Thursday, March 19, 2015

Transit Worker Appreciation Day a Success!!

Thanks to over a dozen PPT volunteers, we distributed close to 2000 cards for riders to give to their operators! We also delivered cards to over 100 maintenance workers. Many riders were enthusiastic to thank their drivers, who were often thrilled to be acknowledged. Thanks to all who helped spread the word, including GoBurgh, Bike Pittsburgh, ACTC, Port Authority, and WESA.

Let's continue to thank these transit workers every day...for keeping us moving!
























Thursday, March 12, 2015

March 18 is Transit Worker Appreciation Day!

***MEDIA ADVISORY***

Transit Worker Appreciation Day

Wednesday March 18th is National Transit Worker Appreciation Day. Pittsburghers for Public Transit (PPT) encourages riders and residents to thank our Port Authority bus and rail operators and maintenance workers for keeping us moving.

Pittsburghers for Public Transit is coordinating over a dozen volunteers to distribute thank you cards to transit riders, who can deliver them to their bus operators. We will also be distributing cards to maintenance workers. These cards say: “Because you rock, I roll,” and “Thanks for keeping us moving.”

On March 18th, cards will be available between 12 and 1 and between 3 and 5 at both of the following locations:
-Outside Wood St station downtown
-Forbes and Bigelow in Oakland.

Riders can print out their own cards at this website

We appreciate the opportunity to thank and honor the over 2,000 public transit workers in Allegheny County who get riders to our destinations safely. These workers are out 365 days a year in rain, snow, ice, and frigid temperatures, as well as our hot summers. Bus operators collect fares, help riders find their way, handle safety issues, keep to a strict route schedule, and manage their way through traffic—along the steep and winding streets of our region. Maintenance workers maintain, repair, and clean the rails, buses, busways, stations, etc.  These workers are the backbone of our transit system, and we are grateful for the work they do each day to keep Allegheny County moving.

“The drivers deal with all the traffic so that I don’t have to.” –James Keener.

“I appreciate transit workers because they drive me to all of the places I need to go safely and stress free.” –Daisha Bernal

Social media tags: #pghlovestransitworkers, #transitworkerday, #twd, #thankyoutransitworkers, #Pgh4Pubtransit

Facebook event 

Questions?

Contact: Molly Nichols
info@pittsburghforpublictransit.org
(412) 216-9659

Friday, March 6, 2015

Residents speak to Port Authority Board about getting service to transit deserts

On Feb 27, residents from Moon and Robinson delivered public comments about the need for transit in their communities.

Here are Groveton Village residents after addressing the board. They currently face a cold 1.5 mile walk to the bus in Coraopolis:



Rebecca Kiernan, Sustainability Coordinator for the Township of Moon, also addressed the board with the following comments:

Moon is located 17 miles west of Pittsburgh off I-376. A typical suburban community, the Township developed with the automobile in mind; neighborhoods of cul-de-sacs make for a lack of connectivity, sidewalks are sporadic, and stores and amenities are not in residential zones.

In the Mooncrest community of Moon, the loss of transit service has had devastating effects for the geographically isolated and predominantly low-income neighborhood. When buses were cut in 2011, residents lost mobility and employment. Residents without vehicles walk two miles to the closest bus stop and three miles to the closest grocery store- down a steep hill and along a busy, dangerous four lane road as seen in photos below.




Roughly 20% of residents in the Township are over the age of 60, and planning for the aging population is a major theme in the Township’s proposed Comprehensive Plan. Seniors who want to age in place, and no longer drive are severely limited in access to basic resources. The Moon Area Senior Citizens Association regularly battles lack of transit in their meetings.

Robert Morris University, which has expanded its campus and enrollment has difficulty attracting commuting students. Students who live on campus have limited mobility to leave campus to explore and participate in internships and opportunities throughout the Township and the region. RMU representatives are both supportive and fully active in the Township’s efforts to enhance mobility, and participate in existing bike/ped, public transit and economic development committees.

Commuters to Moon such as myself, total more than 21,000 per day, heading to large companies like FedEx and Eaton, located in Moon’s business parks. The sheer amount of commuters redefines the lack of public transit to and around Moon as a regional issue. The University Boulevard Park-and-Ride is located half a mile from Airside Business Park, which houses Michael Baker Int’l. and other major offices, employing a substantial portion of the commuters- this stop is also one mile from RMU. The stop serves the G3 Moon Flyer, which takes people from Moon to Downtown on weekday mornings, returning empty between trips because there is not a return trip option from Downtown to Moon- it does the reverse in the afternoon. I pass the G3 daily on my way to and from work- completely empty because there is no reverse commute line.

Public transportation would reduce the more than 18,000 single occupancy vehicles commuting to Moon, easing traffic, improving regional air quality and reducing carbon emissions. Traffic on I-376 West is nearly, if not as bad as, inbound traffic to the City. Easier commutes would prevent suburban sprawl and reduce blight in the City as commuters wouldn’t need to move to the suburbs for work.

While it does not address the needs of most Township residents, opening the doors to the G3 Moon Flyer and allowing ridership on the existing trip of the reverse commute seems like an easy tweak in service that would have great regional benefits.

As Moon strives to improve its livability, we know that the Port Authority is a crucial player in enhancing mobility.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

PPT speaks at Port Authority Board meeting emphasizing the importance of public input

Here are excerpts from PPT's comments delivered by Molly Nichols and Jonah McAllister-Erickson on January 30, 2015:

We want to thank the Port Authority for being open to hearing PPT’s concerns and questions and to meeting with residents who have particular service requests. PPT and the residents appreciate the open dialogue, and as you know, we will continue to push for adequate service.

Over the next few months, as the Board works on next year’s budget and considers the new criteria for adding service and responding to service requests, we hope you keep the following in mind: The state funding formula may primarily be based on ridership and performance, but we hope you keep residents’ needs and issues of equity front and center. There are some legal protections for residents, including civil rights legislation, and there is a recognition of the value of senior citizen ridership in the state funding formula, but otherwise, it is up to individual regions to ensure that those who most need the system get adequate service in their communities, especially those living in transit deserts.

We commend the establishment of this criteria, along with a transparent process for responding to service requests, and we ask that transit riders, workers, and residents have an adequate voice in determining the service priorities and process.

We also know that Port Authority is working on changing their fare policy. We anticipate that the staff and board will create the space for public input before a legally required hearing, when all the decisions have already been made. Talking to riders and workers about their experiences should inform whatever new policy is developed. And while we know that Act 89 mandated for the fares to go up this year, we commend Port Authority for insisting that that could not happen (based on how quickly the fares had risen over the past few years). But we are still concerned that the base fare is slated to rise in 2017. As you know, we currently have one of the highest base fares in the country, at 2.50. Not only does raising the fare disproportionately impact transit reliant and often low-income riders, it also discourages ridership. We understand a lot of complex factors go into a policy like this, and we hope that all stakeholders can work together to find the most equitable solutions.

In the spirit of public process, we also hope that Port Authority continues to work on making its data available to the public, so that we can all be better informed about our system and its possibilities. This request is aligned with a national movement for open data.


Finally, as the board and staff work on these fundamental decisions about our transit system, we encourage you to be regular riders of our transit system. There is certainly no better way to fully understand its needs and potential.

--

And Port Authority announced they will soon be selling system maps for 2 dollars:



Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Contact County Council Members to Fund Public Transit

At the county council meeting on Dec. 2, Heather Heidelbaugh put forward an amendment to the operating budget that allocated 3 million dollars from the county’s transit support fund balance (from drink tax and car rental revenue) to Port Authority’s operating budget. These funds would allow Port Authority to add more transit service. This amendment was supported by Councilmembers Heidelbaugh, Hawkins, Daly Danko, and Robinson. The 11 other council members voted "no." 

Action steps you can take:

Please call or write Heidelbaugh, Hawkins, Robinson, and Danko to thank them for supporting the amendment. (Heidelbaugh is the Republican rep of the whole county. Hawkins is District 13, Robinson is District 10, and Danko is District 11).

If you are not in District 10, 11, or 13 (see map here: http://www.alleghenycounty.us/council/dist/coundis.aspx) please call to express your disappointment that your council member did not support this.

Below are the numbers and emails of the councilmembers. And here is the letter PPT sent to the council on Dec 10, which also highlights additional revenue that will be coming in this year

***

Dear Allegheny County Council Members,

Pittsburghers for Public Transit is writing to thank and acknowledge the council members who proposed and supported the amendment to the county operating budget that allocates 3 million dollars from the transit support fund’s balance to be used for Port Authority’s operating costs. These members are: Ms. Hawkins, Ms. Heidelbaugh, Ms. Danko, and Mr. Robinson. We deeply appreciate your recognition of the serious problem of transit deserts, and while we understand that the money cannot be designated to specific routes, any additional operating money that allows Port Authority to add service is a boon to our county and its residents. For example, in 2014, 2.7% of service was added for approximately 4 million dollars. This has made a huge difference for transit riders.

We are disappointed by the council members who chose to vote “no” to this amendment. This allocation would not have to be a “one time thing.” The transit support fund (drink tax and car rental tax revenue) has grown by close to 10 million dollars in just 4 years, and the county can afford to designate a few million every year to operating costs. We cannot wait 10 more years for the state to come up with matching funds. The county has decided to fund capital projects without matching state money, so why can’t it fund operating costs without matching state money?

A few council members were concerned about what the Port Authority would do with the money. We want to clarify that the Port Authority is working on developing their “service guidelines” which lay out the process for how and where they add transit service. They have indicated that increasing ridership is their primary concern (especially due to the performance-based state funding formula), but they are also working to address the needs of riders throughout the county. The county is in a position to help them improve our transit system, and they should use their resources to do so.

We recently learned that the county transit fund will be collecting 650,000 additional dollars due to an error from a car rental company. Based on demonstrated need and ridership potential, this revenue should be allocated to Port Authority’s operating costs so that they can grow our transit system in the most equitable ways. We expect our council members to support using the county’s resources to the benefit of their most vulnerable constituents.

***

Contact info for council members:

County-wide Representatives
John DeFazio: jdefazio@alleghenycounty.us412-350-6516
Heather Heidelbaugh: heather.heidelbaugh@alleghenycounty.us412-638-8165

District 1: Thomas Baker, thomas.baker@alleghenycounty.us412-350-6525
District 2: Jan Rea, jrea@alleghenycounty.us412-350-6530
District 3: Edward Kress, edward.kress@alleghenycounty.us412-350-6535
District 4: Michael Finnerty, mfinnerty@alleghenycounty.us412-350-6540
District 5: Sue Means, sue.means@alleghenycounty.us412-350-6545
District 6: John Palmiere, jpalmiere@alleghenycounty.us412-350-6550
District 7: Nicholas Futules, nfutules@alleghenycounty.us412-350-6555
District 8: Charles Martoni, cmartoni@alleghenycounty.us412-350-6560
District 9: Robert Macey, rmacey@alleghenycounty.us412-350-6565
District 10: William Robinson, wrobinson@alleghenycounty.us412-350-6570
District 11: Barbara Daly Danko, bdanko@alleghenycounty.us412-350-6575
District 12: James Ellenbogen, jellenbogen@alleghenycounty.us412-350-6580
District 13: Amanda Green Hawkins, agreen@alleghenycounty.us412-350-6585 

Here is a video of the heated discussion of this topic on Dec 2 (you can watch it here starting at 2:50, it goes about 50 mins): 
http://allegheny.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=4&clip_id=604




Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Giving Tuesday!

Support from you will help us continue our campaigns for transit service! Click on the donate button above.


Monday, December 1, 2014

***MEDIA RELEASE***                                                               
Nov 21, 2014
Contact: Molly Nichols
    (412) 216-9659

Amendment to County Drink Tax Allocation Proposed

At the County Council Budget and Finance committee meeting on Thurs Nov 20, Councilwoman Green Hawkins and Councilwoman Heidelbaugh put forward an amendment to the proposed county operating budget for 2015. Co-sponsored by Councilwoman Danko, the amendment allocated 3 million dollars from the county’s transit support fund (revenue from the car rental and drink tax) to Port Authority’s operating budget. This is in addition to the 15% county match of the state subsidy for operating provided to the Port Authority.

Ms. Green Hawkins stated that various communities have been indicating their needs for transit service, and while the funds cannot be specifically directed, this additional money being provided each year would allow Port Authority to implement and sustain additional service.

Ms. Heidelbaugh stated that the “most vulnerable” members of our community cannot get to work or health care. She acknowledged that the 3 million will not solve the problem altogether, but if the county has this money and does not spend it, it is a disservice to county residents.

Ms. Danko acknowledged that the growth of the drink tax fund from 32 million in 2009 to 42 million in 2013 indicates that the money could be allocated for Port Authority’s operating costs each year.

The amendment failed with a vote of 3 to 6. Voting in favor were: Green Hawkins, Heidelbaugh, and Daly Danko. Those opposed were: Rea, Means, Futules, Macey, Palmiere, and Finnerty.


Pittsburghers for Public Transit commends the efforts of Council members Ms. Green Hawkins, Ms. Heidelbaugh, and Ms. Daly Danko to designate these funds for adding much needed transit service and expect the rest of the Council to work to find a solution to the inadequate service throughout the county.