Second verse, same as the first.

So the Port Authority has some news and you’ll never guess what that news is in a billions years.

Go ahead. Take a guess.

Oh. You got it right!

Port Authority officials today warned of a “death spiral” of deeper service cuts along with layoffs and fare increases if Gov. Tom Corbett and the Legislature don’t resolve a statewide transportation funding crisis.

CEO Steve Bland said the agency faces a projected $64 million deficit for the fiscal year beginning next July unless state aid is increased and the authority gains significant concessions from its employee union.

If the deficit isn’t closed “we’re looking at significant curtailment of night and weekend service” including a full shutdown of the Light Rail Transit system on weekends, he said. Another 40 bus routes could be eliminated.

The Port Authority was also sure to go all shock and awe and fire and brimstone and 2012 and Death Star on our asses:

A 15 percent service reduction in March already has stranded many riders and forced others to endure severe overcrowding on buses and rail vehicles. Mr. Bland likened those reductions to “cutting into bone and muscle.”

Future rounds of cuts would be like “amputations,” he said.

So lets look at the scary language the Port Authority is using here:

  • “Death spiral”
  • “Cutting into bone and muscle”
  • “Amputations”

So, to sum up, once again, commuters are screwed and this is what your bus will look like in 2012.

Armageddon indeed.

Seriously, we might as well just start sewing giant magnets to our clothing and leaping onto passing vehicles.



  1. bucdaddy
    September 23, 2011 2:24 pm

    This reminds me of those stories out of third-world countries about once a month where a bus runs off a mountain and 200 people die.

    Meet your future, Pittsburgh.

    And BTW, wouldn’t that be great? They built the gajillion-dollar tunnel under the Al mainly to funnel Steelers fans to and from Heinz Field, and the T will be SHUT DOWN ON WEEKENDS!


    Oh, Pennsylvania, you so silly, you’re killin’ me down here in the land of “We have such a large budget surplus we have to change the law to allow us to put more money in our rainy-day fund.”

  2. unsatisfied
    September 23, 2011 2:36 pm

    holy hyperbole.

  3. TK
    September 23, 2011 2:49 pm

    In related news, Port Authority Transit becomes more bike friendly.

    They ought to be. Used to be you could walk to your bus stop. Now you need to ride a bike to it.

  4. bucdaddy
    September 23, 2011 2:59 pm

    One of the more astonishing things I’ve ever seen was on … I think it was the old Michael Palin series “Pole to Pole,” do I have the ex-Pythonite right there? Anyway, we see a clip of a train chugging through the African savannah with hundreds of Africans SITTING ON THE ROOF of the cars, which apparently was the seat you got when you couldn’t afford to buy a ticket for a seat IN the car.

    Now I can’t wait to do some trolley-surfing.

  5. Dan (Not Onorato)
    September 23, 2011 3:07 pm

    Man this movie is gettin old…

  6. Marc
    September 23, 2011 3:45 pm

    Not for nothing (and I’m sure some already know this), but “Death Spiral” is an actual term, and a pretty accurate one at that. I would argue that PAT has been in one for years and years now.
    It refers to the cycle of budget shortage–> cuts in routes and service frequency –> less riders paying for the service –> less money–> budget shortage –>cuts in routes and service frequency…etc…
    Seriously, as long as that old guy is passing out quarter billion dollars to our Universities like he’s Oprah, he should toss $100 million to PAT to end the spiral (with change-the-structure strings attatched, of course).

  7. BlackandGold
    September 23, 2011 4:01 pm

    Millions for Education vs Millions for transportation. Well, I vote for Education because apparently PAT needs some smarter people running it so they are not in this situation.

  8. NicoleinTallahassee
    September 23, 2011 4:14 pm

    Haha, I echo budcaddy’s sentiments exactly! He hit the nail on the head!

    And I bursted out laughing at the thought of people along the side of the road with giant magnets on their bodies, jumping onto cars … great way to start my weekend …

  9. not in Pittsburgh
    September 23, 2011 6:35 pm

    Maybe I’m thinking of something else, but didn’t they find a few years back several traffic barrels turned upside down FULL of meter change, thousands of $$. And wasn’t the drink tax supposed to help with the public transportation stuff. Regardless, the people in charge need to be shown the exit.

  10. Pa-Pop
    September 23, 2011 10:38 pm

    Is that photo actually a frame from a Gap commercial in New Delhi?

  11. Butcher's Dog
    September 24, 2011 8:09 am

    Is Onorato still sitting on the drink tax revenue in his hissy-fit-snit? Now THERE’S someone who needs the magnet sewn on and stood out by the Parkway.

  12. Scott
    September 24, 2011 10:12 am

    Rick Taylor referred to the PAT financial summary as “The Matrix of Doom”….

    Don’t sugarcoat it, dude…

  13. I hate you Pittsburgh
    September 24, 2011 11:28 am


  14. bucdaddy
    September 24, 2011 11:43 am

    Wait … so if I drink beer at the ballgame tomorrow, I contribute to Onorato’s stash?

    Classic definition of a dilemma.

  15. matt pritt
    September 25, 2011 1:53 am

    The great thing about this story is that, like the Port Authority repeating themselves, I can go back and use the same comment I used last time.

    “……much like the swallows coming back to Capistrano, every year the Port Authority trots out the same “woe is us” mantra, saying where we will have to cut this, and reduce service here, and raise rates there, yet nary once have I heard anyone in management talk about the cuts they are willing to make themselves, even though it is through their stewardship that we find ourselves in this recurring situation. Just as the union protects some less than stellar employees, if any of us performed as poorly in our chosen vocation as the management at the Port Authority does, we would find ourselves out on the street looking for work, not asking the public for Kleenex while crying another river of tears.”

  16. Butcher's Dog
    September 25, 2011 10:58 am

    @bucdaddy: The more beers, the less the dilemma matters. Just one of the beauties of alcohol

    Also, here’s my latest nomination for Mercer County in the ongoing struggle for awesomeness among counties. The fire department was called, and damage to the structure held to a minimum, in response to a fire at a residence in my community. The fire was started by a 10-year-old girl who was smoking under her bed. As always, I couldn’t possibly make this stuff up.

  17. bucdaddy
    September 26, 2011 12:34 am

    Fayette 2
    Mercer 2
    Westmoreland 2
    Beaver 1

  18. Cnik
    September 26, 2011 9:06 am

    PAT logic makes no sense…. they cut routes so less people will be able to ride buses, then expect more income.


  19. Ken Zapinski
    September 26, 2011 9:17 am

    People’s frustration is understandable, but everybody needs to take a deep breath and understand what’s going on. Past leadership at the Port Authority made disastrous operational and labor contract decisions in previous decades that dug an enormous hole. The current management team led by CEO Steve Bland has been trying to get things right since 2006. These problems weren’t created overnight, and they won’t be solved overnight either.

    The biggest cost obstacle the Port Authority faces is retiree healthcare costs. Philadelphia’s transit system has three times more employees, and pays less for health care for its retirees than the Port Authority. And fixing that is not something that current management can do on its own. Nor can management do anything about the fact that the Port Authority is getting less money from the state today than it was getting before the last state transportation “fix” in 2007.

    Finally, the drink tax did not provide any additional money to the Port Authority; it created a new tax so that Allegheny County did not have to raise property taxes to keep supporting the agency (

    The Port Authority has done more to reform itself in the past five years than any other transit system in the country. All of that reform — and more — is necessary, but it’s not enough on its own. Without action from the state and cooperation from the transit union, we’ll be looking a system that’s 30% smaller by this time next year.

    Ken Zapinski
    Allegheny Conference on Community Development

  20. Jim
    September 26, 2011 11:42 am

    Thank you Ken – that all makes sense, but is there anything that the citizens of Pittsburgh can do to help?

  21. Jagoff
    September 26, 2011 3:16 pm

    Weird: “Death spiral”,“Cutting into bone and muscle”,“Amputations” are all words that describe the way I feel when my taxes go up to fund the Port Authority.