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mercurypa

Transit cutback and reform

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The announcement by the Port Authority this morning concerning route reform and cutback has me both concerned and happy. I just recently started working downtown and commute by bus from Highland Park. Part of the reason I choose to live in a city is so I do have these options available, so I don't have to drive and waste resources. I would be unhappy if I could not get from point A to point B conveniently. However, I do see many buses traversing the city at night without any riders and obviously wasting the resources of taxpayers and system riders.

Hopefully this will allow the PA to revamp itself and its approach to providing the new Pittsburgh with more efficient transit. Some changes I would like to see are:

Maps of the system and timetables for the route served at every stop. Possibly small neighborhood maps as well.

Re-routing bus-routes onto major wider streets only and taking undo pressure off of small residential streets. Many routes travel these streets because they still follow ancient street-car lines.

Payment before you board to ensure that all people are paying their fare share instead of relying on drivers memories to collect before people exit.

Enforce noise and eating regulations with fines for those who break them.

Cut unused late night service before eliminating routes altogether.

A member of management should ride and observe each and every line on each driver shift to truly analyze what routes need to be eliminated or changed.

Adopt a fare system without zones at 3 dollars per ride with unlimited transfers.

Switch to a metro card system for seamless travel.

Offer tourist passes and friendlier information centers.

Set money aside for a permanent light rail system like Portland, Or.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07003/750933-100.stm

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I agree that this could be a way for port authority to transform itself into a more efficient operation. Two stop downtown service, re-negotiating labor contracts, using mini busses on late night routes etc.

However, this service cut announcement is most likely the same "end of the world" scenario they used (successfully) last time the funding was up. This problem is not Pittsburgh specific. Similar cuts are being planned in Philly. Its time for the state government to make a major stance on the public transportation issue. PA has the opportunity to finally catch up to other more progressive states are fare at highway vs. transit funds.

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Its time for the state government to make a major stance on the public transportation issue. PA has the opportunity to finally catch up to other more progressive states are fare at highway vs. transit funds.

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I love the idea of the honor system fare checking. This is how Berlin does it, it works great.

OTOH, I don't think the 11% ridership drop would hold out past the short term. These kinds of service cuts and price hikes are a wonderful good incentive for people to depend more on cars and move into less dense areas more favorable to them. It's definitely not building a viable system for the future, it's making another Amtrak.

The budget shortfalls are not PAT's fault, they are the state and federal government's fault for suddenly terminating funding for transit that had been put in place for the long term and the system built around it. It's kind of like spending money to build a national park and then having a later administration give it away for oil wells. All the while they build bridges and highways to nowhere and run the biggest budget deficits in history themselves.

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This proposed cutback of over half the routes would be devastating for the city and region. Pittsburgh would instantly have one of the most meager transit systems of any US major city, and PAT would enter a cycle of decline and irrelevance... and the hundreds of laid-off bus drivers will have to move to cities like Portland, OR for new jobs. I hope this sabre-rattling will get the attention of the state government to actually devote money to transit instead of Mon-Fay boondoggles. Mass transit should not have to turn a profit... it's a public good and should be supported as such.

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With all of the green construction, riverfront restoration and brownfield development happening in Pittsburgh, it would be a shame to see something as environmentally sound and as basic as public transportation get cut.

Not sure when our leaders will get their priorities straight... (of course this applies to the country as a whole and not just PA).

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Once again, a lot of the public doesn't grasp the reality of PAT.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07004/751190-147.stm

People who ride a bus that's proposed to be cut bemoan that there are funds for building the T expansion, etc. People really have to start understanding the entire concept of a public good. The whole point of separating the funding for capital investment and operations is so that the public good doesn't get cannibalized by short term "cost saving" measures. Public goods are destroyed by greedy people who refuse to share and when given the chance they will cut funding even if it means relegating the public good out of existence. I know that everyone here knows this... it just makes me so frustrated. And the ACCD is really playing the role of greedy cannibal quite well here. It's so ridiculous.

I like the lady who they quoted at the bottom of the article, though... she's right on.

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Joe Grata had a very good explination of the current state of things in Sunday's PG...

Not all Port Authority Cuts are easy to explain

He addresses the fact that some of these cuts make alot of sence. Such as routes carrying 4-8 people a bus load.

However, cutting routes such as the 28X defy explination

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well, I think both PAT and the state legislature are to blame for this situation... the PAT has been poorly managed... from an economist perspective... much like the downfall of domestic steel and auto industries... and the radical reorganization of the airline industry after 9/11... wage increases were negotiated that far outstripped "productivity increases"... I heard that PAT bus drivers make 80k a year... while I think these people deserve a fine salary... this is simply beyond the pale. Add in ample legacy benefits... and BAM! So I can understand the state legislature's reluctance to "bail out" such a mismanaged organization. However, the state legislature really has no room to talk about sound fiscal management. PA has the most bloated and overpaid legislature in the country... and some would argue the most ineffective. They manage to squander billions on transportation boondoggles like Mon-Fayette.

I feel that PAT should trim the Hankey Farms route... and in total... the cuts aren't as bad as when first presented as "Over 50 percent of routes to be slashed!". But I do feel it's a bit drastic... and I think there is a real lack of political will in Harrisburg to improve the mass transit situation in the state.

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PAT's woes and money spent on highways are two different things.

You can dream all you want about great transit, but it would be a century before the Mon Valley had good transit. Meanwhile, they deserve decent access to the city as much as folks in West Noth and East.

It's horrible getting through those communities.

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