Anne Hodapp’s Story

Anne Hodapp is a single mother who lives in Pitcairn, a small borough just a few miles south of Monroeville. Her 10-year-old daughter has several disabilities and has seizures, but ACCESS has said she is not disabled enough to qualify for their door-to-door transport service for seniors and the disabled. The Port Authority has announced that at the end of March it will eliminate Route 72, Pitcairn’s bus link to Monroeville.

“I’ll still have the 69 to get into Oakland or Pittsburgh, but no service to Monroeville. That means I’m not going to be able to get to any of her Monroeville doctor appointments or to shopping. My daughter sees several specialists in Monroeville.” 

“In Pitcairn there’s a lot of people like me who don’t have cars – it’s low income – and they rely on that bus to get not only to shopping but to work. There’s a high rise for elderly down on Broadway and a lot of them use that bus.”

“The bus to Monroeville used to be every hour. Then in the first round of cuts it went to every hour and 15 minutes, and we lost the part of the route that came up the hill where we live. The last cut in the fall, put us down to every two hours. When it went to two hours we lost our convenient transfer to the Monroeville Shopper, which means we can’t get to the library and the hospital without a long wait. So then it took us three hours to get to Forbes Hospital, which is 10 minutes from here. Now that bus will be gone.”

“I don’t know what I’m going to do. My daughter gets medical assistance transportation because of her disabilities where I either get reimbursed for bus fare or they send me bus tickets. I have to call them and see – “I’m losing my bus, can we now get ACCESS for her appointments?” I don’t know what the answer’s going to be.”

The Myth of the $100,000 Bus Driver

There have been rumors and misinformation heard from time to time that Port Authority drivers are paid huge salaries of up to $100,000 a year. These attempts to blame the hard-working drivers for the cuts in bus service don’t stand up to the facts.

The starting hourly wage for a PAT driver is $16.05. The top wage rate for drivers is $24.50. That’s a modest wage in today’s economy, and drivers work hard in a job with tremendous responsiblities. They safely transport hundreds of people a day to their destinations in a huge vehicle, while dealing with the sometimes-unpredictable behavior of other motorists and occasional conflicts among riders.

Some drivers put in a very long workday for which they are only partially compensated. If a driver ends up with a route that’s on a “split shift” he or she drives in the morning and again in the afternoon, but in between may have as much as three or four hours of unpaid downtime. If the driver lives a long distance from the bus garage (in the South Hills, for example, while driving out of the Harmar or East Liberty garage), it is senseless to go home and then come back. So the driver has to wait (without pay) at the garage, and may routinely get home 12 or 13 hours after leaving in the morning.

Keep the ‘Public’ in Public Transit: Privatization is a Bad Deal

by Andrew Wagner
photo by Dawn Jackman-Biery

With the Port Authority of Allegheny County in financial trouble, we’re hearing the call for “privatization” from some powerful political and business interests. These privatizers include some of the same politicians whose failure to adequately fund transit helped create the crisis, and they include business people who see big bucks to be made running private transportation. A good deal for them maybe, but for transit riders and workers, privatization is a very bad deal.

Let’s not forget why the Port Authority was created in the first place. It rose in the 1960s from the ashes of over thirty different private transit companies that failed. Focused on competing with each other and making profits for their owners, these private companies failed to invest in upgrading their fleets of buses and trolleys, which were frequently in disrepair and fell into obsolescence. These companies didn’t grant transfers to routes run by other companies, making travel complicated and costly for their riders.
When the Port Authority was created as a public transit agency, it acquired all of the routes and infrastructure of the old companies, and was able to rationalize the system by eliminating route redundancies, streamlining the transfer process, and standardizing the fare scales. It also almost immediately purchased hundreds of new buses and trolley cars to replace the decades-old fleets of the old companies. Since that time, the Port Authority has overseen the successful construction and operation of the busways and the subway system, and has continued to operate Pittsburgh’s famous inclines, while providing affordable public transit for hundreds of thousands of people daily.
But with the onset of the economic crisis, politicians in Allegheny County, Harrisburg, and Washington are coming up short on funding, and the Port Authority is in crisis. Predictably enough, here come the privatizers, like vultures circling a wounded animal. Lenzner Coach Lines, which specializes in long-distance bus tours, wants to snatch up two of the bus routes slated for total elimination in the March round of cuts – the 13J Franklin Park Express and the 13K Marshall Express.
The privatizers always argue that the free market is best because competition drives price down – except in this case it does just the opposite. Lenzner wants to charge $10 round trip from the Warrendale and $11.50 a day from Franklin Park to fill the void left by Port Authority route eliminations. Riders would have to commit to buying a monthly pass, and Lenzner will not offer discounts to elderly or disabled passengers. The Port Authority charges $3.25 per ride for these route, and a Port Authority monthly pass is valid throughout its entire system, not just on two routes in the North Hills. So much for the myth that competition drives prices down – here we see the developing embryo of a for-profit transit monopoly. The vultures are picking at the calf before it’s even dead!
The experiences of Denver, Milwaukee, and Los Angeles show that privatization doesn’t work. These cities’ privatized transit systems have suffered problems such as transit companies suddenly going bankrupt due to mismanagement; transit companies that jacked up their fares in the second round of contracting, after low-balling offers to get their foot in the door; and widespread safety and customer service problems stemming from high rates of turnover among their underpaid, non-union employees. (The unionized and veteran workforce of the Port Authority actually has one of the very best safety records of any transit system in the country).
The record of transit privatization, past and present, is that it’s a bad deal for the public. Why is it even proposed? Some privatization advocates have an ideologically-driven hostility to unions, union members, and the idea of the government providing public services. Some also stand to make a buck from the deal. (In the case of politicians who push for privatizing public services, it’s sometimes useful to see who their friends are and who donates to their campaigns.) Say no to those who play politics with your daily commute: keep ‘public’ in public transit!
Andrew Wagner is a student, worker and bus rider.

Transportation is Our Need – and Our Right

photo by Dawn Jackman-Biery

by Mel Packer

Imagine, Dear Rider, that you go to your usual bus or trolley stop and find that it is strangely silent, that others have been standing for quite a while and no bus has been seen. You ask another rider who tells you that the news says that the commuter highways are jammed more than usual. Finally, you and the other regular riders walk another half mile, hoping to find other transportation.
Is it terrorism? Has someone sabotaged the transit system? Is there an unannounced strike? Shivers run through you as you contemplate life without public transit. You wonder how you will get to work and shopping. How your elderly grandmother will get to her medical appointments? How your disabled neighbor will see his friends and remain part of his already limited social circle?
And then, finally, the truth is revealed. The system is broken, the money is gone, the governments that are supposed to help have abandoned us all and said that we must find our own way around and that it’s not their responsibility to subsidize public transit.
They say that if it can’t pay for itself through your ever-increasing fares and forcing the PAT workers to work for lower pay year after year, then you should find your own way to get around in the world.
Your employer, who directly benefits from your ability to get to work using public transportation, has no sympathy and just says, “Get to work on time if you want to keep your job”.
The businesses you travel to on PAT, where you shop and increase their profits, insist that they have no responsibility to help fund public transit. They just assume you’ll find some other way to get to their store and spend your money.
Your medical providers shrug their shoulders and suggest you ask friends or relatives to haul you to your appointments.
Government environmental agencies warn of dramatically increased air pollution with 10,000 more cars stuck in traffic on the parkways and streets, with their engines idling, but say there’s nothing they can do about it.
Clearly, we are heading for disaster unless we start to realize that mass public transit meets vital needs in our society, and that it must be supported and subsidized at a level that will increase its availability and make it cheaper, not more expensive, for people to use.
Almost every time you or I ride mass transit, some corporation or business receives a hidden benefit. Public transit delivers their employees and customers to their door. It reduces traffic congestion so trucks can get through our city and suburban streets to make deliveries. Transit keeps the whole economy of our region moving so companies can do business and make money. Those same companies now need to step up now and support transit financially.
Mass public transit can no longer be viewed as a service that benefits just part of our community. It is an essential part of a healthy, functioning society and it must be improved and expanded make it available to all. Especially in a metropolitan area like Pittsburgh, transit is something we can’t do without. It must be seen as a right, not some sort of privilege that riders must buy with ever-increasing fares.
We need to organize, as riders, as commuters, as citizens, as workers, as people who care about the future of our city and believe meeting human needs should be the first priority.
Pittsburgh has been honored as one of America’s “most liveable cities.” Destroying our transit system will make this city much less liveable. It will cause severe hardship for thousands who can no longer get to their jobs, or get to grocery stores, medical care and other vital services.  For the rest of us, it will mean a city with dirtier air, streets more clogged with traffic, and huge delays and hassles getting to work, to school, or anywhere else.
Pittsburghers love our sports teams, but it takes more than sports championships to attract or even keep residents and employers. We need a good mass public transit system that serves all of the people all of the time.
This is something worth fighting for. Join us, check out our website, contact us, help hand out our literature, talk to your neighbors and fellow riders. Do it now. Don’t wait for “someone else” to do it for you. You are that someone else.
Mel Packer is a physician assistant who rides PAT using his senior bus pass.

Stop the Cuts! 24 Hours of Action!

Stop the Cuts!
Sign-up for 24 Hours of Action to Save
Public Transit in Allegheny County!
Beginning at 11:00 AM on Thursday, March 24 through 11:00 AM Friday, March 25
Culminating in a rally on Friday at 8:30 AM before the Port Authority Board Meeting
At Port Authority Head Quarters, 6th St. and Smithfield Ave. in Pittsburgh
Help pass fliers, gather signatures on post cards and petitions make signs, cheer on speakers and entertainers, record personal testimony from transit riders and workers who will suffer from loss of transit serves, join faith leaders for a sunrise prayer breakfast and raise your voice with hundreds of others as we rally together before the Port Authority Board Meeting.
For more information call Bryon Shane 412.999.9208 or Mike Harms at 412.715.5212



Photos by Dawn Jackman-Biery

From the Post-Gazette:

Nancy Downie of Delmont had never participated in a protest in all of her 58 years but Saturday she joined a Squirrel Hill march and rally by an estimated 500 like-minded opponents of impending Port Authority service cuts.
Simply put, she came “to save my bus,” Ms. Downie said as the hourlong peaceful march and rally broke up. “I need to go back and forth to my job in the U.S. Steel Building. I have to get to work. There’s already standing room on it.
“We need our bus.”
That was the rally’s theme as time ticks away to March 27, the date the authority plans to cut service by 15 percent and eliminate 29 routes because of inadequate funding.
The permitted march, sponsored by Pittsburghers for Public Transit and members of Local 85, Amalgamated Transit Union, began at noon at Beacon Street and moved down the center of closed Murray Avenue to the intersection with Forbes Avenue.
About 300 people peacefully marched with another 200 supporters on the periphery, said Pittsburgh police Sgt. Cristyn Zett. Pittsburgh police had prohibited parking on Murray and conducted rolling closures of intersections as the march moved north.
At Forbes, the protesters gathered on the lawn of the Sixth Presbyterian Church as speaker upon speaker used a bullhorn to decry the cuts as anti-union, anti-poor, anti-working class, anti-environment, anti-common sense.
The sunlit protest had a festive flair. There were cheers and chants, smiles and handshakes among the diverse crowd. Teenagers stood next to the elderly, the disenfranchised mixed with the middle class, all facing a common loss, all applauding and voicing their resolve not to accept that fate so loudly they could be heard blocks away.
One blonde girl, about 9 years old, held a bright yellow sign reading, “Steve, Please don’t take my mom’s job,” referring to Port Authority CEO Steve Bland. Among the dozens of handmade signs: “Yinz Need Transit,” and “Power to the People for Public Transit,” and “Tax Cuts for Rich = No Transit.” Across Forbes, a trumpeter serenaded the crowd with “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
“What’s disgusting? Union busting!” the group chanted over and over. That gave way to “Fire Steve Bland. Fire Steve Bland.”
And then, at 1 p.m., the crowd broke up quietly after making a promise to continue the protest Friday before the Port Authority’s monthly 9:30 a.m. board meeting at its Downtown headquarters in the Heinz 57 Center on Sixth Avenue.
“It’s our last chance,” one speaker said.
Ms. Downie said she has to work Friday or she would be planning to attend her second-ever protest. But between now and then she will be working the phones, she said, calling Port Authority members to tell them: “We need buses.”
Michael A. Fuoco: or 412-263-1968.

First published on March 20, 2011 at 12:00 am

Read more:


Location & Time
Beacon and Murray to Forbes and Murray in Squirrel Hill at NOON

Created by:

The Port Authority plans to institute an unnecessary and devastating 15 percent service cut on March 27th. Transit riders, workers, and all those concerned about the health of our city must show Port Authority’s management and the politicians that run our county and state that we won’t stand for this attack against our transit system. Wisconsin and Egypt have shown us the way to fight back!


More transit, not less!

Stop the March 27th cuts!

Dedicated transit funding now!

No to privatization!

Port Authority’s workers are the heartbeat of our city, not the problem! Defend their livelihoods!

Fund transit instead of bailouts, wars, and tax cuts for the ultra-rich!

Please forward as widely as possible! This issue effects every person living in Allegheny County! The cuts WILL put thousands more cars on the road, so even if you drive, your daily commute will become much longer!

Organized by Pittsburghers for Public Transit and ATU Local 85

Questions? Want to help? Contact:

Riders, Workers Take Fight Against Service Cuts To Grant Street

County Council Asks Port Authority To Postpone Bus, Trolley Cuts
From WTAE:

PITTSBURGH — About 75 Port Authority workers and riders gathered early Tuesday evening in front of the Allegheny County Courthouse — where a County Council meeting was taking place — and rallied against proposed cuts to bus and trolley service.

Protesters wanted the council to pass a resolution asking the Port Authority to spend all of its $45 million in emergency state funding by the end of the fiscal year in June, in an effort to avoid transit cuts that are scheduled to take effect March 27.

The resolution passed, but the Port Authority has not said whether it will go along with the request to shelve the cuts.

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85 President Pat McMahon said that the Port Authority’s budget is balanced, so there is no reason for the cuts to be made.

“It will affect my ability for literally going everywhere,” bus rider Katrina Kilgore said about the cuts. “It will limit my ability for going to doctor’s appointments, for getting to work.”

Signs at the rally included “Save Our Transit,” “We Need The Bus” and “Pretend We’re A Stadium — Fund Us.”

In December, then-Gov. Ed Rendell struck an agreement with the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission to divert $45 million to the Port Authority on an emergency basis to head off a much larger round of service cuts.

The Port Authority has said that a new, smaller round of cuts in March will allow it to stretch the temporary funding over 18 months, rather than spending all of it by June 30.

Also, CEO Steve Bland has called for a larger dedicated source of annual state funding that the authority can count on for its budget each year.


March 1st· 4:00 pm

Allegheny County Courthouse,
436 Grant Street
Pittsburgh PA

Tomorrow Tuesday March 1, 2011 at the Allegheny County Council Meeting. Assembly will begin at 4:00 pm in front of the Allegheny County Courthouse, 436 Grant Street. Council Meeting will begin at 5:00 pm on the 4th Floor in the Gold Room. County Councilman Nick Futules from District 7 will be introducing a resolution to stop the closing of the Harmar Garage and the Unnecessary 15% service cuts. County Council has also invited Port Authority Board of Directed President Jack Brooks to testify in front of Council. We need attendance from every available person. Let our voices be heard.

Please Pass this along to your contacts!