Thursday, June 3, 2010

Public Hearing on Transit Funding in Monroeville June 18

The House Transportation Committee will hold a public hearing on Pennsylvania’s transportation funding crisis on Friday, June 18 at 11 a.m. at Gateway High School in Monroeville.

This hearing is one of seven scheduled throughout Pennsylvania and will focus on transportation issues in Allegheny, Beaver, Lawrence, Westmoreland, Washington, Greene and Fayette counties (PennDOT districts 11 and 12).

House Transportation Committee chairmen Rep. Joseph F. Markosek, D-25, and Rep. Richard A. Geist, R-79, are holding the hearings to provide a public forum for discussing Pennsylvania’s funding crisis and to collect feedback on ways to develop sustainable funding solutions for public transit, highways and bridges.

To register to testify at the hearing, call or email Amanda Wolfe at Rep. Markosek’s office at 717-783-1012 or with your name, contact information and, if applicable, your title and the organization you represent.

It is requested that testimony also be submitted in writing by noon on June 15, 2010 to ensure that it is included in the official hearing transcript.

Those who require additional preparation time may bring 50 copies of testimonial materials to the hearing.

Equipment for PowerPoint presentations will be available at the hearing – please specify in your registration if you plan to provide a presentation. PowerPoint documents should also be emailed prior to the hearing.

Those who are unable to attend the hearing may still submit testimony for the public record. Testimony may be emailed to or mailed to Amanda Wolfe at the following address:

Hon. Joseph F. Markosek
314 Irvis Office Building
PO Box 202025
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2025

For information on transit to the hearing, please use our
Trip Planner, or for paratransit service call ACCESS at 412-562-5353.

For more details on the hearing, please call or email Amanda Wolfe at Rep. Markosek’s office at 717-783-1012 or


  1. Great! A Public Hearing! There have been so many people wining about the North Shore Connector Project, well it's public hearing was in Summer 2000. Perhaps everyone who reads this blog should attend...instead of complaing about this ten years from now, too!

    Can't make it for whatever reason? Why not call, write or e-mail Amanda Wolfe at the above addresses/numbers?

    And remember what excuses get you...nothing!

  2. Just a few quick ideas for testimony...

    A) Proposed a higher share of Dan Onorato's Poored Drink Tax is going to the Port Authority. You don't have to raise Mr. Onorato's tax rate to do this.

    B) Amend the State Connsitution so that a portion of the State Gasoline Tax can be used for Pennsylvania Transit Systems. You don't have to raise the gasoline tax a penny to do this either.

    C) Put pressure onto the Port Authority to stop accepting Mon Incline Transfers on the Mon Incline! If you ride the Duquesne Incline and one adult wants to go round trip, then it's a Zone 1 Fare down and Zone 1 Fare back up (or vica versa) coming to a grand total of $4. The Mon Incline accepts it's own transfers so the same person riding round trip on that one comes to $2.75. Keep the Mon Incline so that it is able to accept transfers from all other bus and light rail routes.

    How would the operator know where the transfer came from? Simple. The Mon Incline uses the "MI" code on all their transfers. No other route or incline uses that code. The operators currently check to verify the dates and times on the transfer are correct. Looking at the MI code which print is larger than the expiration time can easily let you, me and the operators of the Mon Incline know wether or not the transfer was issued from the Mon Incline itself.

    The overwhelming majority of the Mon Incline riders who ride round trip are tourists and sight seers. Let's charge out of towners the FULL rate before raising the fares for those who need the buses/inclines/light rail.

    D) Port Authority just made the "28X Airport Flyer" route more direct, allowing people to get to and from the Airport quicker. Let's charge a premium fare for this premium route. The Port Authority needs to be willing and able to charge at least $5.00 each way for CASH PAYING FARES. Riders using Port Authority bus passes and tickets, such as but certianly not limitied to Airport Employees who rely on the bus to get to/from work, could be exempt from this proposed "Airport Surcharge" much like Port Authority Pass and Ticket holders are except from the Light Rail surcharge during it's peak periods. This increase would only effect casual riders and out of towners who are already saving a bundle by using the bus. If you can afford an Airplane Ticket, you can afford a $5.00 fare for an 16+ mile bus ride.

    There are four ways to help (but not completley solve) Port Authority's funding dilema which do not include any service cut backs, fare increases, job lay offs nor tax increases. Feel free to use them in addition to any ideas you may have at this or any future public hearings.

    Thank you!

  3. Why in the world does the Port Authority schedule a public hearing at 11:00 am on a weekday unless they do not want the people who use the buses the most cannot attend? They must think we are stupid. We (those who work and use the system) are closed out simply due to the fact that we must work and cannot attend these "public hearing". The Port Authority uses these tricks whenever they do not want honest debate. Some of us do have to work and cannot leave to come to a meeting in the middle of the day.

  4. This is not a Port Authority hearing. The hearing is being held by the House Transportation Committee, which is attempting to seek solutions to the statewide transportation crisis.

    Port Authority is encouraging your participation, which is why we've publicized the hearing on our homepage and this blog -- with specific instruction on how to testify without attending (for those who are unable to attend).

    Again, if you're concerned about the state's transportation funding crisis and its impact on Port Authority, please attend or send in your comments.

  5. To Anonymous. Both my response and the blog itself say you can write, call or e-mail Amanda Wolfe, who works for the Representative.

    I am unaware as to any "tricks" the Port Authority does...other than making high parking expenses, gasoline consumption and traffic disapear.

    When the Port Authority does have public hearings, to the best of memory, they have had evening hours. But some people will find any excuse not to show up or even make a simple phone call, illregardless as to what time a politician or the Port Authority would have the public hearing.

    Days? Nah, we have to work. Evenings? Nah, I have to go home and cook dinner. Weekends? Nah, I need my rest and recreation time.

    The same can be true for locations.

    Rep. Joseph F. Markosek and Rep. Richard A. Geist, in my opinion, are simply providing transparency and listening to the people's concerns...two traits that we should ask, no demand, of EVERY politician.

    I myself can not attend the public hearing due to work, however I have already written and received a response back from Ms. Wolfe.

    Where there is a will...there is a way.

  6. well said Samuel J Hurst

  7. thank for the info

  8. Stop the madness! "Irregardless" is a double negative. Any self respecting writer would never use it.

  9. I like the drink tax idea, especially since it was reduced for making too much money. Back alley Onorato should be trying to raise it again but its an election year and everyone knows power is better than the people. Mr Hurst, I'd also like to point out that a spellchecker might be a good idea. A good idea written in bad language is a bad idea.

  10. In addition, most of the bars and establishments never changed the drink prices a cent, just the menus to reflect the lower tax in fine print. Everyones already still paying it.

  11. == This is the testimony I sent in. ==

    Though there is much to say, I will be brief. I speak as a multi-modal (bus-bike-car) commuter. We are trying to find solutions to two funding problems, not one. Public transit cannot receive any funding from taxes on fuels or from license or registration fees, as per the Pennsylvania Constitution, Article VIII, Section 11A. Therein, however, lies the solution to highway and bridge funding. That is what those taxes are for.

    By my calculation, with roughly 8 million registered vehicles in PA and a $240 million annual need, the highway/bridge need could be met by raising the annual registration fee from $36 to $66. The GOP will simply have to eat its words on not raising taxes or fees, as there is no other responsible way to make up that much money. Maybe they can close roads and bridges, or maybe they can put PennDOT under the same scrutiny and squeezes that transit agencies have been subjected to for years, but I doubt it.

    Transit is a tougher nut to crack. One good thing that did come out of Act 44 was responding to the objections of anti-transit legislators by causing PAT and SEPTA and other transit agencies to reinvent their systems, to be more responsive, to clean up their act, so to speak. They did that. Now it's Harrisburg's turn. Just fund it properly, as we pro-transit people have been saying all along. _My preference is through a Vehicle Miles Traveled tax._ This is inherently fair and self-balancing, as the more vehicle-miles are traveled in any area, the more transit is needed in that area. I believe it is also within the constraints of Article VIII.

    In finding fixes to two problems, let's not try to fix three. Stop building new roads that we have to maintain! In particular, kill and keep killed any hope of funding the Mon-Fayette/Southern Beltway project. On the other hand, please /do/ find the puny amounts of money for improvements to bicycle and pedestrian projects which would lessen our need for primarily car-only infrastructure.

    In closing, it is simply good public policy to turn away from a cars-first and cars-only mentality. Instead, adopt this approach:
    *Fix it first, drive it last.*

    Thank you for your time.

  12. PAT is dead. Get over it. They are going to boost fares to $7 and cut routes. No one will ride it.

    We will just have to live without bus service in Pittsburgh. At least we have STADIUMS! No THOSE ARE important.

    Come on the way to down on that commute don't you take a lot of comfort KNOWING we spend HUNDRED OF MILLIONS on stadiums we all virtually live at because tickets are so cheap?

    And we get bored we can walk down to the casino...I'm guess buses will be gone by the time this post is published!

    Just shut PAT down. Declare it bankrupt. Then VOID all the contracts and reorganize. Sure it will cost a lot of working people their jobs because there will be no buses.

    But face it THIS is happening. No one cares about funding public transit. The rightwing cares about tax cuts and nothing else. And face it's too easy to block things.

    Void the contracts and start over.

    $7 for a ride?

    Why not $10 or $12?

    Remember you can park for $10 downtown.

  13. Where can you park at for $10 an entire day? I get stuck paying $18-25. If my bus is cut, I may need to know this.

  14. yeah, i'm not a expert on this or anything, but if there were no buses in pgh, would there even be enough parking garages-lots-spaces for everyone to use? i mean, alot of ppl take the bus now and its almost impossible to find a spot as it is!!!!!!!

  15. I was told by a bus driver that this $7 per ride is a scare tactic! It's just to get the attention of the state. Well it is not going well for me. That is approx. $400 per month, definitely a car payment and definitely a huge amount that is not even remotely to be considered in my budget!. I wouldn't even be able to afford to go to work! Maybe PAT could start to charge the Park n Ride lots; that's some revenue to think about. I still think we should be writing our legislators besides blogging to each other, and pull them in on this and tell them we will remember not to vote for them next election! Okay guys and dolls, we voted for you, now, we need you to fight for us! Take one of our bus rides, pay the $7 one-way fare, stand on the bus for 1-hour in a no air-conditioned bus from West Mifflin garage; share it with screaming kids, body odor beyond belief riders and enjoy riding with P.A.T.!! Get all the ammentities @ $7 a pop! And oh yes, they are 30 minute minimum waiting arrival time until the next one comes!

  16. Why not have drivers take there drivers test again? Im we would have alot of people whare are "bad" drivers taken off the highways. Come on if someone is so confident in there driving skills they can take the test again every 10 yrs or so. afterall they are operating a potential dangerous equipment (car). That would generate funding and keep the roads safer for public transit riders and all who travel the roadways in PA.

  17. Why have only Port Authority Bus Drivers have to retake their tests every ten years? Why not ALL Pennsylvaia drivers? We could generate ALOT of revenue that way! We could divvy up the money for PennDOT, Pennsylvania Roads/Bridges and Pennsylvania Mass Transit.

  18. Another possible solution? Bring back commuter trains to service communities where train tracks already exist. The Tarentum/Arnold/Oakmont corridor is one such route, and I'm sure there are other potential routes.

  19. It's quite amazing to me that Allegheny County is currently sitting on an $80,000,000 surplus- largely created by taxes that were created to fund the Port Authority yet they are not being forced to pay up!
    Why exactly is that??