Port Authority board approves fare hike, big service cut

Wednesday, November 24, 2010
By Jon Schmitz, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Bob Donaldson/Post-Gazette
People protesting public transit cuts gather outside the Port Authority headquarters on Sixth Avenue, Downtown,
The Port Authority board of directors today approved a Jan. 1 fare increase and the biggest service reduction in the transit agency’s history — 35 percent — scheduled for March 13.
“Today’s a very dark day for Port Authority and all those who benefit from public transit in our region,” CEO Steve Bland said.
The actions were needed to close a $47 million 2010-11 budget deficit caused in large measure by the failure of Act 44, the state’s transportation funding law.
Much of the funding for roads, bridges and public transit hinged on imposition of tolls on Interstate 80. The Federal Highway Administration rejected the proposal this year.
The state Legislature has not acted to fill a $472 million funding gap caused by the federal government’s decision.
Anger was palpable among authority board members, who voted unanimously for the fare increase and service cuts.
“We have been backed into a corner by inaction, apathy and a complete disregard for the greater good,” board member Joan Ellenbogen said.
“The powers that be have turned their backs on the people who depend on transit to live their very lives.”
In January, the Zone 1 fare will rise to $2.25 and the Zone 2 to $3.25. Transfers will go up 25 cents to $1.
Mr. Bland said the service cuts, which will fully eliminate more than 45 routes and service to 50 neighborhoods, could be reversed if the legislature provides additional funding before March.
The prospects for that, he said, “are very grim.”
Before the meeting, about 50 protesters rallied outside authority headquarters on Sixth Avenue, Downtown.
“Our elected officials have failed transit in the commonwealth, said Patrick McMahon, president of Local 85 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents bus and trolley operators and mechanics.

First published on November 24, 2010 at 10:42 am

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