PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Allegheny County officials confirm that a deal is in the works that could avoid cuts in transit service this fall.
Negotiations between state, county, and union officials to avoid a one-third cut in transit service on September 2 are underway, and it involves concessions by bus drivers that could trigger state dollars for the Port Authority.
“I think we’re all moving in the right direction,” Allegheny County executive Rich Fitzgerald told KDKA Money Editor Jon Delano. “Are we ready to do it in the next day or two? No, we’re not that close yet, but I think all sides are bargaining in good faith and moving in the right direction.”
Fitzgerald says if the union, management, and county can come up with about $30 million, Gov. Corbett will match those dollars and restore service, but that means concessions by bus drivers, something incoming Amalgamated Transit Union president Steve Palonis says is possible.
“I’m optimistic that we can do it. Actually we have to do it. We have to have something in place because if we don’t the people of Allegheny County, the workers, the 572 people being laid off — we’d be devastated here.”
If you want to know how important the Port Authority Transit is to folks in this region, try taking the T to a Pirate game on the Fourth of July.
Fans were pouring out of the North Side T stop and many say the service cuts are devastating.
“I’m afraid that it’s going to be very difficult for me and others like to me to be able to get to work or be able to enjoy the downtown amenities that we now have,” says Jamie Brandon of Pitcairn.
Some say the cuts will more than double commute time.
“Right now my route is about a 35, 40 minute ride. I’ll have to take a different bus which is not an express. It will take me about an hour, hour and a half,” notes Tina Marie Smith of Monroeville.
Officials say the key to an agreement is a long-term 10-12 year solution.
“What we need from Gov. Corbett is a sustainable, reliable source transit funding,” adds Palonis. “Without that, a patch is not going to work here.”
“To have businesses willing to invest in certain properties, to have people willing to buy homes in certain communities, you need that stability and that’s what we’re working towards,” says Fitzgerald.