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:
John DeFazio: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-350-6516
Heather Heidelbaugh: email@example.com, 412-638-8165
District 1: Thomas Baker, firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-350-6525
District 2: Jan Rea, email@example.com, 412-350-6530
District 3: Edward Kress, firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-350-6535
District 4: Michael Finnerty, email@example.com, 412-350-6540
District 5: Sue Means, firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-350-6545
District 6: John Palmiere, email@example.com, 412-350-6550
District 7: Nicholas Futules, firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-350-6555
District 8: Charles Martoni, email@example.com, 412-350-6560
District 9: Robert Macey, firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-350-6565
District 10: William Robinson, email@example.com, 412-350-6570
District 11: Barbara Daly Danko, firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-350-6575
District 12: James Ellenbogen, email@example.com, 412-350-6580
District 13: Amanda Green Hawkins, firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-350-6585
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):