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: