Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tunnel to Somewhere

A report issued yesterday by two U.S. Senators in Washington D.C. painted a one-sided and innacurate picture of Port Authority's extension of the T to the North Shore. The report claimed the project is a waste of federal stimulus dollars and described it as a "Tunnel to Nowhere."

Those claims are misguided and not based in factual information.

Read or listen to news reports regarding the report:

The bottom line is the T extension will directly support about 4,000 jobs through its design construction. Creating and sustaining jobs was the primary goal of the federal stimulus program and that's why the North Shore Connector was an ideal candidate.

The jobs include both full-time and part-time employment and occur within various phases of the project, from design through construction. It includes suppliers of materials and equipment, construction, design and engineering.

And, describing the North Shore as "nowhere" simply is not the reality.

When local leaders first proposed extending the T to the North Shore, the area mostly was covered with parking lots. Leaders envisioned developing the area - beyond construction of PNC Park and Heinz Field. They asked Port Authority to oversee construction of the transit project.

Today, that vision is being realized. The list of major destinations that would be served by the T is growing and includes:

  • Del Monte
  • Equitable Resources
  • Carnegie Science Center (700,000 annual visitors)
  • PNC Park (1.75 million annual fans)
  • Heinz Field (500,000 annual fans, excluding concerts)
  • New hotels
  • An amphitheater - under construction
  • Community College of Allegheny County (7,200 students)
  • Rivers Casino
  • Andy Warhol Museum (90,000 annual visitors)
  • Several other entertainment, corporate and retail locations


  1. Maybe the Port Authority needs to go bankrupt. It seems that Pittsburgh has one of the most expensive transit systems in the country. It would be nice if transit was even a little self sustainable, instead of relying on funding from various public sources, especially in these economic times.

  2. I'd have to agree with the Port Authority's stance on this issue. What an unfair, un-researched, silly thing to say. Improving infrastructure worked for FDR and the great depression. Tunnel to nowhere?! Really?!

  3. Del Monte Corporate Headquarters is in San Francisco so that comes off the list.

    Port Authority will be losing $$ by charging the Premium rate of $160 for a monthly pass. The cost savings of taking the T from the South Hills will no longer exist. Those who live close to the city on the T line will hardly have any savings over a parking lease downtown. The T is not so convenient that people won't want to drive in to town for work.

    Port Authority won't be getting my $160 month if the increase happens. I'll get a lease and just deal with the cost of 6 miles a day in gas.

  4. This just does not make sense. The T service only serves a fraction of the Pittsburgh area, so unless all of these visitors live in the south hills or downtown the above numbers are completely bogus. Anyone visiting from the north, east, or west will not be able to take advantage of this expansion.

    This is a bad business decision that no privately funded organization would have made. I somehow doubt that it will ever be possible to make up for this expenditure in revenue from service fees.

  5. I hope gas goes up to 5.00 or more. This way people will realize that we need public transportation. Everyone can't afford a car. Funding is needed.

  6. The Port Authority has its boot planted squarely upon the neck of the American taxpayer as it brazenly uses media like the Post-Gazette, which is nothing more than a Democrat Party mouthpiece, to defend the indefensible....a mile of trolley track costing more than it would take to fund the entire regional library system for the next 50 years.

    What is the real purpose of the North Shore Connector? Do they think that, by offering free rides to South Hills seniors, they can drain their bank accounts at their failing casino?

    Let's not be propagandized yet again by the Democrat oppressors in the White House and their despicable minions at the Port Authority. The billions spent so far on the Skybus, the Wabash Tunnel and the 17-mph "high speed" trolley lines should have taught us all we need to know about these charlatans.

    STAND UP, voters, and kick these thieves OUT in November. There are not many chances left to save America from the bankruptcy of their corrupt political operations.

  7. This north shore connector project i think was a good idea at first but now as i think of it it was just a waste of money. That money could of been used to keep bus and T service from getting cut and port authority employee jobs from getting lost and not to mention from the fares from getting increased somebody from the company is not budgeting the money properly.

  8. I would think that it would be more important to connect Oakland via the T. I guess not.

  9. At best, your list is misleading. How many visitors to the Carnegie Science Center come from the north, come on school buses, or come from the east or west? Do you expect them to take a bus downtown and then connect to the T? Why would anyone add 35 minutes to their trip in that way?

    How many people come to Heinz Field or PNC Park to tailgate? Can you tailgate at the T station?

    The worst part about your list is these two entries:
    •New hotels
    •Several other entertainment, corporate and retail locations.

    Serious? That's like me applying for a mortgage, and when asked about my income, stating "$600,000 per year based on new jobs I will get and some other income I will earn in the future."

    If you're going to use numbers and stats to back up your argument, at least be realistic about it.

  10. The Port Authority can not be expected to make a profit so long as high-ways and much parking are free. The subsidy, by law used to be 2/3 state and 1/3 county. The state refuses to pay it, breaking the law. The County must make up the difference. There is no other way. The Port Authority can not print money. ** The "T" is a great service. Since 1977, the "T: has gained about 30 % in use but the buses, despite new BusWays, have lost 40 %. That is the real problem.

  11. I spent this past weekend in Chicago shaking my head at the amount of places I could on the "L".

    How could Oakland, Lawrenceville, Shadyside, South Side (or anything other than the South Hills) not be considered for expansion of the "T" in Pittsburgh. If you want people to start taking PAT Transit seriously, then build it where they live.

  12. Aren't all of the destinations already serviced by buses?

  13. We spend far more on highways than public transit and bikeways. (We also spend far too little on infrastructure in general which is actually an investment, rather than an expense.) This needs to change if we hope to reduce oil consumption, pollution, traffic congestion, highway maintenance, and physical inactivity. Public transit projects also creates jobs -- nearly twice as many as highway projects. I was in favor of the tunnel in the first place and still am. Glad to see it is nearing completion. Once in use, this false "debate" will be a forgotten issue. I am only sorry to see the tunnel to the train station was not completed. It would have connected inter- and intra-city public transit together seamlessly and practically.

  14. I believe the government should subsidize mass transit for commuters, and I'm happy to pay for it. However, this tunnel is the most mis-guided contractor payout I've ever witnessed. The distance covered by the end of this subway project is so negligible it is laughable. With busses and walking paths across our bridges readily available one can not see this as anything but a waste. Meanwhile the Port Authority is turning my short commute into a three bus ordeal in order to "cut costs."

  15. I suppose $160 will be a fair price considering that the City of Pittsburgh will be leasing their parking garages and the increased prices to park in our beloved city will surely put public transit back on par with being "affordable" once again.

    Perhaps the businesses public transit benefits should also be taxed for a service fee. In fact, determine where each rider works, goes to school, shops, does business, and charge those businesses for their share of this premium service.

  16. I think the parking is be coming a issue now,that the buses are being cut. It's either the bus fare, or the parking rate will go up.

  17. The Port Authority can't even effectively or efficiently run what it has in place already yet builds this white elephant.

  18. The Port Authority spends money so foolishly it is unbelievable. You build a parking garage no one uses; you relocate to a spritzy headquarters; now you are wasting money on a project that provides little benefit. Improve current service. It is terrible to say the least!

  19. i agree... have you ever seen other transit agencies around pittsburgh? the mid mon valley is doing a great job and actually cutting prices and increasing service!

  20. You people do realize that the stimulus funds could NOT be used for operational costs RIGHT? Who cares if its a waste of money in that respect, it would not and could not help the current funding situation.
    You all should be happy it is making jobs at all instead of yanking them away from the area. Would you rather have seen Pittsburgh get no stimulus money and it go to some pointless project in Philly creating jobs there?

  21. The North shore connector was a DUMB idea. If it was THAT important to get people over to the North Shore from Downtown, run a bus line from Wood Street Station or Gateway to the North Side.... OH WAIT.. Port Authority already does that!

    How about extending the T out to Swissvale station? You already rip up the EB every other year, why not put some tracks down next time around? PAT could terminate all the eastern bus lines at Swissvale, Wilkinsburg, or East Lib, and riders could transfer to the T which can move people into downtown more efficiently and without bus traffic in the downtown grid instead of getting on a stinking, broken down, diesel EBA/EBS bus.

    Or you could extend the T out the West Busway and give us the rail link to the Airport that's been promised to us since about the time the Airport was but a farmer's field.

    Or you could extend the T up the 5th/Forbes corridor into Oakland... as it is PAT already floods those roads with buses today, so it's not like a few street cars are going to hurt anything. You could even swing it back down to the E. Busway via N. Neville St.

    Any and all of the above would have gained more ridership AND increased operational efficiency than just ferrying seniors from South Hills nursing homes to the Casino.