have yet to see the “BLOATED” paycheck. But maybe I`m missing something. It was the worst job of my entire life,spit on, guns pulled, irritable people, working holidays, weekends,etc. But the wage was–good,not bloated. And in the early 60`s, all private carriers were going belly-up, all across the nation. The spin on KDKA zeroes in on PAT, but what about State College that had to cut routes,and the majority of PA. Transit operations that are faced with the same dilema. KDKA wont tell you that. But ya, bust the union, and pay double, or more for that nice ride on your private carrier,if they show up.

  12. Patty Kleitz Gurske says:

    Boy, do I wish Lenzer would take over the 51B route in Baldwin! We need transport their too! Good for them!

    1. Chuck says:

      Yes,thank goodness for Lenzer. I am sure you will not mind the huge increase in fares either,let alone if a bus breaks down, the huge amount of time it may take for a replacement bus.Good luck with Lenzer

  13. Joel Feder says:

    the port authority operates like the police, fire department, public education, and road construction. it serves , or at least is supposed to serve, all areas and peoples in our community regardless of wether the routes make moneyor not. it gets your elderly grandmother to the doctors office. it gets workers who can;t afford a vehicle to their place of employment. it transports business men from upper st.clair to their plush downtown offices, while also connecting people in economically depressed communities, such as northview heights, with the outside world throughout the day. let’s not move backward toward the era before the creation of the authority,when private “profit driven” carriers were in charge. they will certainly only operate the routes that can make them money. it would not be long before the midnight routes to the poor areas, or those with lower populations, would be history. allowing competition in the county would merely siphon off profitable fully packed runs, and leave the authority with the dregs. private profit driven transit did not work in the past, and it would not work now.

  14. PAT says:


    1. Chuck says:


      Yes, you go Lenzer!. But when will you as a rider get fed up paying double, at least, if not more, will you keep smiling as you get hosed on the fares every single day? But if hate the working class, uniun workers, no doubt you will continue to pay outragous fares. HOOORAY to Lenzer!

  15. cc says:

    Sorry, but Public Transit isn’t a money maker and never has been. People here are saying Port Authority is always crying wolf for more money, well the reason for that is our so called leaders in Harrisburg have always solved the problem with band aids never actually putting forth a real plan for a dedicated funding source for roads, bridges and mass transit. And when, after all these years of band aids they finally do get legislation that would adquately fund Transportation in the state of PA (aka Act 44)….half of it gets thrown out bringing everything back to square one and still nothing being done about it while our roads bridges and mass transit is falling apart.

    As a dedicated transit rider, I dread having private companies come in here, charging…what is up to now $6.25 one way? And that’s before they even get started? Before fuel reaches $4.oo a gallon and they realize uh oh we’re not making as much as we thought on this…LOL i hope they stay away from my route (28x).

    It’s amazing people here going after people making a middle class salary, a blue collar job. And that’s all it is a middle class blue collar job. Never fails though. That’s who most people attack. Pretty disgusting. My comment to that, or for any job people catgorize as overpaid, is always, ‘if it’s so overpaid and easy why aren’t you doing it. I know PAT was hiring for years up until a little while ago. Why weren’t you going after that overpaid, easy job? Not willing or not qualified which one?” Personally i wouldn’t want the job. So i’m not willing which also means I’m not able to say what compensation they earn.

    1. Chuck says:


      iTS THE MEDIA,LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE,notice thet NEVER say anything about the other failing transit systmems of Pa?

  16. Sully says:

    Lenzner use to run the bus service to the Greater Pitt Airport—-one way from the Wm Penn Hotel—$20.00—-lets put Lenzer back in there.

  17. N. Cassidy says:

    the port authority runs a 28X from oakland to downtown pitts burgh to the airport both ways for $2.75 but I would much rather pay $20.00 Go Port Authority, you peolple just dont get it.

    1. Chuck says:


      Please do the math before you are another Port Authority hater.In the early 60`3, Almost all private carriers were going to go belly up.That is why all across this nation, not just picking the Port Authiority, we have centralized transit systems, you can transfer from one bus to another without total aggavation, and as Lenzer says, it will pick up some routes,at DOUBLE the fare of PAT. Will you be happy to pay double just to say, ha ha,PATS Union is dead?And,does Lenzer have buses to come pick you up when their coach breaks down?Also, the spin doctors especially on KDKA never mention all the other mass transit cities that are on their knees. State College just had a big reduction in service, and most others are in seroius financial difficulty. Now this is twice the local 85 has been willing to take concessions, and, what do they get, even more bad-mouthing. And if you didnt figure it out yet, yes I was a PAT driver.And the hardest job I had in my entire life. So, N.Cassidy, get your facts strait instead of ya-hooing union bustingJust an average person trying to make a living. Chuck AND, i APPLAUD YOU FOR WANTING TO PAY $20,00 TO THE AIRPORT RATHER THAN $2.75, MY NORMAL I.Q. TELLS ME ALOT DIFFERENT.asnd N. just dont get it.

  18. cc says:

    $20.00 that was probably….what 15 years ago?. What do u think it’s going to cost now? And do you think peopel that work at the airport, the janitors and service people, the fast food workers and the all the other low payed but necessary employees are going to be able to pay $20.00 one way -$40.00 round trip to get to work? Good luck with that one LOL. If you had to use that service everyday, you certainly wouldn’t be saying you’d rather pay 20.00 one way to get to work.

    1. Chuck says:

      cc-RIGHT ON!

Comments are closed.

More From CBS Pittsburgh

Play It
Get The All New CBS Local App

Watch & Listen LIVE