PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Port Authority Board of Directors today voted to cut routes and raise fares once again.

The cuts are part of an effort to balance a budget with a $64 million hole.

Outside of this morning’s board meeting, protestors voiced their objections, while inside, members of the Port Authority board voted to both cut service and increase fares.

The sign glowed behind them: “Port Authority – Dedicated to a Gold Standard of Service.”

But for thousands of riders, the service is shrinking and the gold is starting to lose its luster.

The cuts hit hard, especially those reductions in access which will leave an estimated 1,800 users stranded.

“We’re very concerned,” said Lucy Spruill, a rider. “Those 1,800 people who will not be able to leave their homes to get healthcare, to go to work, to go to school, to go to their mother’s funeral.”

Here’s the vote: fares increase July 1, they’re going to eliminate 46 of 102 bus routes, terminate service after 10 p.m. on all but 13 routes and lay off 400 to 500 drivers, mechanics and administrative staff.

All that could happen on September 2.

“And one of the directions we got as staff from the board today was plan for the cuts, but also plan not to have those cuts go about,” said Steve Bland, the Port Authority’s CEO.

A statement released today by the Port Authority reads in part: “Port Authority’s Board of Directors today voted to authorize a fare increase and 35-percent service reduction scheduled to go into effect later this year. Port Authority is legally obligated to balance its budget, and these actions are prompted by a $64 million deficit projected for the Fiscal Year 2013 operating budget.

“Today’s vote is reversible. The vote authorizes Port Authority staff to begin preparing for the changes – writing new schedules, preparing for staffing reductions and a garage closure, and other actions. While staff must prepare for the worst, the service reductions may be scaled back or rescinded entirely if Port Authority’s finances improve.”

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