Thursday, January 19, 2012

Service Cuts, Fare Increases Proposed Due to Budget Deficit

Port Authority is facing a $64 million deficit in its operating budget for the coming fiscal year, starting July 1. This deficit stems from a lack of dedicated funding for transportation at the state level.

Left without adequate state funding, Port Authority will have no choice but to slash service, increase fares and lay off employees in order to balance its budget, which it is legally obligated to do.

These actions would be devastating. More than 40 routes would be eliminated from the 100 we currently operate, and schedules would be reduced on all remaining routes. Commuter service to many suburbs would disappear. Late-night service would be cut on all but a few routes, negatively impacting the shift workers so many employers depend upon. Riders who rely on ACCESS paratransit would see fare increases and decreased service. And hundreds of Port Authority employees would be laid off.

However, these devastating cuts do not have to happen. Adequate state transportation funding could prevent this drastic step.State Reps. Dan Frankel and Mike Sturla have introduced a bill (HB 2112) that would ensure funding for Pennsylvania’s transportation system, including roads, bridges and mass transit. You might recall that Sen. Jake Corman proposed similar legislation last year. And just last week, Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch said Gov. Corbett would propose a transportation funding package next month.
Of these, Rep. Frankel’s proposal clearly would help sustain public transportation in Allegheny County. We would not have to cut 35 percent of our service.

There’s likely to be much discussion of these proposals in coming weeks. Be assured that we’ll continue to stand up for those who want a thriving public transportation system in Allegheny County.

Passage of a bill would be the first of two steps necessary to get Port Authority in a stable financial position. The second step is tackling legacy costs and securing union concessions during this year’s contract negotiations.

While we continue advocating for adequate state funding, Port Authority must at the same time prepare for the worst. Without a state funding solution and real progress on legacy costs, fare increases would go into effect July 1, with service cuts to follow on September 2.

It is our deepest hope that we do not have to enact these service cuts and fare increases – that our state government recognizes the devastating impact they would have on our community and regional economy, and acts to avert this crisis.

Full details on possible service and fare actions are now posted on our website, including a service reduction/fare increase chart, system maps showing affected areas, and information on possible changes to ACCESS. We will also hold a public hearing and public comment period so that riders and community members may comment on the proposals. View full details.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Winter Weather: What to Expect, Where to Get Information

Port Authority would like to remind its riders of resources for service information, as well as what to expect during winter weather events.

Routine Snowfall

In the case of routine snowfalls of a few inches – such as the snowfall experienced last week – Port Authority service typically operates normally, with all routes in service and serving their usual areas.

Since small amounts of snowfall are typical for Pittsburgh, Port Authority will generally not post special announcements during these times.

However, riders should be aware that slower traffic, reduced visibility and/or untreated, slick road surfaces may lead to some bus delays and should allow for extra travel time. Our drivers are committed to getting you to your destination as safely as possible.

During these times, Port Authority will operate on its normal Customer Service phone line schedule, 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekends and major holidays. 412-442-2000 or for TTY, 412-231-7007.

Port Authority’s Twitter account will be staffed during its usual business hours (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday). Please note that our Twitter account cannot provide route-specific information during routine snowfall, such as whether a particular route is running late and by how much.

Heavier Snowfall

In the case of heavier snow, Port Authority may issue general information about systemwide delays on its website/mobile site (under Rider Alerts), Twitter account and through local media (print, TV and radio). Riders are encouraged to check the website first.

Port Authority’s Twitter account will be monitored during its usual hours, but may post special announcements as needed.

If you are seeking route-specific information, please try dialing Customer Service during its normal hours.

During times of heavier snowfall, you may wish to head to a main road or park and ride lot to catch your bus. Generally, if your local road has not yet been cleared and appears to be difficult for drivers, you might consider this option.

Blizzard Conditions

In the case of a blizzard, Port Authority’s service is likely to see widespread disruptions, with many routes either suspended or serving limited areas.

During these major storm events, information will be posted on Port Authority’s website/mobile site (under Rider Alerts) and blog, and available through its Twitter account, which will hold extended hours on an as-needed basis. Riders are encouraged to check the website for information first.

This information will detail which areas are not being served due to extreme weather, or which routes are not operating at all. Please note that Port Authority’s Twitter account cannot give specific information on how late a particular route or trip might be delayed.

Customer Service will be open its normal hours during major snow events for rider assistance and information.

In very severe instances, Port Authority may even suspend service entirely due to safety concerns.  This information will be distributed to the local media (print, TV and radio), as well as posted on the website/mobile site and announced on Twitter.

Dr. Edna B. McKenzie & Monsignor Charles Owen Rice Honored With 2012 Spirit of King Awards

Dr. Edna B. McKenzie and Monsignor Charles Owen Rice were honored today at the 2012 Spirit of King Award Ceremony, held at the Kingsley Center in East Liberty.

The Spirit of King Award, established in 1989 by the Kingsley Association, Port Authority of Allegheny County and the Pittsburgh Pirates, posthumously honors the lifetime achievements of local citizens who pursue human rights and equality in the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. Edna B. McKenzie was a reporter, educator, historian, author and advocate for social change. In the 1940s, she was one of the Pittsburgh Courier’s first female reporters, working tirelessly to expose discrimination and social injustice. Dr. McKenzie later had a distinguished academic career, establishing and chairing the department of Black, Minority & Ethnic Studies at the Community College of Allegheny County. Her legacy includes stints on many boards and committees devoted to higher education, as well as numerous articles and two books, Freedom in the Midst of a Slave Society and Selected Essays on Contemporary African-American Issues. Dr. McKenzie died in June 2005.

Monsignor Charles Owen Rice used his position as a Roman Catholic priest to fight against racism and champion the labor movement. His advocacy was expressed through radio programs he hosted as well as weekly articles in the Pittsburgh Catholic. Monsignor Rice was also an active member of the NAACP and an advocate for equality for African-American workers. In 1967, he walked arm-in-arm with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to the United Nations building to protest the Vietnam War, and later spoke at the March on the Pentagon protest rally, throughout the years articulating a Catholic vision of social justice and responsibility. Monsignor Rice died in November 2005.

To learn more about Dr. McKenzie and Monsignor Rice, as well as past Spirit of King honorees, visit our Spirit of King webpage at

Service Information for Martin Luther King Jr Day

Port Authority of Allegheny County will provide regular weekday bus, light rail and incline service on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Monday, Jan. 16). However, the Downtown Service Center on Smithfield Street will be closed in observance of the holiday.

The Customer Service phone line will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., but Port Authority's Twitter account will not be staffed that day.

For more information, call Customer Service at 412-442-2000 or for TTY, 412-231-7007.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Informational Public Meeting on Bus Rapid Transit: Jan. 12

Get There PGH, a partnership of more than 30 community organizations, is advancing a plan for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) linking Downtown Pittsburgh and Uptown with Oakland and possibly other East End neighborhoods.

Bus Rapid Transit is designed to improve reliability and efficiency while reducing travel times and operating costs. In other cities, Bus Rapid Transit has been shown to support community revitalization initiatives and act as a catalyst for development. Get There PGH believes Pittsburgh can enjoy similar benefits from the implementation of Bus Rapid Transit in this corridor.

Get There PGH’s collaborators include innovators, nonprofits, transportation advocates, cyclists, local officials, civic leaders, educators, investors, neighborhood developers and business leaders.

All are invited to attend an informational public meeting on Get There PGH and the ongoing Pittsburgh-Oakland-East End Bus Rapid Transit Study:

Thursday, January 12, 2012
Two sessions: 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.; 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
University of Pittsburgh Alumni Hall Ballroom
4227 Fifth Ave. (between Lytton & Tennyson avenues) in Oakland

All members of the public are encouraged to attend to learn more about the project, provide ideas and discuss Bus Rapid Transit with project representatives. Brief presentations will be provided at 12:15 p.m. and 6:15 p.m.  

For more information, visit

The public meeting location is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  If you require special assistance due to disability or limited ability to read, write, speak or understand English, or otherwise need additional information, please contact:

Ginette Walker Vinski
Sustainable Pittsburgh

Presented by Sustainable Pittsburgh on behalf of Get There PGH and the BRT Stakeholders Advisory Committee.