Saddle up your horses.

You know, I joke about animals as transportation, but I wouldn’t hate it if we went back to horseriding for our short trips.

Imagine a line of horses making their way across the Robert Clemente Bridge.

Imagine riding your horse to your local coffee shop and tethering it to a post before moseying in for a cup of joe.

I’d love it, Pa!

But then I think about all the horse poop and I change my mind.

Either way, the Port Authority has started their annual FREAK ALL THE COMMUTERS OUT AND BLAME IT ON THE STATE UNTIL WE GET OUR WAY shenanigans. Some highlights.

  • It will now cost you more money to ride transit. A quarter of a dollar more for short trips, a hell of a lot more for rail and suburban trips. If you live in a suburb and you take the bus downtown, you’ll be looking at 8 dollars a day. EIGHT DOLLARS. A DAY. EIGHT. DOLLARS! I can hop a Westmoreland Transit bus to Market Square for five dollars a day.
  • Fifty neighborhoods currently being serviced by public transportation will no longer be serviced, including East McKeesport, North Versailles, and South Park.
  • Services to Robinson and Edgewood Town Centers would be gone as would some weekend rail service.
  • Sixty additional neighborhoods would see a big drop in service.
  • Panic would set in.
  • Martial law would be established.
  • A zombie uprising out of Monroeville Mall would be inevitable.
  • The zombies would seek out the six-figure earning bus drivers first, figuring that people who have figured out a way to earn a hundred thousand dollars by driving a bus must have some seriously big, juicy brains.
  • I would join Milla Jovovich in quashing the uprising while saying things like, “Looks like you’re low on brain power [pew pew].”
  • Steve Bland would sail away in his gold plated yacht filled with the barrels of coins the Port Authority never got around to counting.

I may have made some of those up.

But seriously. We’re all going to die.

Also:

“We have no choice but to do what we’re doing,” he said. “We have no other options.”





77 Comments


  1. BeauJacques
    July 21, 2010 8:17 pm

    @Swoosh #46-

    YES!! Bust the platinum, bullshit, fantasy pension plans and strip the bling and make them parallel private sector equivalents!

    Airline pilots have taken major cuts, f’ing bus drivers???
    Cops?? Firemen??

    Yes, cuz ultimately, they work for us.



  2. NullRegister
    July 21, 2010 8:19 pm

    Again, the line between capital and operating budgets is not as legally and contractually flexible as most would like to believe. The two budgets are very different. Even if Port Authority was able to find a legal way to do a massive move, it’s a one time “band-aid” fix with several bad results. (1) We’d be back at this in a year and be stuck with the same infrastructure inefficiencies for decades since we wasted the capital money. (2) The operational costs of the future would increase faster due to wear and tear, lack of parts, cost of fuel, etc. (3) A dollar of capital money has the purchasing power of more than a dollar due to cost sharing, long-term financing, etc. (4) Capital money for transit is replenished slowly so this isn’t something we could roll back easily down the road. These reasons make wasting decades of the future on one year’s problem a very bad management decision.



  3. BeauJacques
    July 21, 2010 8:39 pm

    These contracts CAN and WILL be broken, it’s just a matter of when, and finding the political will to do it, but…..,

    it won’t happen here until after Danny, Lukey, the Zappalas,
    ALL the party & union cronies have cashed out, and milked every last cent, and disappeared to FL.

    Y’all will be left with the shithole you WATCHED unfold!

    I won’t be here, and it’ll be sad to watch from afar!



  4. Different Brian
    July 21, 2010 10:17 pm

    Saw a draft of their new letterhead with the new slogan on top: Port Authority – Connecting People to the 87 other people on their bus, once every 45 minutes, during rush hour.

    While bad, the original slogan was 35% larger – they really hacked away at it.

    Best part? Cash fare on the T from station square to town, during rush hour: 4.75

    Cost per ticket of someone coming from Library or SHV to town? 4 dollars.



  5. BeauJacques
    July 21, 2010 11:10 pm

    Any one-party system- D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D = shit!



  6. Bus rider
    July 21, 2010 11:38 pm

    @Jen my problem is with people like you assuming since someone has a government job that means it is cushy. Kathy just talked about how bus drivers get spat at. Teachers get punched and cussed at daily. That is not cushy to me



  7. Greg
    July 22, 2010 5:47 am

    Why do none of the astute political analysts here see this for the BS political move that it is?

    Why have we not heard from Dan Onorato yet?

    Just when everyone is all worked up, and the shi* is about to hit the fan… Dan will ride in on his white horse and release all the surplus Drink Tax money and save the day. He will try to ride that horse all the way to Harrisburg.



  8. owlgirl
    July 22, 2010 7:13 am

    Everyone’s talking about the drivers and management, but their are a lot of non-management office workers who are making ridiculous amounts of money as well. I know a woman who is a Data Entry Clerk for PAT. She types numbers into designated fields all day. She marvels that she never has to think at her job, that’s for someone else. She makes $27.15 per hour and is pre-approved for up to 20 hours of overtime per week and can get more. Her boss always approves additional OT. That’s $56k annually for a Data Entry Clerk. Plus up to an additional pre-approved 40k for overtime for a Data Entry Clerk. She brags that she pulls in 6 figures when she pumps out the overtime. 6 figures for Data Entry. She doesn’t deal with the public and have the risks that bus drivers have. Crazy!



  9. Cathy
    July 22, 2010 7:43 am

    How about a competing light rail service instead of a subway to no where (cept the ballparks and casino – talk about priorities)to northshore? Competition is what PAT needs….



  10. MrsGJG
    July 22, 2010 9:07 am

    @ bus rider: Teachers are not government employees. They are paid with public funds paid to school districts. Definitely not a cushy job. And most don’t make anything near what these bus drivers (and apparently clerical workers for PAT) are making. Teachers don’t get paid overtime, but are expected to put in the hours anyway. Also, teachers are required to have a college degree, and most have more than one. Where else in the county can you make that much money for a job where you need no real skill or education?

    If the proposed increases stand, I would hope that there would be an explosion of competition for PAT from bus service in outlying communities. Perhaps if suburbs fund their own shuttles to and from the city then people could get service without having to pay through the nose.



  11. BeauJacques
    July 22, 2010 9:20 am

    Gonna sound like a 70’s Disco tune-

    Jitney Explosion!!

    Then watch the pols howl about all the unlicensed taxi/limo service!



  12. BeauJacques
    July 22, 2010 9:30 am

    Wonder if the

    “…the most jitney stations…”

    “…Jitneys now the largest downtown growth industry…”

    will propel Pgh forward in the lists of “Best city……”

    or attract ANY, I repeat, any businesses.

    That’s a rhetorical question.

    @Greg-#57, I addressed Dan-Who. and:

    If you saw the news, his lame-duck ally Eddie just announced
    he’s willing to raid the highway fund, a move akin to stealing
    the Haitian orphans money, for an election year show-turd!



  13. RedInDaBurgh
    July 22, 2010 10:04 am

    Amen to all who say that the pensions of public-sector employees need to be revamped to 401(k)’s. That’s also the reason behind the city’s short-sighted and short-term rationale for leasing their garages and parking meters.

    If PAT can’t provide the public service it’s supposed to, transportation, why the hell does it exist? Seems like it’s main purpose is to provide inflated salaries to employees lucky enough to get appointed/hired by PAT. It’s like one of those secret societies in conspiracy movies!

    Speaking of conspiracy theories…
    Anyone else notice that among the routes cut were those to Forbes Regional Hospital? Any UPMC influence there? They close Braddock Hospital while in the act of building a new hospital in Monroeville about a mile from Forbes, and now PAT cuts its routes to Forbes. Don’t know for sure if there is a connection. But I certainly wish I trusted our “leaders” to look into this and make sure their aren’t any improprieties or conflicts of interest. Say, someone who sits on the boards of PAT and UPMC (would they be that blatant?) or some folks who sit on either who are a little too chummy?



  14. Scott
    July 22, 2010 10:12 am

    Frankly, $8/day to commute to and from the suburbs doesn’t sound unreasonable to me at all. You’d spend more than that on gas alone if you drove, not to mention the cost of parking and a car payment. The bus is still a bargain.

    Much ado about nothing. Public transportation is a nightmare to fund and manage. This topic has blown totally out of proportion.



  15. Jen
    July 22, 2010 10:50 am

    bus rider, I don’t think all government jobs are cushy, but I do think most are. A data entry clerk making $56k base salary and $40k+ overtime… sounds pretty damn cushy to me. Free health care for life, early retirement, virtual immunity from being fired for cause.. sounds pretty damn cushy to me.

    Oh and plenty of jobs in the private sector have to deal with shitty/abusive customers every day. My dad was held-up at gunpoint when he worked in a 7-11. Have you ever worked in retail and dealt with a shoplifter? I can assure you, they spit, too. Waitresses deal with grabby drunks all the time. Office shootings, chemical explosions, malfunctioning equipment…. many, many workplaces carry some degree of risk, and some degree of degradation.



  16. Swoosh
    July 22, 2010 11:00 am

    @BeauJacques

    Pretty easy for you to say to take someone else’s retirement away from them. Im not sure you would be humming the same tune if they were taking your retirement fund.



  17. BeauJacques
    July 22, 2010 11:22 am

    @Swoosh-

    OK, read slowly, RE-DO, as in “match private sector standards”



  18. BeauJacques
    July 22, 2010 11:28 am

    @Scott-

    You are obviously taking the position of an ostrich.

    What’s your position on involuntary sodomy?



  19. Mike
    July 22, 2010 2:26 pm

    I love the discourse on this issue. It’s so important to our community yet there’s no other outlet for it.

    No matter how you look at it, legacy costs are killing transit. I compared PAT’s costs to peer institutions over the past 5 years. I examined compensation and benefits relative to other public sector employees. I looked at the absolute budget, which continues to grow in a ‘down’ economy and with service cuts. I submitted a great chart here (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10173/1067236-109.stm) that the PG declined to include.

    Everyone recognizes that legacy costs can’t be mitigated in the short-term, but that’s all the more reason to create a more sustainable fiscal policy right now.

    Of course, bankruptcy would be painful in the short-term but may offer potential long-term benefits.

    Given the limitations of PAT’s management and board, it’s increasingly clear this problem has been perpetuated by the state. The state also has clear jurisdiction to create positive change.

    The proposed service cuts offer another strong anecdote that local and state fiscal transit policies are unsustainable. Moreover, they promote healthy discourse. Thanks to Virginia for posting and for all the interest!

    I do wish the ATU would offer to participate in solving the current crisis. Their silence is unfortunate.



  20. Ken Zapinski
    July 22, 2010 3:40 pm

    #69 Mike,

    As currently structured under state law, the Port Authority is probably not authorized to file for bankruptcy, and would require a change in the legislation that governs it. Ultimately, the question would have to be decided by a court, but it appears very unlikely that the Port Authority has that ability.

    Ken Zapinski, Allegheny Conference



  21. MrsGJG
    July 22, 2010 3:58 pm

    I’m sure glad someone invited the grown-ups to this chat. :)



  22. Mike
    July 22, 2010 4:34 pm

    @Ken

    Thanks… I wasn’t aware. Bankruptcy was discussed during the last contract negotiation, so I assumed it was on the table.



  23. Mike
    July 22, 2010 4:58 pm

    @RedInDaBurgh (#63): There won’t be service to the new hospital either. Service is stopping at Monroeville Mall come September.

    Not only do I lose service to my neighborhood (not so bad, I can deal with a Park ‘n Ride), but come January, if all goes ahead, I would pay $4 one way. That’s when I stop riding, sadly.



  24. BeauJacques
    July 23, 2010 7:30 am

    Zober – “Hopefully, it will have a negligible effect rather than a great effect.”

    How strong does your faith feel now voters???

    I put that right there with this being the turnaround season.



  25. BeauJacques
    July 23, 2010 7:38 am

    ps-

    OK, here’s parking 101:

    The CITY rates are what pegs the private rates!



  26. Mike D
    July 23, 2010 10:10 am

    The fact remains that, unlike most public transit systems in the US and the world, there is no sustainable long term funding source for Pittsburgh public transportation and the Port Authority, despite this fact being communicated and known by Harrisburg annually for over a decade.

    Without transit, we will have more cars on the road, more parking built downtown, and more social justice inequity.

    Whining about people making more money than you, or fancy offices is just a way to distract people from the real problem. Thats Church is kind of like the Trib on this issue.

    You’ve become the voice of the media spin that you normally mock, ironically.



  27. 7000th Nerd Girl
    July 23, 2010 12:27 pm

    A minor point about the sticker shock:

    @Scott, #64: >>Frankly, $8/day to commute to and from the suburbs doesn’t sound unreasonable to me at all. You’d spend more than that on gas alone if you drove, not to mention the cost of parking and a car payment. The bus is still a bargain.>>

    Thank you! Finally someone mentions car payments. Do people think cars descend from heaven on wings of angels, or something?*

    Bear in mind that some current transit riders simply don’t own cars. Personally, I don’t own a car because I am currently lucky enough to be able to walk to work, so it would be a waste to own two in our 2-person household. However, the Mr. and I are looking to buy a house, so if we switch neighborhoods, the choice might literally be between buying a second car and taking mass transit, fare hike and all.

    Just driving a $10K car off the lot equals riding an $8 bus to and from the burbs every weekday for *2 and a half years*. That’s not even touching insurance, gas, parking, or repairs.

    I’m not singing the praises of PAT for their “give us money or we’ll shoot these commuters” act, because I’m really tired of that. I’m saying that the sticker shock is not quite as clear-cut as “bus fare equals parking.” That’s all.