Scare tactics?

An email from Ken Zapinski senior VP of transportation and infrastructre at the Allegheny Conference on Community Development with permission:

As scary as it might seem to you (or me), I consider you an opinion leader with that crucial young creative class cohort that we seek, so I thought you might be interested in the statement below that the Allegheny Conference issued today in response to the Onorato/Port Authority announcement.

It’s no scare tactic, and Onorato said that several times at the press conference (which I attended.) No matter what the state does, the Port Authority needs to take drastic steps to improve its efficiency, and today’s announcement was the first step in that process. Everyone who has taken a serious look at the port authority’s performance and financial trends has come to essentially the same conclusion — if bold steps are not taken now, there won’t be a port authority to worry about in a few years.


The statement from the conference is quite lengthy, so I’ll not post it here; however, you can download the entire statement here (scroll down).

After you’ve all quit laughing that anyone in this city considers me “an opinion leader”, and you’re ready to comment, I ask that you comment with some semblance of maturity because I’d like to think my readers can make their opinions known without resorting to “My God, how much do YOU suck?!” type of statements.

That said, let Ken know how you feel and maybe you’ll get a response to your questions.  Particulary that question about why are we digging a tunnel under the river for $435 million?  The mind boggles.


  1. c
    January 5, 2007 2:07 pm

    I live on a suburban bus route – numerous big busses pass day and night and they’re mostly empty(zero customers). Additional tiny busses were added to take our silent immigrant population to the mall – those busses sometimes have a few(2) on board. It blows my mind that the effort of public transportation is so wasted. When I travel to work in my car, I travel on a major urban bus route – folks use the busses more here and those routes are not proposed to be cancelled.
    Reality, who rides the bus? Who works downtown? Are there enough to justfiy the expense? PAT was designed for a day gone by. Tunnel #1 for fun, next tunnel #2 to Oakland for work – now you’ve got a hub like a real city.
    I suggest that the drivers are reassigned new routes using the tiny busses to collect our staggering junkie population. They can pick them up and deliver them directly to the new West Penn. Pittgirl, change can be good.

  2. dressagelady
    January 5, 2007 2:33 pm

    I agree that the system definitely could stand for modification and improvement, but as someone whom works downtown, I have to disagree. The loss of downtown PAT bus routes will be a financial blow to alot of people. Considering the price of downtown parking, those routes are very important to some people.

    P.S. Pittgirl – I’ve read your blog for awhile, but this is my first comment. Love the sarcasm!!

  3. Aeran
    January 5, 2007 3:09 pm

    Students use the system too – the larger local universities (Pitt, CMU) have their students ride the buses to get around Oakland and Shadyside, and the Pittsburgh Public Schools give monthly bus passes to their high school students in lieu of paying for schoolbuses.
    Mismanaged as the system is, it needs to stick around.

  4. Scott
    January 5, 2007 9:13 pm

    You’re definitely right about that stupid unnecessary tunnel. They should ditch that (ha ha) and spend the money to ensure that the people have the transportation they really need.

  5. Pingback: Port Authority Transit is Riding Me @ Ales Rarus

  6. Denise
    January 6, 2007 9:41 am

    The Port Authority needs to be privatized…case closed.

    It is clear that as a government agency it is a disastrous failure. I don’t doubt that they are in dire financial straits…that tends to happen when you build tunnels under rivers that you can’t afford and tunnels through mountains that generate zero revenue. As long as they can come crying to the state every year for an allowance increase like a spoiled child, we will never, ever have a decent transportation system in Western Pennsylvania and the city will continue to suffer.

    Privatize it and force it to run like the business that it is. It worked just fine 50 years ago when my grandfather drove a bus for Pittsburgh Railways.

  7. Bryan
    January 9, 2007 12:16 pm

    While I agree that their are problems at the PAAC there is one little factor that is left out about the “tunnel” under the river. This tunnel comes from a Federal pot of money that is a totally different pot than “operating” funds come from. This project was one of the top 5 projects last year and when they put it as a top 5 it gets funded and built. If they didn’t build the tunnel, most of the money for it would be just given to another project for it to be built. I don’t know the entire details but usually it is an 80% fed, 20% state/local match. So, they would only recoup about 20% of the cost at best. I wouldn’t want to see them just hand back money that has been given them to upgrade the system (not to mention the casino being over there now will add some ridership).

    The real problem lies in the salaries from what I can see. The drivers are the highest paid in the US which boggles my mind as we don’t have that big of a system compared to the NYC’s and Chicago’s and Boston’s.

  8. Funky Dung
    January 10, 2007 2:40 pm

    While I agree that PAT’s drivers are overpaid, I gotta give ’em props for navigating da burgh without hitting more cars than they do.

  9. Denise
    January 11, 2007 9:02 am

    I agree that the tunnel is not their biggest problem given that most of it is not coming from their operating budget, but who is going to be responsible for the cost overruns that the project will undoubtedly incur?

    It is a shame that the suburban public transportation in this city has been so poor for years that the demand for it at this point has been effectively killed. I can’t believe that people would rather sit in gridlock on Greentree Hill and pay through the nose for parking instead of reading a book on the West Busway like I do. We need more light rail…not just to the South Hills.