PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Hundreds of people are voicing their concerns today about proposed fare hikes and service cuts by the Port Authority.

A public hearing is being held all day at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center to give the community a chance to weigh-in on the proposal. It kicked off at 8 a.m.

People have also gathered outside of the Convention Center.

“They’re going to lose their jobs; they won’t be able to get food, they won’t be able to go to doctor’s appointments and you’re cutting access too,” added Barbara Irons, a Port Authority rider.

More than 345 riders, business leaders and representatives from community organizations are scheduled to take speak. Each gets three minutes to weigh in on the proposed cuts.

“This is probably the largest crowd we’ve ever had at one of these public hearings over the years,” said Jim Ritchie, the Port Authority spokesperson. “This funding crisis has been going on for several years and we’ve essentially filled up two rooms for the full 12 hours of the day. So, it’s a very large turnout today.”

With the Port Authority facing a $64 million budget deficit, there’s a lot on the chopping block.

The proposal as it stands now means eliminating about half of all routes. Every remaining route would see some type of reduction. In addition to that, there would be across-the-board fare increases.

“We are going to fight for public transit all the time,” said Kenneth Miller, of Manchester. “Every day, until it’s a guaranteed human right like it’s supposed to be.”

Some riders offered solutions to fill the budget gap; others say they’re just sick and tired of the Port Authority passing blame.

“You cannot look to the state funding and say there’s not going to be PAT transit unless we get state funding,” Miller added. “You have to provide public transit for the people in this region. So, maybe you need some other ideas about where you’re going to get funding from or whatever, but it’s on you.”

The hearing continues through 8 p.m.

If you could not make it to the hearing, you can submit comments to the Port Authority by mail, by phone or online. The public comment period ends on March 9.

By mail:
Port Authority Fare & Service Proposals
Heinz 57 Center
345 Sixth Avenue, Floor 3
Pittsburgh PA 15222-2527

Visit the Port Authority’s website here

Port Authority Customer Service Line:
TTY: 412-231-7007

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