Last month, Port Authority adopted its FY2011 budget with a $47.1 million revenue shortfall. The federal government’s decision not to approve tolling on Interstate 80 has removed a cornerstone of the state’s Act 44 transportation funding program. The impact is felt statewide by road, bridge and public transportation systems, including Port Authority.
Port Authority is obligated by law to balance its budget. Unfortunately, as long as the funding crisis is not solved we have no other choice but to consider drastic service reductions in combination with a fare increase to help address the funding gap.
Today the Planning & Development Committee of the Port Authority Board of Directors announced proposed fare and service actions comprising a 35% service reduction and an across-the-board fare increase. The Committee also authorized Authority staff to move forward with a 30-day public comment period, including a public hearing.
The proposed fare changes would increase the base fare for both Zones 1 and 2, the cost of passes and tickets, and introduce premium pricing for light rail service and 13 express bus routes.
Service hours would be reduced by 35 percent, cutting the number of routes from 129 to 85 and forcing the closure of two bus divisions. At least 500 Port Authority jobs would be cut. About ninety neighborhoods throughout our coverage area would be left without any public transit service or see significant service loss.
The public comment period on the proposed fare increases and service reductions will run from Wednesday, July 28 through Tuesday, Aug. 31 at 4 p.m. Individuals and organizations may submit comments via postal mail or the Authority’s website, http://www.portauthority.org/.
A public hearing will be held Thursday, Aug. 19 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Downtown Pittsburgh. Individuals wishing to testify are encouraged to pre-register by calling 412-566-5437 (TTY 412-231-7007).
After the end of the public comment period, a final set of recommended actions would be voted on by the Board in September. The proposed fare increase would be implemented on Saturday, Jan. 1, 2011, and service changes would take effect on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011. The next round of Transit Development Plan route changes scheduled for September will still go into effect on Sept. 5.
Port Authority understands the hardships that will arise as we are forced to raise fares and make severe service cuts, and we wish we could avoid such drastic actions. We are urging a solution for Pennsylvania's transportation funding crisis, and our Board of Directors has sent a letter to Gov. Ed Rendell encouraging the state to resubmit its application for tolling I-80.