PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Despite last-minute pleas for more negotiation time, the Port Authority is now set to put in place drastic cuts to bus service beginning today.
The transit union wanted one more week to negotiate concessions that might stop plans to cut 15 percent of Port Authority bus routes, 29 routes in all and 180 jobs; however, the Port Authority Board rejected that offer and the cuts will take place starting Sunday. To see more about the changes, click here.
Another protest outside of Port Authority offices on Sixth Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh Saturday failed to persuade board members to delay cutting service.
Thousands of people will lose what they consider their lifeline to work, school and elsewhere.
“People [are] not going to be able to get to work; they’re not going to be able to get to where they need to go,” said Leanne Trautman, a bus rider. “This city has to have public transportation.”
The transit union had offered some $18 million in concessions, but negotiators – led by Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato – said that wasn’t enough.
When asked by the union head for another week to negotiate, the Port Authority Board said no, which prompted an outburst.
“I’ll tell you right now, they don’t care about people,” said Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85 President Pat McMahon. “Not only their employees who are going to be on the street on Monday; they don’t care about the citizens of this county who they are supposed to be serving.”
Port Authority CEO Stephen Bland said it was time to take action.
“There were some calls for maybe one additional week to see if we can work something out, but frankly, this issue’s been out there for two and a half months, so we think it’s time to move on,” said Bland.
The Port Authority did okay a private company’s plan to take over routes in Marshall Township and Franklin Park, but it’s thought that most other routes are not profitable enough to be taken over by private companies.
Meanwhile, many bus riders say they’re confused over what they’re supposed to do when the cuts at put in place.
Although the cuts take effect today, the biggest change is likely to be on the first business day after the cuts, Monday, when there’s likely to be lots of frustration and confusion.