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TheGerbil

About the proposed transit cuts

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I like this blog, but I do not agree with the piece about the PAT cuts ( see Jan. 16th entry). They don't like the proposed cuts, and I don't blame them. I don't like it either. But they make some comments that I find irritating. First of all, they seem to be blaming the city for this. But it's got nothing to do with the city. Second, they are encouraging people to rethink living here if these cuts go through. That doesn't sit right with me. People can decide for themselves if they want to live in a place. Besides, I've heard that we currently have one of the largest public transit systems among our peer cities - so cuts, sucky as they may be, probably aren't as big a deal as many people think. Anyway, many "cooler" and "more liveable" cities have pretty crappy public transit systems, so I don't see why this should be enough to make anyone move.

Anyway I just wanted to vent about that. I hate it when people blame the city for everything, and turn everything into an "I'm moving if you do this" issue.

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If they want to leave, I'm glad to see them go. The real issue is attracting new people. People don't move for better public transit. However, they might move for shorter driving commute times in terms of less traffic.

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I thought I'd chime in:

About advocating that people move: If you read it over, not once do I tell anyone to move. Of course they will make those decisions themselves; I certainly can't take any credit for others' decisions about where to move. But they will move, and I think it's important to make that clear to the Port Authority and the public.

In doing some reading, I have found that the "creative class", which Allegheny County is interested in attracting, factors public transportation into its decisions about whether to live in a place. Good public transportation draws new people away from places with bad public transportation.

I'm not sure what "cooler" place you think has a crappier transit system, but I am really interested to find out. Finally, what other "I'm moving if you do this" issues are you thinking of?

Thanks,

Chris Griswold

Overheard in Pittsburgh

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I didn't mean you were telling anyone to move, but it did seem - to me anyway - like you were encouraging people to think about it. It just reminded me of a lot of things I have read that didn't sit right with me, letters and editorials I have seen. I have always felt strongly about this city and it tends to be a sore spot with me.

I do agree that public transit is extremely important. But in general I think these cuts won't be as disastrous as people seem to think. I don't want to see the cuts, but if we have a larger-than-average transit system compared to peer cities, then I think at least some cuts could be reasonably made. I just hope they listen to the public and do it wisely. I definitely don't want them to cut more than they need to or cut routes that are truly needed.

As for "cooler" cities that have crappy public transit, I was specifically thinking about San Diego. I'm not saying I think that is neccesarilly a better place to live, but it certainly seems like California cities are generally seen as very attractive. Anyway, I was recently talking to someone from San Diego and he told me their public transit is horrible.

As for "I'm moving if ___" issues, it's just something I have heard many times. I think I hear it (or see it in print) every time there's any kind of budget issue or new development. I feel like some people (and I do not mean you) use it as some kind of empty threat to try to convince the city/county/state to do things a different way. I don't think you are doing that, but your blog made me realize that this may be another one of those issues for some people.

I'm certainly not trying to knock you here. I think it's great that you are trying to draw attention to this issue. I just tend to feel very strongly about this type of thing. You are right, this could very well affect people's decision to live here. I just didn't entirely agree with everything you said, that's all.

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In doing some reading, I have found that the "creative class", which Allegheny County is interested in attracting, factors public transportation into its decisions about whether to live in a place. Good public transportation draws new people away from places with bad public transportation.

I'm not sure what "cooler" place you think has a crappier transit system, but I am really interested to find out. Finally, what other "I'm moving if you do this" issues are you thinking of?

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Chris Briem with the politics of the transit cuts:

Transit disconnect

The transit debate is at the state level and the overwhelming majority of the representatives come from districts that have very little ridership. In other words, most citizens are paying for something they don't use and the state legislators do not fear any political backlash for making cuts.

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In other words, most citizens are paying for something they don't use and the state legislators do not fear any political backlash for making cuts.

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PA is like the U.S. on a smaller scale.

The "coasts" have to suffer from the backward idiots inbetween.

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At least they don't believe that it's something that they use. But all commuters and residents benefit from the lower congestion and lesser pollution of mass transit. The whole state benefits from a stronger economy. The age old question is why the legislators pile onto insane state-wide gas tax hikes to pay for the mon-fayette after they pillage mass transit. They will make up all kinds of reasons to cut $80 million from an existing system but they will as a matter of course fund a multi-billion dollar highway project that no one wants. I don't think it's really in the interest of saving money for their constituents in the Amish country or wherever. To me it seems to be driven by pure ideology and lack of foresight.

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Fact is, the ridership on many bus routes is lousy. Meanwhile, the roads are filled with single-occupancy vehicles. Most people don't care enough to sway their representative.

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But then there are urban planners who allow long winding suburbs to be built without sidewalks, etc, and that comes back down on legislators again. Also, while they spend millions to improve limited access highways, the regular roads that buses have to go on to pick people up are barely navigable. And with strip malls, you have to walk half a mile across a parking lot from the bus stop to buy a cup of coffee. These are things that really come down on legislators who don't lift a finger to control sprawl and don't lift a finger to maintain what's already developed.

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The mayor has vowed to do what he can to help PAT: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07032/758483-53.stm

I am glad to see it. There isn't much the city can do, but the mayor seems adamant about helping in any way possible. He specifically promised to work with PAT to lobby for stable funding from the state, and to help them find reliable ways to evaluate their route system.

I hope this help from the city will make a difference.

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I believe it is in PAT best interest to consolidate the less used routes. It seems to me that voter/constinuency apathy is the problem with many your legislators in PA. The state legislators are always going to be cocerced by roadbuilders' special interest groups to have priority of roads and highways over public transportation. Until the overall populous decides to let go of their obsession of their private vehicles, public transit will always be secondary.

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