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. Chris P
    July 21, 2010 2:09 pm

    Yup, you hit the nail on the head:

    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.



  2. Sheila
    July 21, 2010 2:12 pm

    some places cost less than $8 to park so why bus it esp. if you can carpool with a neighbor and its even less? Yay for increased traffic on parkway north! Maybe they’ll open up the HOV lanes now (ha ha!)



  3. bus rider
    July 21, 2010 2:12 pm

    The fact that you say it costs you five dollars a day to use a Westmoreland Transit bus shows your ignorance of the situation. Of course it is cheaper to ride WCTA. They can maximize their services to the peak hours of the day and have maybe 25 routes. If you live in the suburbs you are not going to rely on public transportation if you work the night shift or are looking to get picked up within a thirty minute window. PAT needs to be subsidized by public money because it is supplying a public service. It makes the trips that have 5 people on it because those 5 people need the bus at 9:45 at night just as much as anyone else.

    Everyone(including you) talk about how they have to run their business better. One way to run your business better is to eliminate routes and services that are not profitable. Now that they are doing that you say HOW CAN YOU CUT SERVICE? So keep riding your WCTA that can cater to suburban living and stop running service at 8 pm and leave PAT alone.



  4. K
    July 21, 2010 2:12 pm

    It’s amazing how the “good” places to live like Shadyside and Highland Park, the “hip” and “up and coming” Lawrenceville, and the student area of Oakland are going to be among the hardest hit with the public transit cuts. I know so many people that take the bus from all of those areas to save on the $230830 in parking fees Downtown.

    On top of that, McKees Rocks, Homestead, and Brentwood will lose service. I know that several of my patients use public transit to get to appointments from there. What a sad day when one can’t even rely on public transportation to get to work or to a medical appointment.



  5. Ted
    July 21, 2010 2:13 pm

    Pittsburgh continues to take advantage of the suburban workers – outrageous parking rates/taxes, and now strategically eliminating service to pack more people into the premium routes. Dangerous, considering most of the work downtown is white collar, and there will now be even MORE incentive to telecommute!

    If they eliminate service to Robinson Town Center, where will the riders go? Oh to the Moon route, that is now “premium” at $4 each way. They are narrowing the cost benefit to mass transport greatly, making it easier to justify the cost of driving yourself due to the convenience factor.



  6. Virginia
    July 21, 2010 2:18 pm

    bus rider,

    Did I say “HOW CAN YOU CUT SERVICE!?”

    No. I am saying, “Hey, if you live close to the county line, just hop on over to the Westmoreland side of things to catch your bus and you can save yourself three dollars a day!”



  7. Sara-also a bus rider
    July 21, 2010 2:18 pm

    I don’t think anyone’s arguing with the idea that PAT needs to be partially state-funded, #2.

    However, the way PAT runs their business is an absolute joke.

    Let’s not even get started on the ridiculous new fare collection boxes that they didn’t really need that don’t really work, yet cost us, the riders, a pretty penny.

    If I have to choose between 8PM service & new collection boxes/overpaid drivers, I am going with 8PM service.

    I think the point is that just because they take state money doesn’t mean that they don’t have to be accountable and responsible for how they spend it–if not more so.



  8. Cnik
    July 21, 2010 2:29 pm

    Let me see if I understand the PAT business model…

    1) Overpay the workers since it apparently takes a rocket scientist to drive a bus
    2) Make it inconvenient to use the services so that noone will even think about taking abus or train.

    …Can we figure out where the PAT budget deficit is yet???



  9. bus rider
    July 21, 2010 2:31 pm

    You are right, you just insuated that everything they suggested doing is laughable without offering any suggestion to a solution.



  10. Sara-also a bus rider
    July 21, 2010 2:37 pm

    I’d start by better managing the payroll & overtime.

    Too late now, but not getting new fare boxes would have been smart, especially given that they’re crying poor not 6 months later.

    Better managing the fleet: buy less new buses–if we had to choose between riding an older bus for current fare and paying more for a new bus, I’m going with the older bus.

    Same routes, fewer stops (some stop literally every block–this is not necessary). This would save gas/time.

    I know that students from the Heinz School @ CMU have consulted for them for free in the past–they more than likely ignored any suggestions given them. There are many bright young minds there and at Tepper that would gladly offer up help, analysis & suggestions for free. They should tap into that wealth of knowledge.



  11. Maggie K
    July 21, 2010 2:40 pm

    @ bus rider. They can cut overtime, make their employees pay more for their benefits, you know balance a budget to make money like most companies do instead of trying create panic and cry the poor us attitude…a bus driver making over $100,000 a year is outrageous, everyone knows that



  12. Bram R
    July 21, 2010 2:42 pm

    Bear with me Ginny, I’m just gonna re-post the questions I asked of your commenter Ken Zapinkski from the Allegheny Conference under your “joke about animals as transportation” post here, in case they got overlooked:

    Hi, Ken – Can you summarize quickly what cuts Bland-era management has made throughout its own ranks* (incl compensation, benefits, expenses and travel)? I know there was a pay “freeze” but that’s not remotely the same as a cut or a downsize.

    I’m aware that labor and equipment costs dwarf the cost of management*, but I also believe that any organization’s habits and inclinations are set by its own example set at the top. “I ain’t caving in if they’re still raking it in” is probably a popular sentiment during negotiations. I guess I’m curious about the ‘major concessions’ you comment have been won also.

    *- And by “management” I also mean white-collar service providers and the amount spent on those functions (in-house and consultant marketers, public relations specialists and designers). Again I’m not expecting to uncover a gold mine there but it might speak to a culture of thrift or a culture of excess.



  13. Sara-also a bus rider
    July 21, 2010 2:44 pm

    Agree Maggie-their current method of balancing their budget is to mismanage it all year then cry poor to the state and jack up rates.

    The end point of that strategy (admittedly successful for them thus far) is fast approaching, as both the state and their riders are running low on crisp dollar bills.



  14. Annie
    July 21, 2010 2:47 pm

    I don’t live in Western PA anymore so I’m not following this story very closely, but I’m with bus rider. I’m assuming if they cut back on overtime then there won’t be enough drivers at any given time to cover the shifts. If you have to hire more drivers and stop giving overtime then it might actually cost more because there are costs to having an employee other than salary (benefits, administrative costs, etc). I couldn’t say for sure because I don’t know the specifics of their overtime pay. It seems like the Port Authority is totally mismanaged, but vilifying bus drivers who are willing to work more than 40 hours seems harsh.



  15. BeauJacques
    July 21, 2010 2:49 pm

    Let’s not forget genius Lukey’s plan to “privatize” downtown parking!!

    $10 bus fare + >$50 parking = GHOST TOWN!

    Port Authority has always been a bottomless accountability & money pit!

    preview of 2014:

    On-line auctions for daily parking d’town, starting @ $75.

    None, nada, as in zero, bus & trolley service, AND bigger drink tax to pay all the retired drivers and mgrs FULL health-for-life
    + 85% skewed from OT pay pensions (with cost of living increases built-in) platinum parachute packages!!

    Keep pulling “D”

    If I had a d’town biz I’d be looking for a buyer yesterday!



  16. Wardy
    July 21, 2010 2:56 pm

    I thought this was the driving force behind the drink tax. If I am correct, the drink tax is still in place, so whis is PAT so strapped for cash? If the County isn’t going to use the money to pay for PAT, repeal the tax.



  17. BeauJacques
    July 21, 2010 2:57 pm

    Only Grant St. lawyers and retired Port Authority drivers will be able to afford parking!



  18. BeauJacques
    July 21, 2010 3:03 pm

    Not hearing much from Dan-Ho Onorato right now are you??

    Surprise!! Surprise!!

    He had EVERY opportunity to tackle this, didn’t.

    Now he wants us to think he’d do any different in Harrisburg?

    Pardon me while I puke.



  19. bus rider
    July 21, 2010 3:18 pm

    how did Dan Onorato have EVERY opportunity to tackle this? He implemented the drink tax to give an additional $30 Million dollars a year to PAT. It is the state that needs to give money. The state relied on Act 44 and now that is not happening so there is no state money.



  20. Toad
    July 21, 2010 3:22 pm

    @BeauJacques:

    I don’t disagree; but pardon me while I puke about Corbett, too. He has promised no new taxes — and, I’m sorry, without even a minimal hike in gas/transportation taxes, this situation is only going to get worse.

    Look — you have to all understand that these drivers are unionized, pensions and lifelong health care plans are already done, and the overtime mistakes of the past cannot be fixed retroactively. What do you want to do — take the money out of the driver’s bank accounts?? How can you blame a driver for voting for a union contract, which was negotiated on behalf of both the union AND the Port Authority, for taking overtime if he can logistically do it??

    I’m not saying that the current and past CBAs are/were ridiculous. I’m not saying that PAT didn’t make horrible decisions 30 years ago when they began granting lifetime pensions and health benefits. But we can’t fix those problems now. The argument that we, the taxpayers, shouldn’t have to pay for a CEO’s prior mistakes isn’t going to cut it with me. What we need is someone to finally come up with some solution so that PAT, and SEPTA, and Centre County Transit, etc. can ALL remain sustainable without leaving the underpriviledged and the low-mid class worker in the dark. Don’t b!tch about the past — work to find a solution for the problems you are faced with now.



  21. MadMadMad
    July 21, 2010 3:27 pm

    “As just reported this past week, drivers are making $24.74 an hour, will get annual raises during the life of the contract (through 2012) and are largely shielded from increases to health care costs.”

    Last go-round they bitched and moaned about having to pay more than 1% of their wages towards healthcare coverage.

    Sounds just like what every other unskilled worker in the city gets, right? Yeah right.



  22. Toad
    July 21, 2010 3:28 pm

    BTW, in no way am I endorsing the current plan outlined by PAT today. That just can’t happen. If that happens, mark my words, you’ll never see Pgh on any “most livable/sustainable/best place to do ‘x’ city” list ever again. But if someone else has a better idea than increase in fees and taxes statewide so that an influx of money comes in to help PAT and the other transit systems within the Commonwealth, I’m all ears….



  23. Andi
    July 21, 2010 3:31 pm

    So, the $30 million was made for PA, but the money has not been given to PAT? If that’s the case, what happened to the money?

    Why isn’t Gov Rendell crying fowl and raising some stink about PA not getting this money yet? And, yeah, every politician who opened his mouth spouting for the drink tax should be all over this and PAT officials should too to make sure that money got appropriated to PAT to make it run more efficiently. Instead, they cut services and raise fares. Get that $30 million first, forget about the increase in fares and slashing service.

    BTW, bigwig PAT officials shouldn’t be getting any bonuses. Cut out from the top first (before raising fares) and make an example of what a business should do to save money.



  24. toni
    July 21, 2010 3:44 pm

    I say we blow the damn thing up and start from scratch…I’m sick of the yearly stick up from Port Authority. And I am reliant on bus transportation.

    I don’t want to hear another crack from anyone about welfare moms when you’ve got a welfare entity here. Depending on the source you read, they get anywhere from 65% to 80% of their monies FROM THE STATE!!!!! Actually I don’t want welfare anything…but I have more compassion for that mother than this money hog that expects me to fund their legacies pricey retirement packages…packages, I might add, that they were allowed to take around age 45 if they met the requirments for time in service. (This has since been recinded for current hires thank God).

    Basically we are paying the price for a group of retirees that are more numerous in number than actual working bus drivers.

    And once again, Port Authority is using the Press to get the public to go all shock n awe on the politicians. Greedy hog that it is, it’s played this trump card too many times much too frequently. Privatize the bastard and be done with it.



  25. Steverino
    July 21, 2010 3:46 pm

    The fare boxes were bought with a federal grant, not rider fares. The capital budget by law is separate from the operating budget.

    The couple of bus drivers who made $100,000 took all the overtime they could get and practically lived out of the bus garage for a year. Most drivers make half of that.

    The drink tax helped fill a hole the year before. The state was hoping that the tolling of I-80 would be able to fund transit and road repairs statewide. Without that, we’re left with a huge deficit.

    It’s very easy to kvetch when you can make wild claims without substantiation.



  26. Steverino
    July 21, 2010 3:47 pm

    Can’t privatize it, either. It was all private before PAT took over in 1964 and the 33 separate companies were all bankrupt and begging for a county buyout.



  27. Dan (Not Onarato)
    July 21, 2010 3:48 pm

    I dont know about you guys but Im stocking up on toilet paper and milk!

    I thought the drink tax as well as the extra taxes on rental cars were supposed to help out with PAT. Am I wrong?

    Cut back on OT, no shift differential and no bonuses would be a start.



  28. BeauJacques
    July 21, 2010 3:51 pm

    You can TOO bust those pension plans!!

    Creative legislation and a determined voting public!



  29. Annie
    July 21, 2010 3:53 pm

    +1 on Steverino’s comment



  30. BeauJacques
    July 21, 2010 3:54 pm

    Dan Onorato had a golden opportunity to bust the Transit unions.



  31. NullRegister
    July 21, 2010 4:00 pm

    To add to Steverino’s comments, they really can’t slide money from capital into operating budgets due to how the money flows and where it flows from. In addition, capital expenditures are often directly aimed at reducing operating costs (e.g., more fuel economy, replacing buses that kill the maintenance budget, etc). The North Shore connector is not in that realm, but the new bus purchase and smartcards are definitely aimed at reducing costs in the operating budget.

    @Bram: I’ve had the opportunity to visit the other side of the doorway at many Port Authority “white collar” sites and I can tell you they are ghost towns. They have a very lean management compared to most government agencies. They’ve already done the cuts and downsizing you are talking about – these have been going on for the last few years and are way ahead of you.



  32. BeauJacques
    July 21, 2010 4:02 pm

    @Null Register-

    Who the eff are you and what salaried job do you have at the Port Authority???

    WHO are you kidding???



  33. Toad
    July 21, 2010 4:03 pm

    BeauJacques: Like I said above: I’m all ears. Tell me your creative legislation, because no one in PAT, county gov’t, state gov’t, or anywhere else has come up with any ideas. I would love to see your legislation that will retroactively cancel binding contracts…..

    Oh, and when you do come up with it, then I want to see the legal bills that PAT, the county, and the state are going to rack up with 30 years of retired bus drivers suing to high hell.

    And what are voters going to do? Vote out the union? Vote out the CEO? Vote out Rendell? And in case you haven’t noticed, Corbett isn’t going to do a lick to help public transportation, and we’ve seen what Onorato’s incompetence does. So what exactly is your solution?

    Oh, and notice that I’m not giving any solutions because I just don’t have any. Well, maybe I can think of a couple ([1] actually put the drink tax money in PAT’s coffers; [2] raise gasoline taxes and PennDOT fees (actually, that’s Rendell’s idea, but hey, OK); [3] spend money now to make money later, i.e. streamlining the entire system a la D.C.; [4] more park n rides, please God more park n rides) But it seems everyone else that comes on here and b!tches about PAT must have some sort of solution, right?



  34. BeauJacques
    July 21, 2010 4:19 pm

    Public service pensions do not, should not be any more sancrosanct than the rest of us, pass the legislation, do the court fight- be done with it.

    California is going to do it, why should we wait?

    Bust the unions the next contract.

    Retro cancel scum-thief Paul Skoutelas’ booty, let him die in court.



  35. Kathy
    July 21, 2010 4:20 pm

    busrider… how about not cutting service and instead doing something to address:

    3 MILLION paid to workers’ and passengers hurt last year:
    http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/dailycourier/news/dunbar/s_650177.html

    How about the 300+ hours of worker’s comp for drivers to “recover” from being spit on? Fraud, waste and abuse. Timecard fraud.

    It’s not a revenue problem… it’s a management problem. It’s an accountability problem.



  36. BeauJacques
    July 21, 2010 4:25 pm

    Give me 180 days complete dictatorship and you won’t even find the bodies! :-)



  37. BeauJacques
    July 21, 2010 4:37 pm

    Solution:

    Find the candidates who will ALLOW the city, Port Authority pensions to go bankrupt!

    Just like the private sector.

    cuz…..they ARE!!



  38. toni
    July 21, 2010 4:40 pm

    If your referring to me Steve, I’m not making wild claims without substantiation. Tell me the problem ISN’T the retiree packages.

    I also do know about the fact that it was privatized and then went public in the past. So basically, because the state went blind and stupid, looking the other way when the past head of Port Authority pushed thru the benefit of letting drivers buy years in service towards retirement from military service or from working for another port authority in another state. Not that he did this out of the goodness of his heart ( name Scoliotis??? It wasn’t Bland) He did it because he had a ton of years he worked in an out of state Port Authority and didnt want to lose those perks.

    Anytime you give a company free rein with taxplayer monies they play footloose and fancyfree. If the state did such a stellular job in taking over Port Authority we wouldn’t be facing they yearly drama and hold up. The politicians kept pushing back the day or reckoning until it has reached the problem it is today. You batch gaping wounds with band aids and hide your head in the sand, cause god forbid, you tick off a union who can vote you back in.

    And don’t give me the song and dance about …oh here we go with the union vote conversation, not when I eyewitnessed Port Authority supervisors on T platforms with clip boards reminding my T car driver to vote. That vote helped put fat Eddie back in the Gov seat.



  39. bus rider
    July 21, 2010 4:42 pm

    @Kathy the 3 million paid to hurt workers and passengers is better off paid than fighting it in court. what can you do about the passengers? Not let them sue? You can not prevent accidents and fraud. It is cheaper for them to pay out the suits then the lawyers and court costs to MAYBE win.

    Personally, I am glad that I have a job where I don’t have to be spit on. Being spit on is one of the most demeaning things that can happen to you. Plus, if I was spit on I would want to punch that person in the face, however a bus driver does not have that luxury. So please don’t act like being spit on is some trivial thing that does not get to you emotionally.

    And I am sorry, you are being ignorant to say that it is not a revenue problem. I admit that it is also a management problem, but to flatly say it is not a revenue problem as well is not realizing what some of the obstacles of running public tranportation are. It is PUBLIC transportation. They are providing a PUBLIC service and are asking for PUBLIC funding to help subsidize the fact they are running a system that can not produce profit.



  40. bus rider
    July 21, 2010 4:54 pm

    @toni just because you didn’t know that it was private before does not mean it is not true.

    What annoys me, and Steverino is that everyone who is against PAT, and there are many reasons to be against PAT is that you all come out with your same talking points over and over again and ignore any facts that are brought up.

    I am against unions in most cases and feel that there are things that the Port Authority and the City can do to help their respective crisis.

    They could make it that no NEW employees have a pension. They could make it that employees have to pay more into their health benefits. But a reason the union is there and helpful in this case is that you should not be allowed to take pensions and health benefits away from people who have already done their job. They took that job with the understanding of what you would get upon retirement. If those benefits were not worked into their contract they may have taken another job.

    There are some benefits for working for the government, just like there are benefits for working in the private sector. Everyone chooses the job they have and if you don’t like yours and the benefits that come with it, get another one.



  41. squarian
    July 21, 2010 4:59 pm

    I’m for public mass transit. I think a city like Pittsburgh which neglects public transit is doomed. Public transit is the future in America – carburbs were and are a disastrous mistake which need to be land-use regulated and taxed out of existence.

    That being said, Port Authority is a basket case. Strip its charter, let it die, and replace it with an organization not completely rooted in a 50s Renaissance I Yinzer-labor culture. In the meantime, ask Gov. Onorato to declare a state of emergency and have the National Guard drive the buses.



  42. unsatisfied
    July 21, 2010 5:06 pm

    when the competition for PAT in allegheny county — i.e., taxi service — is regulated to be between the airport and, oh, across the street from the william penn — PAT can do whatever it wants to do.



  43. unsatisfied
    July 21, 2010 5:07 pm

    er, relegated.

    not regulated.

    I feel like sarah palin. yick.



  44. squarian
    July 21, 2010 5:14 pm

    On the legal costs arising from busting the union and rescinding the retirement legacy costs:

    Cut a deal with a given number of Grant St law firms: pro bono work in return for five years’ worth of free bus passes for their secretaries and building maintenance people. If they can’t find a law firm willing, make sure there will be no bus stops within 100 yards of Grant and Fifth/Forbes.



  45. NullRegister
    July 21, 2010 5:34 pm

    @BeauJacques: I don’t work for Port Authority. I’m just an objective, rational professional and my job has led to visits in their offices periodically over the years. I’ve also visited other government agencies, including those known to be lean and well run, so I can comment objectively. And no, I do not have a political job, work for the county, etc. And yes, I know a thing or two about management.



  46. Swoosh
    July 21, 2010 5:40 pm

    @BeauJacques

    Why would you want to bust people’s pension plans? Employees worked for years and earned their pensions, and you want to just go in and steal their money? How would you feel if someone was to tap into your IRA and take your retirement money? Yeahhhh that wouldn’t feel too nice now would it?

    My grandfather had his pension stolen from him when I was growing up after working for a company for close to 40 years. He died a poor man with our family supporting him.



  47. Ken Zapinski
    July 21, 2010 5:49 pm

    I will take it as a compliment (I guess) that I was called out by Bram. It is a valid question that he asks. In rough terms, the Port Authority has eliminated 370 positions or roughly 12% of its total workforce over the past several years. Of that total, 50 were non-union, or 16% of the non-represented workforce. In addition, all non-represented workers had their “retiree healthcare for life” benefit eliminated, something that the unionized workforce still enjoys, even after the concessionary contract they agreed to in December 2008.

    I’ll try to answer a few of the questions raised here. First, re: retiree pension – the PA Constitution would not permit the Port Authority (or the City of Pittsburgh, or the State of PA or whomever) to default on retiree pensions as private sector companies can do via bankruptcy.

    To tackle a few of the ideas raised by #33 Toad: 1) the drink tax money collected by the county has been paid to the Port Authority as required; 2) the PA Constitution prohibits gasoline taxes and vehicle registration fees from being used to fund public transit; 3) the Port Authority is in the midst of a multi-year system redesign/efficiency plan that so far has increased productivity by 16%; the agency is required to balance its budget each year and cannot spend more than it takes in; 4) additional park n’ ride lots are part of the Port Authority’s improvement plan, but it costs money (buy property, build parking lots, provide security, plow them when its snows) and that money has to be saved before they can do so.

    There has also been a fair amount of complaints about the new smart card fare boxes. The Port Authority is still in the pilot phase with the devices, testing to see whether or not they will do what the manufacturer says they will do under real-life conditions. It seems like that kind of real world testing of technology that has the potential to save money for the agency and make things better for riders is, um, good management.

    For those of you who are interested, I’d encourage you to read my comments to PittGirl’s Pgh Magazine blog posting here: http://www.pittsburghmagazine.com/Best-of-the-Burgh-Blogs/Pitt-Girl/June-2010/In-which-I-talk-about-elephants-as-a-viable-means-of-transportation/

    The question is, what kind of transit system does this community want, and how much is it willing to pay for it? The civic conversation needs as many good ideas as can be generated.

    – Ken Zapinski, Allegheny Conference on Community Development



  48. Ken Zapinski
    July 21, 2010 5:53 pm

    I’m sorry. I forgot to thank Virginia for her interest and attention to the transit issue, and for providing a place for this discussion to take place.



  49. Jen
    July 21, 2010 7:02 pm

    bus rider, you seem to be advocating that private sector workers should stop complaining about public sector compensation and instead take one of those cushy public jobs. The problem is that all government jobs are revenue consumers and all revenue production comes from the private sector. If everyone leaves the private sector to work for the government, who produces the revenue to pay for it all?

    The current rate of spending for government jobs (the higher-than-private-sector pay, the pensions-instead-of-401k-plans, the cheap-if-not-free-health-care-for-life, etc.) is simply not sustainable. It must be reduced. If it isn’t reduced via legislation, then it will eventually be reduced via bankruptcy. This isn’t just a problem for western pennsylvania; local and state governments across the country are on the verge of financial collapse due to underfunded public employee pension and health care liabilities.

    On the topic of changing retirement packages current/retired workers through creative legislation: I thought pensions were protected in bankruptcy, but retiree health care plans were not. Of course, that probably relies on the assumption that pension plans are required to be adequately funded in advance….

    Do I have a solution for Port Authority’s specific financial problems? No. I wish they had taken all of that “capital improvement” money wasted on boxes and buses and tunnels and instead built a rapid transit connector from the east edge of the county through downtown to the west edge, but it’s too late for that. If they have to make a choice between increasing taxes and cutting service, I say cut service. Call their bluff, if it is indeed a bluff. If it’s not a bluff, accept the consequences of decades of mismanagement at the hands of our elected leaders. Increasing taxes will not solve the problem.



  50. Mary Beth
    July 21, 2010 7:39 pm

    I live in South Park and there is no way in hell I would pay 8.00 for a ride to and from work (that is of course if there was going to be service in that aread). A ride that will take forever. Makes more sense to give the $ to the parking lots and you can come and go at your convenience without worrying about missing the bus! The Port Authority drivers get paid too much for what they do. The Managment gets paid too much!! Obviously PAT is mismanaged and always looking for a BAIL OUT. Personally, I am sick of BAILING OUT!