Friday, May 28, 2010

PA Transportation Crisis: Port Authority Impact

Port Authority CEO Steve Bland's remarks to the Authority's Board of Directors regarding the impact of the statewide transportation crisis.

Delivered during the Board's regular monthly meeting, May 28, 2010

Last month, I cautioned that we’d soon be grappling with the statewide transportation funding crisis, and now, that time has arrived.

Since I arrived at Port Authority in 2006, we've experienced great progress in many areas and also endured a few low points too. Through it all, we've focused on finding ways to improve the agency and how it serves this community, with a specific focus on efficiency. But as we all know, change isn't always easy.

We’ve trimmed routes, eliminated positions and scaled back benefit levels. As a board, you’ve made some very difficult choices in a relatively short amount of time.

It's paid off. These moves have saved some $52 million in annual operating expenses – nearly matching the $60 million called for statewide by Gov. Rendell's Transportation Funding and Reform Commission in its 2006 report.

The nearly quarter of a million riders who use Port Authority daily also have stepped up and are paying higher fares and are adjusting to changes in their longstanding commuting habits. We have done what's been asked of us, with the hope that the passage of Act 44 by state lawmakers would resolve our chronic budget crisis. We supported Act 44 and believed it was a step in the right direction.

Our actions have been widely recognized, both in Allegheny County and around the Commonwealth. But Act 44 has not lived up to the intentions of its creators, and we are now faced with a Statewide transportation funding crisis, which is particularly acute here in Allegheny County.

Today, we face a $50.6 million budget deficit and have little more than a month to find solutions. The good news is, it was a $52 million projected deficit last month when I reported to you. Frankly, we wouldn't be in this position today if Act 44 had delivered on its original intent.

State lawmakers did the right thing in 2007 by adopting this law. It was a bold and historic move to carve out a dedicated funding source for transportation. It was intended to be an adequate, reliable, predictable and growing source of funds for the upkeep of our extensive road and bridge network, as well as for the numerous public transit systems that dot the Commonwealth.

The reality is, now three years after its passage, those intentions have not panned out.

  • First, in contrast with other areas of the State which saw significant increases in operating aid when Act 44 passed, Port Authority saw an initial reduction in funding when compared with the prior year.

  • Second, since that time, annual growth in operating aid (intended to be inflationary in nature) has averaged just over ¼ % per year.

  • Third, given the current recession and reliance on Sales Tax proceeds to partially fund the Act, we may actually see an additional reduction in funding next year.

  • Fourth, when coupled with above inflationary trends in major expense line items like healthcare, fuel and (due to the 2007 stock market collapse) pension contributions; all beyond our control; our funding status was already precarious.

  • Finally, and most recently, in April of this year, one of the most crucial underpinnings of the law – the tolling of Interstate 80 – was disapproved by the Federal government. This one decision alone had the effect of reducing the already inadequate transit funding level by 37-1/2%.

Early in my management career, one of my supervisors confronted me with a significant mistake that had been made by one of my staff. In one of those real learning moments that we all encounter from time to time, I tried to defend myself; saying “I wasn’t aware of the error,” and “I wasn’t the one who made the mistake.” My supervisor calmly told me “Steve, it may not be your fault, but it is your problem – fix it!”

Today, I would give that same message to our State Legislators. They didn’t create the current transportation funding crisis, but they are the only people who can fix it.

Governor Rendell and his administration have been very clear in their support for a fix. Now, that leaves only the Legislature to do the job. All we're asking them to do is finish what they started. This was the right move then, and it's the right direction now.

Without a solution, we will be forced to consider various scenarios to balance our budget. None of these fall into the category of “efficiency,” or “right-sizing.” They will all fall into the category of “draconian,” and “damaging.”

We will provide more detail over the next couple months, but they include several alternatives, including eliminating many more routes, cutting weekend and evening service, and increasing fares significantly.

No less important, more crucial “state of good repair” capital projects will be deferred, increasing the likelihood of further service disruptions as we’ve seen over the past month.

Whatever options we choose, it will touch every aspect of our community. It will affect union workers, corporations, schools, universities and medical centers; as well as all corners of Allegheny County. The cuts will impact the shape of Port Authority forever. We'll have no choice but to layoff hundreds of employees and shut down at least one bus division. The Port Authority that serves us today will not be the Port Authority that exists afterward. And I fear that, once it’s gone, it can never come back.

For a City its size, Pittsburgh enjoys one of the best transit systems and highest levels of ridership in the nation. The same can be said for our brothers and sisters in Philadelphia, and in many other smaller communities in the Commonwealth. Whether or not this distinction, and competitive advantage, can continue is now in play at the State level.

These are tough decisions and this is a crucial moment. We wish there was another option or more time to find a solution. We're out of options and out of time.

This Board will act on a budget next month and decide in July about service levels and fares. Public hearings will be scheduled shortly thereafter. Although we recognize the Legislature has many critical problems on their plate, and we truly wish they had more time to consider this one; we’ve simply run out of time. Obviously, we will be communicating all of these details to the public as they develop.

139 comments:

  1. This is inexcusable. For the Port Authority and our state government to rely on funds that were not assured in planning a budget is ridiculous. Now who will suffer? Those who need this service. People like myself who are disabled and the senior citizens of this county who have no other means of transportation. We have already paid higher fares for the past several years. We are already undergoing route cuts with the Transit Development Plan. We have already paid the price. Why is it that we continue to have to pay more for less? This is a disgrace while funds paid for the tunnel under the river could have done so much more to help this situation. Quit making the public pay for the inability of the Port Authority and state government to manage transit properly. This should have been addressed long before Act 44 fell through but your ignorance yet again will fall on the shoulders of the people of Pittsburgh.

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  2. I'm wondering if the lack of commentary on this blog entry is due to the utter shock and disbelief the readers are experience at the moment they finish reading. This information is outrageous and sickening.

    As an individual who has lived in or traveled to every neighborhood in and surrounding the city via public transit, experiencing the blows of service cuts and price increases has been dwarfed by what is said here. I do not own a car. The only forms of transportation I possess are a bike, my own two feet, and a Port Authority bus pass. I have lived here for 8 years but visited many other places and used their public transport as well. For the size and population of the city, despite some of the minor irritations in lack of service to certain areas, this transit system (until the recent butcher cuts it's been dealt) is fairly efficient when used properly, particularly during the 'rush hour' times. Nearly every bus I step onto between 7 and 9 am is packed full, or at least every seat is filled.

    What does this mean to the pit of despair you are gravedigging in the middle of Stanwix? But of course that will be completed and kept in lieu of the neighborhood routes. Go Steelers. Gotta keep that city morale up! /sarcasm. What will the fare be after this? $5 a ride? To get from Shadyside to Downtown? Because heaven knows the Shadyside folks and Pitt students can't be without their every-block bus stops. Who cares about Wilkinsburg or anything North of Penn Avenue? Those cuts will already be starting in roughly 2 weeks' time. No one will notice. Let's just get rid of the East Hills entirely and add a fourth or fifth bus to Shadyside's route list! Brilliant. It's super-important we can get from Bakery Square to Southside Works, gosh golly.

    Transit in this city is taking a nose dive, cost of living is increasing, jobs are shaky, and traffic is getting nuts because of un-needed construction projects that scare everyone away from the Downtown area as soon as the 5 o'clock whistle blows. Yes, there is an economic plague in this country right now. But you can't keep people in a city that is un-navigable when living in the boondocks 3 miles from Wal-Mart SuperCenter is more cost-effective with the necessity of 2 or 3 cars in a family.

    I'm just ranting at this point. As we should, since integrity is being thrown out the window at us as Port Authority flips riders the bird and switches it's destination sign to PEACE OUT.

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  3. I depend upon the Port Authority, but you know what? If it dies, then maybe an organization that knows how to create a workable budget can take over. 65K and up a year for driving a bus? Pathetic.

    "Some PAT Drivers Earn Over $100,000 A Year"
    http://www.wpxi.com/news/15305374/detail.html

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  4. ^^ryan, you obviously don't know what you are talking about.

    NO ONE will take over the transit system here any time in the near future. STATE FUNDING is being cut. Who is going to personally fund that? you? me? ravenstahl? ha! only on his street.

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  5. You mean a local government didn't deliver on what they promised? Shocked, shocked I tell you!

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  6. Fired PAT driverMay 29, 2010 at 12:18 AM

    Wow am i glad that i was fired from port authority recently...During traning there was so much stuff that went on that could save money if it was cut, I dont feel bad about being fired, It was for a crap reason but it was for the better, Atleast i wont be laid off....Goodbye port authority!

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  7. I disagree on possibility eliminating late night bus service! I go to First Night Pittsburgh every year, park my car at Shadyside then take the bus to downtown. After midnight, catch the bus back to Shadyside and drive home!! I want no SERVICE CUTS!!!!! Or I am forced to drive my car!!

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  8. I know it's a county authority but suburbanites get far superior service than city residents. People who live in the city should be able to count on public transportation. People who work in town and choose to live outside of the city should have thought of that when they chose to reap the benefits without paying the price. They should shoulder more of the cuts. Efficient public tranportation for city dwellers can open the roads so the subarbanites can have an easier drive and they can pay to park. Further public transportation service cuts will accellerate this region's decline. Cut your salaries PAT.

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  9. I am a full time student at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, and a fledgling full time multimedia professional. I make a insignificant amount of money this early in my career (hopefully with hard work that will change), and my school bills are astronomical. Having a car is simply not an option for me at this point of my life. I have to take the Incline to get down to school, though lately, the 41E has needed to get me to and fro from home since the computer keeps frying out on the Mon. I rely on roughly a dozen busses to get to my various employers. A service reduction or a fare increase would be right-out devastating to me.

    Every day I see improper fare practices, either missed fares, confusion on when to pay, extra transfers, or patrons simply not paying. I believe if PA would switch to a system like is seen in New York City, a rechargeable card-based system, this could result in a significant reduction of this deficit. Just a suggestion.

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  10. Every Year routes are cut, service declines, fares increase, employees threaten to strike. Will this system ever benefit those who rely on it? How can Pittsburgh "claim" to be a major city trying to go "green" with such a declining public transit system. This is one of many reasons that students attend Pittsburgh Universities and are taking their degrees elsewhere. If you can escape Pittsburgh..Go and maybe if the population declines as much as the service..someone might get the message.

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  11. Wow...great job Port Authority! How about stop wasteful spending? Employees do have high salaries in comparison with other service oriented occupations. Do they put up with more than bank tellers, customer service reps, or supermarket employees, or counselors? I think not! If your job deals with the public, it will be challenging..so there is no need to complain when you are getting well compensated for it.

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  12. It's pretty sad when you consider the economic impact of cutting evening and weekend services. First of all you effect employees all over the city that work "off" business hours who rely on public transportation to make a living and provide for their families. Everyone doesn't work 9-5 Monday through Friday and nor should they have to. Cuting these services will also effect merchants. How will an already bad economy look when merchants see less activity in stores, malls, restaurants and entertainment complexes and sporting events. Third putting more vehicles on the road during these hours will pullute an already poor air quality that Pittsburgh is already known for. My question is, who would benefit from this other than Port Authority CEO's trying to save their jobs instead of solving the problem and the gas and motor vehicle industry which will reap from higher demands?

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  13. I'm so sick and tired of hearing about what the drivers have to put up with from the public. Yes, you are in a profession that deals with the public. Let's be realistic here, okay? The majority of the public does not create any problems for you. The minority may. So deal with it and don't pin that on all of us or make it out to be that your jobs are so difficult. And don't tell me to drive a bus or trolley to see what it is like unless you are willing to do my job for a day too, which believe me, you would not be able to handle. Let me say that I'm tired of putting up with the rudeness and inconsiderate behavior from drivers, which is almost all of them. I was at the Castle Shannon stop, which I rarely stop at, waiting for a SHV car so I could get to a dying family member before he passed. I waited for 45 minutes as cars went by that were not going to SHV. I asked two drivers who stopped to let off passengers if they were going to SHV. In both instances, I received a curt and rude, "no" then a turn of the head away from me. Neither of them told me I could get on their car and go one more stop and pick up a SHV car there. $65K and up to drive a bus or trolley and be rude and unfriendly to the people who help pay their salaries? I'd be fired from my job for being as ignorant to people as these idiots are who only have to sit on their butts and not put any thought into their job other than driving.

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  14. Unfortunately, we've removed several posts due to the use of improper language or personal attacks. This blog is open, and intended to provide a forum for anyone to express their opinion. All we ask is that you don't cross these lines. Please, have your say, but be considerate.

    Thank you.

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  15. Maybe this is another wakeup call for me. I may have to relocate in the next few years.

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  16. I think there is a complete disconnect between the public and the government/port authority that needs to be bridged. First of all, no one with any business sense would have allowed the outrageous sum of money spent on the North Shore connector to go through. I worked on the North Shore for a few years and found it quicker and easier to merely walk the bridge even in the dead of winter than wait for a second bus, yet we're spending all that cash that could have been put to better use by upgrading the actual bus service we all depend on locally.

    As it is, the cuts are troubling, but this latest threat - and it is a threat, one that this city has to go through Steve Bland issuing about every six months to a year for some unknown reason - will surely have a huge impact on the local economy. If the port authority was properly managed and the state making responsible transportation decisions, there wouldn't need to be so many threats made. As someone who doesn't own a car and has relied on the buses for nearly 25 years, I certainly couldn't afford to buy a car now, so that would mean going to work and home, and that's it. All of my volunteer work would stop, I would never be able to shop outside of the area I could walk to, any event going on in town would be inaccessible, I couldn't go to the library and get books out, couldn't take classes, etc. So I think it would ultimately cost the jobs of people whose business relies on the customers brought by buses. It would definitely cause the community to suffer and lower the overall quality of life in the city. Public transportation is an absolute necessity, and perhaps tough decisions need to be made regarding how the port authority is managed to ensure it doesn't get reduced any further than the latest cuts.

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  17. I have lived near Pitts burgh for almost 10 years, i love it here, you can take the bus anywhere you want to go. I just got a job in East Liberty, if they cut the busses how will i ever get to work and back and make money? But, hey PAT doesnt care about that, or us, dont you realize this people? Noone cares about the little people like us, were insignificant, even though were the ones who pay their salaries.
    I read a post that someone said how rude and unfriendly the drivers are? I agree, some of them are down right mean! I was on the phone once on the bus talking and a bus driver told me to shut up, even tho i've been on a bus with screaming kids, yelling ppl, loud music and noone has ever yelled at them.
    PAT would also not be so damn broke if their money machines didnt break down all the time, i cant count how many times ive gotten on the bus and got a free ride cause the machine was broken.
    And dont get me started on the reliability of the busses! I once waited 20 minutes for the G2 to show up, and when it did she didnt even apologize or mention anything.... apparantly that bus is ALWAYS late, the G1 driver told me that they wait for the G1 to go by and then go behind it. What? Are they to dumb to find their own ways or is that lazy??
    Then again i have met VERY nice bus drivers, ones where u get on the wrong bus and they give you a transfer free of charge and then tell you where to get off so you can catch ur right bus, i even had a bus driver go out of his way and get me to Wal-Mart even tho service had been cut from there.
    So they are not all bad, but i think a serious class in customer interaction is in dire need!

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  18. Let Walmart take over Who needs good jobs and good service

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  19. its the union people...don't believe a word they say about how desperate they are...the people at the top makes hundreds of thousands of dollars doing nothing...if port authority was privatized these problems would be over instantly...

    just think what healthcare is going to be like in a few years once government gives you it...you think riding the bus is a pain..

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  20. """Wow...great job Port Authority! How about stop wasteful spending? Employees do have high salaries in comparison with other service oriented occupations. Do they put up with more than bank tellers, customer service reps, or supermarket employees, or counselors? I think not! If your job deals with the public, it will be challenging..so there is no need to complain when you are getting well compensated for it."""

    this isnt a bank tellers job. its the type of job that leaves you out in the suburbs- late at night to get beat up, robbed or stabbed.
    high earnings potentials are ONLY possible because a select "few" out of over 2500 employees have no personal life and live their lives behind the steering wheel-driving YOU to work.
    why is it that the public LOVES the port authority when asked, praise the employees for their hard and dependable service, give the authority high marks for accomplishment but then runs the employees and the company into the ground when times are tough??
    thanks for the pride and neighborly support.
    thanks for running people into the ground and talking about how they should just have their job abolished. my daughter and son will love to hear that we're now homeless because the people the rely on me and praise me couldnt stand behind me when times are tough--- not that its costing them any more to do so.
    if you feel that the job pays so well for the work performed.... did you apply to work there?? seems like you could be living "the good life" on easy street if you worked there. huh?!

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  21. ya wanna know what is wrong with PAT... govt and union b/s. govt pays too much for too little and unions make sure folks that do too little get paid as much as those who work for their money and protect them from getting fired. sure i could drive a bus, i know lots of folks who can drive a bus.. fire the deadbeats at PAT and vote out the deadbeats in office.

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  22. If you want to get spit on shot at drinks over your head people cutting you off all day because they dont want to behind a bus then you should go and get an app for a job here better yet if you want someone that will do that for 10 dollars an hour there is something wrong with you cause its not worth the 24.75 we make now

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  23. in ALL of MY time at the port-- i have never actually witnessed ANYONE slacking or not working hard for their money-- without being written up or fired (just like any place else). i know that its "fun" to bash unionized employees for some of you-- but its not actually the reality of our work days. what does being unionized do for us? less than it would have 30-40 years ago. it probably does about the same for us that many of you have with company run employee assistance programs and various other programs-- its NOT some organization promoting employees to be overpaid while doing Nothing for their paychecks!!!
    its just not the reality.
    lets tackle the Real and Important issues.....
    we need a Strong funding source to enable us to continue to provide low cost (to the rider) public transit services so that our residents aren't paying an extra couple thousand dollars a year in transportation costs to get to work and school.
    if all of you have suddenly become independently wealthy and that doesnt bother you then read no further. for the rest of you-- stand behind the service that you depend on! otherwise, expect to have to work or attend school much closer to home because you may not be able to afford the commute. lets not forget that the port authority has arranged various funding sources so that our tax payers can ride the bus, trolley and access for damn near free! the same trip by taxi would be substantially more money! and multiply that by two commutes per day.
    this Is Not a money making entity- so privatization would not work. the private entities would have to petition for funding-- to keep operating and keeping the expense off of YOUR wallet. they would be starting from scratch- which would mean MASSIVE service cuts and a couple years of No Service in our county until reestablished. and that is IF the funding is reestablished.
    you cant privatize and pay people less than what the going rate is for a particular job in a particular industry-- whether you agree with the amounts or not. any of you that have a problem with labor rates can feel free to contact the dept of labor and ask them to de-rate the amounts that they consider "fair" in a given specific industry.
    while you are at it... ask them to knock down the wages of lawyers. im tired of paying mine 300 an hour. ask them to lower the wage of electricians --because im tired of paying 50-90 an hour when i need one. ask them to lower plumbers wages so that i dont have to pay 100 bucks for someone to spend 10 minutes snaking my drain. and while you are at it, ask them to lower Your wage rating so that Your company can reduce Your wage and enable them to reduce the price of their product-- so that the rest of us can afford to purchase the items and services that your company offers.
    yep. lets ignore that life costs money. lets reverse inflation. lets knock down the hard working local people that You depend on and put them out of a job. good plan!

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  24. oh the poor hard-working argument...i hate union people...you make up less than 10% of the jobs in this country and yet you act like the rest of us owe you big time...how about this...most people have absolutely no pension coming and don't get to retire at age 50...so shut up with the stupid complaining...we might have needed unions 100 years ago but they are just big corrupt organizations now...i'd love to see a private company come in...pay you what you actually should make minus the pension..and actually make you run routes on time and lower costs for those riding...i have no pity whatsoever for anyone in a union...and most of the rest of the country has run out of patience with you as well...we all have to take pay cuts unlike you and we have all had to pay more for health insurance unlike you...so do us a favor and shut up...

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  25. Again, we've had to remove posts today because the authors insist on using this forum for personal attacks. We encourage use of this blog to share all views. However, we won't tolerate the use of foul language or attacks of a personal nature.

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  26. just wait people...see all the complaining port authority does...guess when they go bankrupt who will be paying their outrageous salaries and healthcare benefits...the taxpayers...hopefully at that people the country will actually revolt...and abolish unions...

    sorry port authority...you might have once been able to hide how much you pay and how much you make....but in the information age now...we all know when you are lying...

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  27. The situation with Port Authority's funding dilemma is tragic. The Port Authority provides a crucial role in the day to day activities of so many Allegheny County residents. As their old slogan went, they "connect people to life." Port Authority helps those who are transit dependant (those with no car or reliable vehicle) and transit elect (those who elect or choose to ride the bus due to saving money, reducing green house gases, reducing traffic, reducing driving related stress, etc) get to and from work, school, shopping, entertainment, medical and more.

    The CEO brings out some very good points in this article. I do believe the Port Authority has done a lot to cut costs and be as financially conservative as can be. And understand the Port Authority, even before Mr. Bland accepted the position, has made an honest and sincere attempt to provide residents of Allegheny County with a safe, reliable and cost effective form of public transportation.

    As population shifts have occurred in the county within the nearly 50 years since it's inception, the Port Authority has made honest attempts to keep up new communities and the needs it of riders. This was confirmed by the past experiences of Jill Harris regarding transit even 20 years ago in a recent "South Pittsburgh Reporter" article. Countless others can vouch for the amount of service and accommodations the transit system has provided over it‘s history.

    A successful mass transit company requires to be primarily located in a dense residential area. As urban sprawl continues, the dense population from Pittsburgh moved out to the suburbs. Transit 50 years ago primarily brought people into downtown Pittsburgh, Oakland and even North Side (Allegheny Center) for work, shopping and entertainment. Now, we see more "reverse" commuters going to shop at suburban Shopping Malls, suburban office complexes, shopping centers and housing. New routes are even longer than before (the 59A West Mifflin-Monroeville, which became the 59 Mon Valley is proof of that) and many require longer “on-road” travel, such as 13K Marshall Express. Time is money. And these routes are far more expensive to operate with additional mileage than the simpler routes like 11D Perrysville and 81B Lincoln, which were incorporated from routes previous to the Port Authority take over in the 1960s. Both 11D and 81B terminate no more than a mile or two from it’s respective garage and travel primarily through dense transit dependant and transit elect populations. In short, Urban Sprawl works against transit.

    The Port Authority continues to face uncontrollable rising costs with Health Care and Retirement Costs. The costs of fuel continues to fluctuate and no one can keep it’s costs within reason. We have seen regular unleaded 87 grade gasoline go from everywhere between $1.99 to $4.09 per gallon in the past few years, and the diesel fuel the buses require to operate on has shifted similarly.

    Contrary to what Drink Tax Dan Onarato may have said in the past, the Port Authority is not a business and can not run much more like a business. The Port Authority and all mass transit systems throughout the country are a public service. No, not even one, transit system in the USA that I am aware of, runs with some sort of subsidy, whether public or private. Many routes are not as productive as others because they focus on those who will be disconnected altogether from transit if their route did not exist. Routes with primarily senior citizens or those living with disabilities may depend on such routes. Other routes are there for Welfare-to-Work and other similar programs which help those who are less fortunate to become independent with work. Not all of us were given a shiny new car on our 16th birthdays. Many of us are truly living the American Dream…starting at nothing working our way to the top. Transit plays a role in that.

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  28. Concerns have arisen that drivers are making between $65,000-$100,000 per year and are drastically over paid. Sadly, people have choose to open their mouth prior to crunching the numbers. The Top Rate of a Port Authority bus driver at this time, to the best of my knowledge is $24.75 per hour. Once a driver hits that rate, he or she can not receive a higher hourly wage. $24.75 an hour, working 40 hours per week, 52 weeks per year brings in $51,480 Gross. To make $65,000 per year, at top rate, a driver would have to work 47 hours per week on average EVERY WEEK, perhaps six days per week. Again, if that same driver was not at Top Rate, he or she would have to work that many more hours per week.

    And for a driver to earn $100,000 per year, at Top Rate, he or she would have to work an average of a mind numbing 66 hours per week every week. That’s 8 shifts per week. In plain terms, working every day of the week and possibly doubling out one of those days. Do you work that hard? I know I don’t. But then again, we don’t get paid $100,000 per year either. A driver has dedicated his entire life, literally, to making sure you get where you need to go. And once again, a driver who makes less than top rate would have to work even more hours than that!

    The Port Authority can not nor will not be able to divert funds from the “North Shore Connector Project” (Light Rail to the North Shore) nor any other “Capital Project”. Funding as been specially allocated for these projects. The Port Authority has two options for NSCP funds…use them or loose them. This is similar to how a low income individual can not use his or her Section 8 voucher to pay their gas bill and you can’t use Student Loan Disbursements for a car payment. The Port Authority conducted public hearings and public comment periods for the North Shore Connector Project in the Summer of 2000. To my knowledge, the Port Authority has such comment periods/events for all major Capital Projects that will use a considerable amount of your tax dollars. If you have concerns about how your tax dollars are being spent, perhaps you should show up/call/write/e-mail during such open periods…not rant and rave about it ten years later.

    Many people are proposing that our Legislators increase taxes and fees. Whereas I agree the Port Authority deserves to be properly funding, this is not the time for Pennsylvanians to pay more taxes and fees during an Economical Recession. Many people are looking for work, draining out their savings, relying on unemployment compensation and scaling back to survive these hard times. The cost of living has gone up, and residents of this great state can not afford to pay more. More in fares and especially not more in taxes and fees. For our economy to get back on the right track, we need to cut taxes, not raise them.

    Perhaps before we entertain the idea of raising taxes, should we not first make sure we are receiving all the subsidies from the controversial Allegheny County Poured Drink Taxes? Such taxes have hit the entertainment, tourism and dining industries and if they continue to be collected, they need to continued to be used for what they are intended for. If more money is still needed, perhaps the Port Authority can work with the County to receive a larger percentage of the tax dollars collected. If more money is still needed, perhaps we are willing to sacrifice other things that are being paid for by tax revenue so such money could be diverted to the Port Authority and other PA Transit Systems.

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  29. Just like many residents who during tough times rely on money they put aside when times were a bit better, the Port Authority itself needs to be permitted to engage in such a sound financial practice. Current Pennsylvania Law prohibits the Port Authority from having a “Savings” or “Rainy Day Account” so that budget surpluses from one year could help cover budget shortfalls in the future. Everyone needs to write/call/text/e-mail/visit their State Lawmakers (State Rep, State Senator and Governor) and demand this law be amended. If the Port Authority was aloud to save money, we may not be facing such a “draconian” future.

    If concessions are needed, I would suggest all employees of the Port Authority take the same percentage of pay cut. I am grown tired of the finger pointing between Union and Non-Union employees done by the general public, the media and politicians. If the ATU Local 85 agrees to a wage concession of, let’s say, 5% with pay freezes for three years, than so should all non-union employees as well as Port Authority Police. Everyone from the CEO to the drivers to the Customer Service Reps would all be giving an equal percentage.

    I highly doubt raising the fares will accomplish much. They have gotten to a high enough level, especially when groups or families try to utilize the service. Imagine taking either two buses round trip or one bus each way at a 2 zone rate. It is becoming too expensive, and there is no point in having a bus route if you can not afford to ride it.

    If left with no option, we should consider eliminating weekend service before evening service for many people work 3-11p or 3p-11:30p shifts. Instead of loosing service two days per week, they would loose service every day of the week. That would completely destroy their ability to provide for themselves, causing them to loose their jobs. Loosing their jobs would mean they would have to rely on public assistance and the state would receive less in tax revenue, thereby would have less to give to the Port Authority and on goes the downward cycle.

    Perhaps the Port Authority could look into allowing other private companies to use the Busways (excluding South Busway between Palm Garden/W Warrington Ramp and Station Square) for a fee to raise additional revenue.

    This is not a favorable situation. Instead of bashing the Port Authority or it’s employees (both union and non-union) or yell about what we do not understand, we should all work together and everyone needs to be willing to give a little.

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  30. CORRECTION! I said "Not one transit company operates with subsidies." I ment to say WITHOUT! I apologize for any confusion. That was a typo.

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  31. I agree with almost all of Samuel's comments and I recommend carefully reading them because some of the information that he wrote will help you realize why and how this is occuring.

    I also want to add that while the topic is about Port Authority's budget constraints as a result of reduced transit funding, this issue will be statewide. Every transit agency in Pennsylvania will be having similar budget crises that will be proportional to the size of the system. SEPTA (Philadelphia) is seeing about $100 Million shortfall (10% of their budget) as a result of no tolling of I-80. Many of the smaller agencies have not released figures but some have had press releases related to the recent budget crisis. I would guess that shortfalls of every agency would be of a similar percentage (10-20%).

    I can even add that transit funding is a nationwide issue that is more severe in some areas than others. CTA (Chicago) faced major budget issues and reduced service and laid off 1,000 employees in February and I am unsure if the issue will be resolved (i.e. restoration of routes). MTA (New York City) [Yes...the Transit capital of the US] is considering Bus and Subway reductions (to be implemented this month) as a result of budget issues. New Jersey Transit also reduced service and raised fares on both bus and rail throughout New Jersey last month. Even the transit friendly Portland, Oregon saw cuts in TriMet rail and bus service.

    What all these systems had in common is that they took major strides in making sure there was broad service coverage and did not do a blanket weekend, evening, or other type of general cut. Most routes had reduced frequencies and eliminated routes were often ones that had alternative service (or were such low performing routes that they regretfully had to be cut). Some lines also did have redutions in hours of service but usually there was some sort of alternative service nearby either from previous existance or by way of a restructured route.

    I strongly recommend for Port Authority to do its best to make sure that core services continue to run 7 days per week from 4am to 2am (approximate current operating hours) while looking to see where efficiencies can be gained by frequency reductions or route consolidations. Try to reserve route eliminations or service hour reductions to areas where alternative service exists nearby (or can be re-routed nearby).

    I don't want to see service reductions, but if they are done, I hope that they are well thought out and that generally all hours and locations would continue to be served, but just less frequently.

    The TDP could help Port Authority in defining the heirarchy of routes where the Light Rail, Busway (local truck lines), future RapidBus, and Focused Corridor routes would keep their schedules with minor changes while the rest of the routes would be restructured to retain as much coverage and service hours as possible either by frequency reductions or short turns of routes feeding the major lines during off peak periods. The feeder approach may even cause the major trunk line services to be untouched by reductions due to high ridership as a result of additional off peak traffic due to feeders.

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  32. I'm curious to know why it ends up in turn to be the commuters faults and we in turn have to end up PAYING for it, I mean was it really needed that we build a NORTH SHORE connector for 522 million dollars???????????? Plus when I used to drive to work I notice that a Port auth bus will stop to pick up people every 200 feet on route 30 in forest hills, is that really needed, why cant they all get on in one spot. Instead of putting a North shore connector maybe the busway should be continued to monroeville to get to and from quicker without traffic, or a trolley system be put in place for people on the east. I live in Monroeville area and there is nothing that helps commuters get to and from, no HOV lane (thanks penn dot) no bus way until you get to wilkinsburg. Maybe you would have more people ride the busses if there were more options like a trolley or the busway being extended. I'm sure its not as easy as it sounds but to me a north shore connector was stupid.....woooo I can get to steelers games faster now, and go to the casino and waste my hard earned money. Also I notice when I leave for work to get the 68A home sometimes I leave at 4pm and get a bus shortly after that, the bus is huge!!!!!!! Then the bus that comes at 4:40 and closer to 5 and after are smaller, which makes no sense to me since ummmm most people work till 5 so we are all crammed on the thing like sardines!!!! ok so I said my part which I'm sure wont mean a thing but really its not fair to us the working people to pay for your mistakes!

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  33. To Ryan who thinks the drivers get paid to much - when you go to work and get spit on or shot at and also drive anywhere from 2.5 - 3 hours without a break and get paid only 15 dollars an hour then you can talk. Just shut up because you just make yourself look stupid. Not only will you have no port authority transportation my family like many others will be directly affected as just another job to be lost and the unemployment rates to skyrocket. Now does that make any sense??

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  34. Jennifer you hit it a waste of money on the tunnel to nowhere. Now that was REALLY Smart!!

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  35. Why don't you use the littler buses when rider's demand is not so called upon.

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  36. How about not putting another penny in the "tunnel." That idea was absurd.

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  37. It was stated in an earlier comment that the riders who live in the suburbs should pay the most to ride...well, we do. We also pay a lot of the taxes to the county to maintain the port authority. We also need the bus service as quite a few people who live in the suburbs don't drive and need the buses to get our groceries, go to the doctors, etc. We have as much right to decent service as people who live closer to the city. To tell the truth the people who come into the city to work each day keeps the city alive.

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  38. Never in my life have I ever seen such mindless behavior. The shortage is from a funding shift that is not there because of act 44.
    Did you read. State funding has not kept up with inflation, much like most peoples wages. The solution is not to cut wages but to realize that at some point we must pay for things we need. Everyone wants a free ride. Good paying jobs is what everyone strives for. Ask yourself, are you, your family or friends better off if you take a pay cut. Those are the people who work at PAT friends, family. Stop complaining about good jobs for all and instead work on trying to get a different job if your not happy with your pay. Maybe be a bus driver. PS I am a Manager a retail store and happy to see some good jobs left for anyone who can manage and handle the public. (Most underrated and underpaid line of work)

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  39. not saying cutting bus drivers wages are the answer, but if the port authority doesn't have the money to pay for wage increases, how are the able to? and there won't be as many good jobs if the port authority cuts weekend service, right? so some drivers have a choice...pay cut/free or get laid off. if i made that much money, i'd rather loose a dollar an hour than to get laid off.

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  40. that for the info
    how about donation ?
    you call by hannah banana or hanjie

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  41. Once again we have had to delete comments due to use of foul language. We understand that many commenters here are frustrated or angry, and everyone is welcome to express their opinions and feelings. We just ask that you do so in a civil manner. Many other online forums and blogs have similar policies.

    Again, we'll be deleting comments with personal attacks or foul language, including attempts to get around this policy by use of asterisks or other symbols.

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  42. I thought buses are disabled or old people or jest can't aford a car.There should be no reson to move jest to be on a bus line.Know i am going to have to get two busses to get to work when it use to take one this makes no sence to me at all jest because you need money what about the people that don't work 9 to 5?know i hear you want to cut more and raise bus fair this makes no sence.
    The only thing i can say we need a new bus line!!!

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  43. I don't know if I'm the first to mention this, but I think it is time for universities' staff and students to pay more than the amount dcurrently budgeted in their activities fees to ride the bus. When I lived in Squirrel Hill the bus would be packed and more than half would empty out in the blocks between CMU and Pitt. Not only was I inconvenienced by crowding, I am handicapped and would not be able to get a seat. The reason buses appear to not be running "full" is simply because the students get essentially a free ride anywhere in the city, any time of day or night. When I was at Pitt I paid, why can't the students of today? Even a quarter per ride would give much needed funds to the transit system. I work in South Side and lived in Squirrel Hill. The 79U was a godsend because it saved me 30 minutes or more just one way, but because it appeared empty according to paying customers it was cut. I was fed up with the high taxes of living and working in Pittsburgh so I moved to Verona . . . where bus service will soon become inconvenient and crowded besides. This is not what going green is about. It's about making the transit system pay for itself by being there when it is needed. But it's not, so more and more people are using their cars to commute because they don't want to get to work 30-45 minutes early and not be able to get a bus that takes them home in a few minutes of waiting. An 11 hour work day due to commuting time is not fun, and not something people appreciate paying such a high fare for.

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  44. Actually, those schools are paying more. Port Authority has worked with local universities in recent years to improve these agreements.

    The University of Pittsburgh will pay Port Authority more than $5.9 million this year so that its students may use our services. Next year, Pitt will pay nearly $6.8 million -- about double what it was paying in 2007.

    Along the same lines, other local schools are paying more. Carnegie Mellon University, for example, will pay us more than $1.3 million this year. It was paying about $1 million two years ago.

    These are significant changes. However, they - alone - are not enough to fill the void left by the collapse of the state's transportation funding law, Act 44.

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  45. Port Authority, that is a good start. Much like the ideas I have proposed, every little bit helps. There may or may not be a single solution for funding. It may be a little bit here and a little bit there.

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  46. I have a problem with my bus the P17 having service into town in the morning but nothing going back into my neighborhood from town until 3:05 pm.
    How are people suppose to get to and from
    Jobs, Doctor appointments etc?

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  47. i think everything will work out for the best when all said and done i have faith in the port authority

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  48. Steve Bland is acting just like the CEO of AIG. You shouldn't have to rely on government to support your business. I don't call Governor Rendell if I can't pay my bills. Suck it up and find a better solution to your budget deficit. Like maybe giving up your yearly extravagant bonuses,charging students and senior citizens to ride the bus and fix the money machines on the bus. Half the time the bus driver tells us the machine isn't working I can't take your money or one bus driver tells the bus riders that have to stand, "You don't have to pay today if you have to stand". Here is a novel idea fix the darn equipment and the bus and you will take in more revenue.....

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  49. I challenge Mr. Bland to ride the bus with me for a week. I take the HP (Holiday Park Flyer). I wouldn't bother looking at the schedule Mr. Bland, the bus drivers show up when they feel like it. I hope it isn't raining on the day you'd ride the bus because it actually rains inside the bus. Hope you aren't tired because most of the headrests are broken and if you ride in the last row of the bus, don't sit in the middle seat, you'll sink in it. Hopefully it won't be too hot on your ride home because most of the time the air conditioning doesn't work, hence the bus pulls up with all of its windows open. On especially cold mornings, you will enjoy feeling the frigid effects of the air conditioner blowing on you for 45 minutes on your way in, that is if the bus doesn't break down on the Parkway after smoking from the back for a while. This is the main problem. You keep raising bus fares without raising service. The buses aren't getting fixed, the bus drivers are more miserable than ever and you do nothing to rectify this. You don't need a bail out from the government, you need competition. Another busline to come in and force you to step up your game....

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  50. Okay...question for you all....Has anyone else had issues with broken down buses over the last few weeks. No kidding, the 68J to McKeesport has broken down 6 times in two weeks. They keep putting that broken down horse 3054 back on the road. And going home, that is a nightmare, either the bus is extremely late or doesnt show at all. I am not exagerating when I tell you that my days are 11 to 11 1/2 hrs each day. I have had very nice drivers say that they will be off the next day and that they have informed PA and sure enough, that persons route is not covered and there is a "no show" the next day.

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  52. "express" now there is a nice word in theory...I believe the 68J is an "express" bus too.....Have you tried the P7? Not really an "express".....again...sounds good but no....

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  53. And the P7 runs every 30 mins and heaven help you if one of those doesnt show....Maybe they could put park benches along that route...hahaha

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  54. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  55. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  56. This thread is intended for people wishing to express their views on Port Authority's financial issues and the statewide transportation crisis. Please avoid using this to voice complaints about routes or other experiences. We'd be happy to take those comments on our Twitter feed @pghtransit. If it's a pressing matter, call Customer Service for help. We will continue to remove comments that are personal attacks or disputes.

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  57. Hmmm. Perhaps the Port Authority could create a blog with no other purpose rather than allowing people to vent about perticular routes and issues. Just a thought.

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  58. I'm tired of hearing PAT complain about their budget woes. WE HAVE TO LIVE with cut routes, bus stops moving a mile from where they used to be. You then say we have to raise fares because ridership is down....then guess what? RIDERSHIP...declines...AGAIN...then OF COURSE more fare increases, more routes go away.

    Now if this was a business, you would have to just close up. Reorganize and shed those nasty union contracts. Drivers can get UP TO 4 MONTHS PAID leave? COME ON!

    Other cities can have transit. Stadiums? We don't need no stinkin' stadiums...we need BUSES!

    Time to close the light and close PAT and reopen with new drivers and NEW MANAGEMENT!

    As it stands now, you move my bus so far away...it's NOW CHEAPER TO DRIVE!

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  59. It APPEARS PAT wants US the riders to LOBBY for them with the state. They changed the 46F Baldwin Highlands into the Y49. Prospect Park an apartment complex with HUNDREDS of units has ONE STOP....downhill. That will make for a fun place to catch a bus!

    But they want US CALLING our politicians and complaining? So we can help get money for their pensions, get money for their drivers, and insure they have jobs?

    Seattle, WA you can ride the buses for FREE within the Seattle city limits. And cities like LA, Phoenix, Bakersfield, & San Francisco can have public transit. We can't.

    We have casinos to pay for what? My property taxes aren't going down. We pay an extra 1% in sales taxes for what? We pay a DRINK TAX for MASS TRANSIT and they cut routes and raise fares and then whine about ridership and funds going down!

    Fire the drivers and hire new CHEAPER ONES!

    Get new management since the current ones can't cope with the problems of PAT.

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  60. Once again Port Authority takes out their problems on the riders. With the upcoming cuts next week, I will now have to take 3 buses to get to work (and have to hope that they all show up), get dropped off a nice distance from work and walk in the street (since there are no sidewalks) and cross a highway. You find a job based on transportation availability only to find out later, that the transporation is gone. And, yes, the buses break down continuously, usually have no air conditioning in the summer, and when it rains, it rains in the bus. I had to move my seat several times recently to find a dry space. Where are our state representatives and governor now? Why aren't they helping the riders? Oh, and another question, if we get hit by a car while now walking in the street or lose our job due to the cuts, what are OUR rights - can we sue Port Authority? I thought Port Authority of Allegheny County was to serve ALL of Allegheny County not just what they decide to serve!

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  61. To the previous post at 7:35a...not sure about State Reps and Governor, but your local County Executive Dan Onorato wants the Port Authority to act more like a business. Business needs enough revenue to justify a product or service. Port Authority is cutting service, more than likely, due to ridership. Perhaps a route you are reffering is not as productive as it needs to be.

    Supply and Demand. Where there is a large enough demand, the Port Authority will supply.

    And soon, County Executive Onorato may become Governor Onorato. Perhaps you should make contact with his political office and let them know how you feel.

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  62. I tried, but can't find the exact quote when he said it, but I am searching. Here is a quote close to it, saying
    "Port Authority has to get its fiscal house in order before they get a penny from us,"

    Read more: Onorato says international flight could be near, criticizes Port Authority - Pittsburgh Business Times


    Read for yourself. http://pittsburgh.bizjournals.com/pittsburgh/stories/2008/02/11/daily13.html

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  63. Anonymous said... June 9, 2010 11:43 PM Fire the drivers and hire new CHEAPER ONES!
    who ever said this lets fire you from your job and see how you like it!!!!

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  64. samuel...obviously you never rode the west busway..which port authority massacred in the last round of cuts..leaving hundreds upon hundreds of people without adquate service...and we are the commuters that take the bus faithfully and probably pay most of the bills for them unlike the senior citizens and students that ride around for free...

    port authority needs to grow up and act like a business...they operate just like democrats...spend spend spend...raise their rates and then wonder why more and more people don't ride the bus...

    thankfully the nightmare that is the west busway now is almost over come monday...

    and i don't have a problem with the bus drivers..i have a problem with the port authority goons sitting in the parking lots doing NOTHING and getting paid $100,000..we see you everyday while we wait for the bus service you drastically cut to finance your own paychecks...hopefully we will get a governor that tells the unions to get lost just like in other parts of the country where we are sick and tired of your pandering to politicians and throwing your weight around..you don't represent the majority and the majority is fed up with you!!

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  65. again from the last post at 12 09pm lets cut your pay check too and if a driver makes 100k a year that means he is working A LOT of OT do the math top rate for a driver is 24 an hr so cuttibng paychecks for drivers will not work!!!!

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  66. students DON'T ride free

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  67. A few facts to consider in this discussion...

    - Port Authority already has cut quite a bit. Since Act 44 was passed in 2007, the Authority has cut $52 million in annual expenses AND generated an additional $14 million in new revenue. The cuts came from eliminating more than 400 jobs, scaling back benefits for management employees, increasing healthcare and pension contributions, and other changes. This also came as we cut back service hours and also increased fares twice in that period -- in response to demands by leaders who said we were too inefficient and that the Authority should increase its fares on a more regular basis.

    - The financial problem now is not expenses. It's revenue. Since Act 44 passed, Port Authority has averaged a 1/4 percent annual increase from the state. Meanwhile, the cost of healthcare, fuel, etc. -- all out of our control -- sharply increase each year.

    - Port Authority is the only transit system in Pennsylvania that received fewer state dollars in the first year of Act 44 than prior to Act 44. Our allocation decreased by 1.9 percent.

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  68. maybe if you didn't have pensions and healthcare that no one in the private sector enjoys...you wouldn't be in this mess...

    i read the union contract last time they threatened to go on strike...they were resisting paying a $20 copay....a freaking $20 copay...give me a break...

    this is why no one has compassion on you...we drive past the pit you started digging just to give union people jobs...and we know where the money is really going..

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  69. Port Authority CEO Steve Bland, making $182,502.

    The highest paid driver in 2005 received $90,762, including $41,725 in overtime.

    • Seven drivers and two hourly employees grossed more than $80,000, including overtime.

    • Forty-two drivers received $70,000 or more, including overtime.

    sorry...the era when you could defend your grossly overbloated salaries is over..this doesn't even count the pension and health benefits these people get that greatly exceed anything in the private sector...its out of control..

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  70. what is wrong with having a pension and health care??? i think every job should offer that!! i know tons of people who have pensions and health care that dont work for pat!! do you know whats out of control??? your post!!

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  71. i have no problem with pensions and health care..i do have a problem with PAT forcing us to pay for it through taxes which is what is happening...those other people probably work for a company that produces a product people pay for and need...PAT continually cuts service and raises fares and then on top of that makes us pay for its overblown salaries with taxes which we can't fight...if its a private company and its overpriced we can find something else....see the problem here?

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  72. Ok so here is my little comment, I don't agree with fares going up or charging to park at a park and ride people will find a way around that one. The North Shore connector, really? What is that for? OK so I can get to a football game faster woooooo......stupid build an extension on the east bus way to Monroeville more people would ride, because from the people I talk to they don’t like to leave their cars unattended at the PNR. People on the east have nothing no trolley no bus way no hov nothing!

    I wish when it snowed that the squirrel hill tunnels fell down so they could re build it to be 3 lanes no one being hurt of course, cause when I did commute its so much fun to sit in the traffic for 2 hours to go 1.5 miles and be stopped 40000000 times because trucks don’t clean the snow off the top of their trucks, thus setting off over height sensors, that was fun! But hey raise fares, because soon BP and gas will be $800.00 a gallon so we will all be walking to work anyway!

    Ok I’m done! Oh and the driver of the 68A in the morning 7:17 Monroeville Park and ride is very nice! Oh and pretty cute too! Jus Sayin’

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  73. The only person who earns their paycheck is me. Everyone else should let the freemarket decide when your paycut comes.

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  74. People have probably stopped reading by this point, but just in case...
    Sounds like everyone on this list is pretty pissed off. we're all good at complaining and laying the blame on government for a lack of action on our part since they are our elected representatives. Yeah, i agree, it's messed up, it's not right.
    However, we are also responsible. Many of us don't vote. Those who do (including myself) don't do a whole lot of research before voting and tend to go by our feeling about a candidate or the party under which they are running rather than what they have actually done and intend to do as politicians.
    Of course, I don't usually trust politicians any farther than I can throw them because if the interests they are protecting are those of corporate CEOs, they are not protecting MY interests, and I know they will screw anyone over who doesn't have the money to front at the end of the day. Which means, to me, it's up to bus riders to organize. We used to have a riders' rights organization called Save Our Transit that organized pickets and pushed politicians to at least pay attention to transit issues if not influence them to change legislation in riders' favor. But if we don't organize, in my opinion, we can't really draw the attention we need to bus issues. To be honest, my life is too full to organize a campaign alone. But if we do it together, we can make it happen! "Many hands make light work."

    If you're interested in doing something, please contact me at maol.mhuire.oduinnin@gmail.com.

    "The will of the people is the best law."

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  75. Port Authority says "This thread is intended for people wishing to express their views on Port Authority's financial issues and the statewide transportation crisis. Please avoid using this to voice complaints about routes or other experiences. We'd be happy to take those comments on our Twitter feed @pghtransit"

    Why not open another all comment blog? Why not open a Facebook page? Why is it always Twitter? Twitter is terrible!

    I think Port Authority could care less about us and will do whatever they please.

    Hopefully a new company will step up to the plate. Someone who knows what bus service is really like. Someone who really does ride the bus.

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  76. Please raise fares rather than cut evening and weekend service. Cutting the service is more of a hardship than raising fares for all Zones for Businesses and Employees alike. Bland and other upper level executives should have to work for zero pay to provide bus service. I am sick of his constant whining. Bland should be fired.

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  77. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  78. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  79. Anyone who was responsible for allowing a budget to be passed hinging on legislation that had not yet been approved should lose their job. The ineptitude of the Port Authority is beyond stunning.

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  80. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  81. It's fine to state your opinion, no matter what it is - but personal attacks will not be tolerated.

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  82. Port Authority's budget was based on the same level of funding as prior years. The state's Act 44 did not generate a new level of funding. It essentially wiped away the old sources and replaced them with new funding streams, which included tolling of Interstate 80. Today, with the failure of the I-80 mechanism, we face a budget deficit. But, had our budget in 2007 not counted the I-80 revenue, we would have been short then too. Act 44 did not generate new dollars. It simply developed a new way of funding highways, bridges and public transportation.

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  83. ok Im done posting stuff anyway its a lost cause I was just trying to say something positive about the port auth and I get blammed for flirting but its cool I guess I will just not say anything

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  84. i live in east hills. i am a young black women that goes home alone. i am very appuled that buses kept passing me and none of them went to my house. i work 3p-11:30pm everyday and on the weekends i cane get home, thats crazy. that needs to be fixed

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  85. I just heard on teh news teh PAT wants to cut weekend and evening service and possibly charge $7 to ride the bus if youlive in the suburbs.

    Are you trying to hurt the city and alienate even more people? I thought these changes were supposed to help.

    You guys have done nothing but lie to us.

    How do you intend to help us andnot your greedy selves?

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  86. wow....$7 for the suburbs??? wow how dumb is port authority....we are your main source of income...and we will all just pack up and drive...then you will be really screwed...typical union...keep squeezing everybody else to make up for you bloated budget...you charge $7 for those coming in from the suburbs and i guarentee that you will cut your ridership in HALF...i can park downtown for $10...why would i bother taking the bus...

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  87. PORT AUTHORITY IS LYING TO YOU ALL...from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and i quote:

    Its drivers are among the nation's highest-paid at $24.74 an hour and are under contract through June 2012. The contract, hammered out in December 2008 after acrimonious negotiations, provided 11 percent in raises over four years.

    Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10165/1065451-147.stm#ixzz0qvSgf3Kt

    none of us got raises these past four years and yet you want to squeeze us for $7!!!!! we have no sympathy for your whining about funding...you will maybe realize one day when you are all out of work that maybe you should have tightened your belt a little bit like the rest of us have had to do instead of raping the city of pittsburgh and those that take the bus to get to jobs that pay the taxes that prop up your corrupt business...

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  88. I want to thank you so much for the driver of
    the 68A being 5 mins early so everyone
    missed the bus! So then I had to get
    the GC and had an enjoyable ride standing for an
    hour forthe 12 mile ride into the city
    because the bus is jammed now bec of the
    changes to the67A! Going home yest was just as fun
    I got to stand then too! Its awesome!
    Thanks so much for what you guys are doing
    I just love when I get coffee spilled all over me
    and people with the gigantic purses big enough
    to fit my car in knock me over without saying
    sorry!


    Really 7.00 dollars one way, so now i guess we should
    all just pay to park at the steel building
    that is only $345.00 a month to park.

    But you know what port authority, you guys
    are putting YOURSELF out of business! People
    are going to stop riding, my paycheck doesnt
    go up each time you raise fares!

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  89. exactly! its not like our paychecks are going up to meet your increases...your union people might be getting 11% raises but those riding your bus are not...raise your prices when we are still in recession...

    i will vote against any politician that takes money from a union because people this is what happens...they tax us and raise prices all so a SMALL SMALL percentage of "working" class people get to rake in the money off the rest of the middle class...its a giant scam...believe me these poor union people make more money for a lot less work than anyone they drive back and forth...

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  90. they must think those in the suburbs are made of money...$14 for a round trip!!!! we can park downtown for that and not have to deal with your crap anymore...and i guarentee that if you raise your rates that much you will have most of your surburban riders just drive...its not worth it...

    typical union...they are the working people and everyone is "rich" and can pay them an arm and leg...meanwhile the "rich"..that is the working middle class trying to make ends meet...didn't get a raise for years and is struggling to make it while these union people make $25 and then double that for any overtime route they drive...its obscene...

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  91. Cut routes to pay overtime...makes sense, huh? Raise fares to have less riders...even more sense. SENSE = IDIOTS

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  92. I would like to know why I expressed an opinion twice and both were deleted by the blog adminstrator. I did not use foul language, I did not make a personal attack on anyone. For some reason, it is apparently unacceptable to say that I resent my fare going up to help pay for the rising costs of the employees' salaries, health care and existing retirement costs, which was stated in the Post Gazette as part of the reason for the proposed increase-to pay for these expenses.

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  93. The only post that we deleted twice included a personal attack. It was directed at another individual posting on the blog. All other comments are accepted on this blog. So, please, we encourage you to comment. Just stick to your opinion and the issues.

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  94. The kind of money i pay to take a bus from the east suburbs into town is STUPID. It costs me more than the price of a cup of coffee just to meet friends in town for a cup of coffee! $5.50 to go into town and back, you have to be kidding. In this country if you don't drive you are a second class citizen. The drivers make too much and top brass make too much. I'm sure i could find their 50 million almost immediately just by firing Bland and cutting upper level management salaries.

    The only thing i've seen from these "route improvements" is higher fares and strategic elimation of routes that result in forcing people to take two buses instead of one.

    And if so much as one more driver refuses to answer a question or cops an attitude with me i might just refuse to pay the fare!

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  95. Also, note that our labor costs are increasing by 2 percent. We've made several changes in this area in the last few years. We had a wage freeze - two years for senior management and three years for the CEO. Management benefits were scaled back, including the elimination of "lifetime healthcare." We eliminated more than 400 jobs, increased healthcare and pension contributions, and increased the price for providing service to universities.

    Alone, we've cut about $52 million in annual expenses from our budget. Gov. Rendell's Transportation commission called on $60 million in combined savings statewide.

    The state also called on Port Authority to increase fares nominally every year or two, which we started doing (2008, 2010). We did not increase the base fare in the last increase.

    State and local leaders also called on Port Authority to become more efficient and productive. That's why we initiated the Transit Development Plan, which we started implementing this year. The last round of changes started June 13.

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  96. I'm sorry Port Authority, but what's a wage freeze for a CEO when he makes 180,000?

    How about cutting his salary by 50,000. Then we'll talk.

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  97. The entire TDP is a farce. It was developed by a company from CALIFORNIA! What do they know about living and working and playing in Pittsburgh? And how much less would PAT have paid for a local consulting firm to do the plan?

    Increase fares - cut routes. That is extremely poor customer service but PAT knows they have us over a barrel.

    Would it kill them to run routes specifically after the bars/clubs close so we might have fewer drinkers on the road, at least on Fridays and Saturdays? No, instead they want to stop going out of town period at 10 PM. Well, that's a nice bonus for the cabbies, i'm sure, but what about people who will end up having to leave town early or not go at all because of that policy? Just think of all those 10% drink taxes they'll be missing out on!

    They should have used their massive weight to get I-80 tolling through and if this Act 44 isn't doing any good for anybody outside of Governer Rendell's precious Philly, then why doesn't PAT fight for it?! Why is there a MASSIVE, embarrassing hole right in the middle of our "revitalizing" downtown when it's a whole lot easier to park in town and WALK across the bridge to the games - and trust me, nobody is going to that waste of space called the Rivers Casino.

    Obviously, Port Authority just doesn't care about anything other than their own wallets.

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  98. Upset rider.....June 15, 2010 at 1:16 PM

    Ed Rendell needs to get out of there! c'mon ed wake up!!!!!!! everything goes up I swear turnpike tolls, bus fares and so I hear he wants to raise vehicle registration $9.00 a year and so he says "it hasn’t been raised since 2002 ok there are states that don’t even have an emission and inspection! Also it doesn’t seem to work because the air quality in Pittsburgh is still # 2 on the list so what exactly does that do? Like I said before raise fares and you guys will go under! I know I'm not going to pay $7.00 I can pay to park at the arena for 5.25 a day!

    Ed Rendell is a joke, and wonders why unemployment is so high, it's probe because people can afford to ride the bus to work, or pay tolls to get to work, or register their car!

    I’m going to start registering my car in another state like a criminal does to avoid getting my car inspected!

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  99. WOW, with all the cut and cutbacks that PAT has made, don't you think they would've made the caps the state is calling for? Of course not, they'd rather have the customers pay for OT and the drivers exhaust themselves just to keep PAT running smoothly.

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  100. wake up people...this is what government and unions do to you...we are the endless supply of money to their corrupt grubby little hands..sure the working people can pay $7 each way...sure we can pay for pensions that drivers can retire at age 50 on...don't worry you won't be able to retire ever...its corrupt from the governor...clean all the rats out...abolish unions and start over...

    i don't blame the drivers as much as top brass at the union...i bet if you would find tons of overlapping positions with huge salaries...and people say CEOs are bad...at least they are producing a product that we can choose or not choose to buy...the union has a stranglehold on pittsburgh

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  101. Is there a publicly viewable budget for PAT? If our taxes are paying for a large chunk of their operating expenses there should be one somewhere. Where does the drink tax fit into this? I was under the impression that the drink tax was to help alleviate some of the budget issues, or is that going entirely into the North Shore Connector? I have no problem paying the extra 10% to go out and drink, if I knew I can count on the bus to get me home after...

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  102. PAT's labor costs are increasing by 2%? I haven't gotten a raise in years and most likely won't for several more to come. How about freezing your workers' wages for several years? Healthcare and pension contributions should equal what the private sector has to pay. PAT did not increase the base fare in the last increase but somehow fenangled it so that most riders pay more for a pass. I pay $15 more per month for a pass. To my pocketbook, it's the same as raising the fare. Too bad you cannot eliminate "lifetime healthcare" for the people who already receive that benefit. I resent my tax dollars going towards someone's lifetime healthcare when I won't even be able to afford my own. PAT may have made some changes but not enough. Even if PAT received enough money from the toll roads and the state to give them EVERY CENT they need/want and above, we'd still be in this mess every year.

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  103. Port Authority is nothing but a bunch of leeches. $7 one way? That's a little over parking in 'Town. Never believe anything they say. They're not in a crisis making as much money as they are. I don't blame the drivers, I blame the CEO and whoever else runs this corrupt business. You see they strategically eliminated convenient routes to make the riders pay more by having to catch 2 or 3 more buses. It's sickening. People need to boycott Port Authority. Hit them where it hurts: the Pocketbooks. Hopefully another company that knows public transportation will show 'em how it's done! (If boycotting won't pass)

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  104. Why can't people see that they don't care? This blog doesn't mean a thing in changing their minds. Just boycott. 'Nuff said.

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  105. I fully expect them to raise it to $7. But you all are MISSING what PAT is doing. They WANT ALL OF US to start off in a panic and have us all start calling our State Reps and leaders to shake the money tree for them and feed PAT what they want OR ELSE!

    Well LET THEM!

    Call their bluff. They should just close it down. They are bankrupt essentially. Sorry DRIVERS, Mechanics, executives..... you will soon be out of work, because you're greedy. The drivers are typically rude. No one will feel any bit of sympathy for you guys.

    You want to charge $7? Why not $10 or $12 or $25?

    People will drive where they can. People will quit jobs because they HAVE TO.

    You're people are overpaid and DESERVE to get the boot. After you go belly up then they can VOID the union contracts too. Kiss that PENSION BYE BYE!

    And out of the ashes a new bus line will rise...maybe.

    Goodbye PAT I rode you most of my life.

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  106. There are no privately-operated transit systems serving major cities. They all receive government funding because they are intended to provide a public service - just like Port Authority. In fact, Port Authority was created by the state in the 1960s when all of the private bus and trolley operators went bankrupt.

    There's a misconception today that Port Authority is seeking "more money," or new money to balance its budget. That's not true. We're asking to receive the same pool of money that we've been receiving from the state and county. The problem is that the pool of money at the state level has fallen short - mostly due to the I-80 decision. That means we'll get less. So, we're not asking for additional dollars - just the amount that was promised to Allegheny County when Act 44 was passed.

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  107. When are you greedy PAT people going to realize. You ain't getting more money!

    You wanted bridges under the river?

    You want a MAGLEV?

    For years you cut service and raise rates and ridership declines....then you scratch your tiny heads and say WAW HAPPEN???

    Then you say gotta cut service and raise rates....

    NOW you're getting creative you're threaten us riders!

    You're prices are at the point where it's cheaper to drive for those that can drive.

    DECLARE BANKRUPTCY.

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  108. seriously for a family of four to ride into the city would cost $28 each way!!!! are you kidding me!i can park downtown for $5 over 5:00...

    guess what port authority you have and 11% pay raise to your employees...anybody else on this thread get a raise this year...i didn't think so...so shut up with the we are just asking for the money we need...you are a corrupt union and i hope you go bankrupt and none of you get a pension and then you can live like rest of us...

    its the old parable of killing the golden goose...of course those "wealthy" suburbinites can pay $7 each way...they are made of money!

    you know the real reason people live so far from the city..BECAUSE OF THE FREAKING HIGH TAXES...because a bunch of corrupt democrats run the county and the city and no one can afford to live close...that's why everyone has moved to butler and washington and westmoreland...you will do the same thing to port authority..you will be stuck with the very poor and the elderly and that's it because the rest of us will just pay to park downtown and save ourselves the hassle..

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  109. Blaming the bus drivers is folly. I doubt they even make as much money as people claim. There are some rude drivers, there's also some nice respectful ones. Don't lump all of them together without facts.

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  110. its not the driver individually...its the union culture and the union top brass...what makes them think we can pay $7 a trip on their bus???

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  111. @ Anonymous 12:14

    Yeah, I understand and agree. Union culture is disgusting. Not the drivers' fault alone. I wish people would see that. They're angry understandably, but point fingers in the right direction.

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  112. Today Mr. Bland announced that the raise may not be to $7 but maybe $3, $4 or $5. He would like to keep the zone 1 base fare as it is to avoide impacting the lower income residents. Not everyone in zone 1 is lower income. Not everyone in zone 2, 3, etc. is high income. Some of us live on one paycheck because a spouse lost a job. Others have lost jobs and taken other jobs for half of what they used to make and are struggling to keep paying their bills, even if they live in modest homes. It's time to stop increasing fares or raising the cost of some zones and to stop taxing everyone to death. Cut your own costs. Get rid of the Union. Have peopel pay into their 401K and pensions just like everyone else. Union employees are no better than anyone else. And if anyone wants to offer me a job in Port Authority making $24.75 an hour, let me know and I'll take it.

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  113. I live in zone 2 and know I dont have high income!

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  114. I think its funny that drivers compain that they dont make enough, I know cops that protect us and only make 13.50 an hour and have to pay for their own stuff vest gun etc. eh forget its not like our comments matter they will do what they want anyway and nothing we will do/say will matter

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  115. maybe they should ask all of us when we board the bus if we get our healthcare completely paid for and make $25 an hour with double for overtime...and get a pension plan that allows us to retire with full pay at age 50...if we do then we can afford the $5 to $7 trip...if we don't then we shouldn't get a fare increase...i think the UNION might be surprised how many "rich" people in zone 2 make a lot less than they do..

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  116. Jennings found that the Port Authority’s payroll was $155 million last year, which is about half of the total budget. Records show that the highest paid bus driver made more than $131,000. Four other bus drivers made over $100,000 and nearly 50 drivers made more than $80,000.

    read more: http://www.wpxi.com/news/23910694/detail.html

    don't believe a word PAT tells you about how poor they all are...good thing the media still does it job sometimes and find out how corrupt the union is...i'd like to see the blog administrator try to explain these salaries away when you want to raise rates so drastically for all of us struggling to get into town...go ahead...make a case why a BUS DRIVER should make over $80,000 a year and we should have to pay $7 each way...

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  117. wow...i hope they make the union illegal...that is completely crazy that they all moan and complain that they need tax money just as they are screwing us over to line their own pockets...don't hold your breath though...the city is run by democrats and democrats are bought by unions...so we are all screwed...

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  118. unions are made up of bullies...threaten the real working people of the city with $7 fares to get your way...talking with the people on the bus...most will just carpool and drive in...port authority you will lose your entire commuter base and then you will be done...and good riddance...i know for one i can not afford to pay anymore in price hikes...i did not get a raise unlike everyone in your union and i don't make $80,000 a year like a previous poster put that your drivers do...you are simply insane...

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  119. well as for the upper post says drivers make $80k a year or more wow. Iam a mechanic for pat and I worked 2080 hours last year and I made $34k maybe I should be a driver!!

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  120. The drivers who make that much money are working tons of overtime. The average gross pay for an operator is between $50,000 and $55,000. No operator at Port Authority is paid $90k for a 40 hour work week.

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  121. ok so why allow so much overtime? Hire more drivers to get paid at a normal rate not time and a half!!

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  122. ok then why allow so much overtime????? Hire more drivers and dont pay out for time and a half! Hire drivers and be a part in Pittsburgh who is hiring to get unemployment rates down!

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  123. right...i won't believe a word of it until the union opens its books...which they should do before they hoist such a draconian price hike on us...i'm sure us riders could find plenty of things to cut in your budget...starting with your bloated CEO's budget...

    wait until they hold public hearings...i hope they are shouted out of the hall...YOU ARE CORRUPT and we all know it...your last union negotiations were publicized so we all know how you fought having to put any money toward healthcare or your pension...try working in the real world...we have no sympathy for you and we will fight these price hikes tooth and nail and if you win then we will simply not ride and not one of us will care if you all lose your jobs...you brought it completley on yourselves..

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  124. don't worry mechanic...they will fire you rather than the upper union that do nothing but screw over pittsburgh with their threats of strikes...the good hard-working drivers and mechanics will get the ax while the worthless upper level management will continue to leech off of the taxpayer dime and raise rates until its only them riding the bus...oh wait...they don't...they just use the busway for their own personal road downtown...

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  125. Again why do so many of you want to attack the working class. Do not all politicians promise to bring good jobs to the region? Why would you want to eliminate some good jobs for all. Is it because you buy into the Walmart philosophy that a cheaper product has to be better? These are people that work like you. As far as Unions go, you need to stop reading the Trib. Unions are the only protection for all who labor,to becoming a second class citizen. Why do you think we had the strongest middle class in the history of this planet during the 50s and 60s. No company pays you out of the goodness of their heart. Remember competition goes both ways lowers someone else wages and you no longer have them to compete with.Why not use PATS standards to fight for yourself.

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  126. Port Authority says " The average gross pay for an operator is between $50,000 and $55,000."

    I don't even make that much money! That's $24-26 per hour. School bus drivers don't make that much an hour!

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  127. There is nothing wrong with paying your employees $25 an hour...so long as you can afford it. It is one thing if the Port Authority could provide more service than it already does, at a slighttly lower fare then I doubt very few would care.

    But the truth is, the Port Authority no longer has the money to pay such wages. And it isn't ONLY the bus drivers. It is everyone from the CEO down to the lowest of the low. EVERYONE needs to work together on this.

    Also, if health care is so expensive, why duz the Port Authority keep going back to Highmark? Why not another cheaper insurance tha provides the same or similar coverage? That could help things too, right?

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  128. upset rider for a second time this weekJune 17, 2010 at 8:39 AM

    Hey Port Authority, I want to thank you again
    for me being late because the 7:07 68A broke
    down and the one at 7:17 was full so I had to
    take the GC at 7:27. So that is twice this
    week I was late by 45 mins. Since you guys
    have changed the routes and apparently drivers
    I have been late, I was never late before because
    we always had the same driver and he was always
    on time!!!!!! Now I am not surprised to see that
    I am late like every other day. I'm wondering
    when you raise fares to $7.00 or whatever it will
    be, will you guys pay my salary for being late an
    hour, since you are so inconsistent????

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  129. brian don't buy into the crap that unions protect the "working class" those bus drivers make much more than those they are hauling around so who really is the "working class"?? i think its the people that have to pay your ever-increasing fares as well as taxes while you enjoy pay and pensions and health benefits that those of us in the private sector could only dream of..

    wake up...people are finally understanding what unions really do which is hold cities hostage and give money to politicians so they get their way...and this is happening all over the country...its time to abolish unions...they had a purpose once but they have abused their power ever since..

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  130. oh i have a story about the lovely union...this morning coming to work on the G1 the 8:02 busdriver must have called off..so unlike a normal working place where someone would have to work a little bit more to fill...oh no...this is a union...so we stood 50+ deep at carnegie...while three..count them three G1s sat in the parking lot while the lazy union people took their "breaks"...nevermind that they made all of us late..because not one of them could get off their butts and come pick us up because it wouldn't be their turn...this is what you want me to pay $7 for?!?! and brian yes...maybe things should be like walmart...most popular store in america and everyone i have ever met there is happy and helpful...unlike your unions..

    wake up people...UNIONS DESTROY COMPANIES..

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  131. because brian..if we used PATs standard to fight for ourselves the whole country will collapse...like its about to anyway under the debt pensions and things unions pushed in the 50s and 60s now finally coming to bear...unions hate companies and live to leech off the work of others...what do your higher ups do besides complain and give money to democrats and threaten the city?? nothing that's what...unions are worthless

    unions are bullies and we all roll our eyes with the whole "working class" schtick...believe me those riding the bus make less than the unions do and we don't constantly complain about it the way unions do...

    its a tired old political lie that somehow if we don't have unions that no one will have good jobs...companies want happy employees and they like to reward those that do well...because happy employees do their job well..no one in a union would ever be able to function in the real world because they would get fired for the incessent whining, complaining and lack of work ethic..

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  132. Time to leave Pittsburgh! How about pay cuts for the BIG PAY CEO's? Hum....no chance there, huh. Seriously, $7 a ride because we live in Plum? You've raised Zone 2 without raising Zone 1 (fair?). You've cut our service to the point we stand for 45-60 minutes, if our buses even show up or stay running. You want to promote Public Transportation...Ride Public Transportion...Use Public Transportation - WHY? This is not a good way to promote it...less service, more money. I think it is time to move from Pittsburgh, or take a lesser paying job closer to home and I won't be away from my son 12 hours a day for an 8 hour job. I hate Port Authority and it is monopoly! What a waste of a good idea and BAD management and greedy people have caused this problem and the people who use it and need are going to suffer. Thank you again PAT for higher fares, less service and crappy service!

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  133. Some people actually rely on the bus to get to and from work, and to do their grocery shopping. Some people can't afford a car, and are too young for Access. Cutting service and raising prices will only force more people to drive to and from, reduce ridership, and hurt the low income but hard working people trying to make an honest living. Something needs done! And cutting out all this service can and will stop people from being able to get to work, and keep people from coming out and "stimulating the local economy." This is not good for the city of Pittsburgh's future.

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  134. To the person Anonymous, you state unions
    are thugs and bullies. Who are they bullies to? That employee making a good paycheck. I was in a Union and wish I still was. Why would anyone not want the opportunity to have democracy in the workplace. Or would you rather be a slave to the (global) market. When I was in the union I had a say, I voted for my president and I negotiated my contract. Are you saying only those who have wealth and power should have those rights?

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  135. they are bullies to the rest of us who work in the City..only a thug threatens to raise prices from 2.50 to $7...and its not democracy...what do you your union dues do except pay for corrupt CEOs and corrupt politicians...unions were created for a good purpose but they abuse their power now...

    they ran GM into the ground...they will run port authority into the ground...they literally want to keep soaking the "rich" which i guess in their mind is all commuters with their constant fare hikes...

    i have no problem with bus drivers making a good wage if the company can afford it...obvsiouly port authority can't...and to act like your income is in line with the rest of the city's...you have got to be kidding...most of us pay hundreds every month for health insurance and save our whole lives for retirement...so the whining from unions falls on deaf ears...people are fed up throughout this whole country with their unreasonable demands...you are the problem not companies...

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  136. More bus routes being cut. Screaming and complaining about it won't change anything. Boycott Port Authority, people!

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  137. The answer is simple. [1] Raise the price per ride to what it costs PAT, including the current subsidy. Use the current subsidy to reduce the ride fee for the folks over 60 or in some sort of need. If the price is too high even with a substantial subsidy, the laws of supply and demand will come into play and the service will end unless the employees reduce their costs to what the public thinks they are worth or are willing to pay. [2] Allow private companies to come in. Charge them $.50/trip that goes to PAT as they will take be left with the most inefficient routes. The subsidy will compensate PAT for taking those routes.

    If the union is right, they should jump at this offer. I think not!

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