Transit Group Celebrates Success But Says That More Work is Necessary in the Pittsburgh Region (6/26/2018)
“A grassroots effort to restore and maintain public transportation options for residents of the Mon Valley was celebrated Monday night in Rankin. But the message of Pittsburghers for Public Transit was clear: More work needs to be done.
The event at the Rankin Christian Center began with a victory party of sorts. Then the issue of access to public transportation for those who need it most — particularly low-income residents — took on a human face, with an eye on the future.
PPT, which maintains that transit is a human right and a civil right, unveiled a four-plank strategy titled “Riders’ Vision for Public Transit” to help the most marginalized residents.”
Pittsburghers for Public Transit to Release Its Vision for Future Service (6/26/2018)
“Those goals will center around using transit as an economic development tool; making sure all riders have equal access to transit services and amenities such as the ability to obtain prepaid ConnectCards; promoting transit as a way to reduce air pollution; and making sure new housing near public transit has a substantial percentage of affordable housing…
“We want to help line up other folks behind realistic, achievable solutions that will benefit the region,” Ms. Wiens said.”
If Amazon Came to Pittsburgh, Would it Give Back to the Community? (6/25/2018)
“The situation in Seattle underscores how difficult it is to push this multi-billion dollar company to contribute their fair share to the community,” said Laura Wiens, director of Pittsburghers for Public Transit, a grassroots organization advocating for equitable, affordable and sustainable transportation systems in Allegheny County.”
Should a Larimer Parking Lot Also Be Pitched as a Transit Center? (6/22/2018)
“The parking garage is the first step in a proposal to link Bakery Square, home to a Google office, to a new busway station that would also serve Hamilton Avenue in Larimer. Pittsburgh City Councilors Ricky Burgess and Erika Strassburger have given the project support, saying it will spur economic development and help create affordable housing.
But Laura Wiens of advocacy group Pittsburghers for Public Transit says the development’s two transit-related visions are antithetical.
“It is a terrible idea, we don’t want 700 people driving on Penn Avenue to then get on public transit,” says Wiens. “That is not how our transit system should work.”
Wiens says it would be better to encourage and improve Bakery Square’s existing public-transit access.
“We should be encouraging more frequency of the routes that already run through there,” says Wiens..”
Advocacy Groups File Court Briefs Supporting Media Efforts to Make Amazon HQ2 Bid Public (6/21/2018)
“Others in attendance Thursday spoke about how Amazon could displace residents.They argued that HQ2 would drive up housing and rent costs and force people to move outside of the city, where they would be farther from doctor’s offices and bus lines.
“People get pushed out to transit deserts. They’re not going to be able to get to food, to work, to child care,” said Crystal Jennings, an organizer with Pittsburghers for Public Transit and the Penn Plaza Support and Action Coalition.”
Protestors Demand Officials Make Amazon HQ2 Bid Public (6/21/2018)
“The city of Pittsburgh continues to resist calls to release its bid for Amazon’s second headquarters, or HQ2. At a protest Thursday skeptics said they worry about Amazon’s potential impact on housing, transit and existing inequities.”
Article from Press Conference Calling for Electrifying the Fleet (5/3/2018)
“Laura Wiens of Pittsburghers for Public Transit applauded the incremental progress the Port Authority has seen in winning the $500,000 grant for the agency’s first electric bus, but said there are multiple funding sources available that could help build a large scale fleet of electric buses. She mentioned that Pennsylvania is receiving about $118 million in a settlement from auto manufacturer Volkswagen. Wiens said some of that money could go to purchasing electric buses.
“Transit can dramatically reduce our carbon footprint,” said Wiens. “We hope to see a more robust effort.”
“P4 Protestors Call On City Officials To Release Pittsburgh’s HQ2 Bid”(4/26/2018)
“Laura Wiens of Pittsburghers for Public Transit said it’s ironic that the bid remains private during the P4 Conference, where one of the main focuses is “people.”
“I think its worth pointing out the hypocrisy of having a set of development principles that talk about equity and transparency and public process, and when it would be most consequential to be applying those principles to a bid that will transform development in Pittsburgh for generations, they’re not using them,” Wiens said.
Advocates Say Amazon HQ2 would not fit with Pittsburgh’s vision of equitable development” (4/26/2018)
Laura Wiens, head of transit advocacy group Pittsburghers for Public Transit, said Peduto’s failure to release Pittsburgh’s bid for Amazon second headquarters, also called HQ2, flies in the face of the values held up by p4. She also called on Peduto to make Pittsburgh’s bid to Amazon public.
“Amazon fails the p4 test,” said Wiens. “People don’t have the opportunity to weigh in, and they don’t even know what tax incentives are being offered.”
Wiens also said that if Amazon chooses Pittsburgh, it could lead to massive rent increases and bring an influx of wealthy developers to speculate on properties across the city. (Housing speculation is typically when people buy cheap properties and flip them for large profits when a neighborhood is redeveloped). Wiens noted that Seattle, home to Amazon, has seen exponential price increases over the years, and she worries that would happen in Pittsburgh.
“[Housing] speculation isn’t something either the mayor or Amazon can control,” said Wiens.
Crystal Jennings, also of Pittsburghers for Public Transit, criticized the subsidies that could be offered to lure Amazon to the Steel City. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Pennsylvania officials are offering $1 billion in tax breaks to attract the tech giant to either Pittsburgh or Philadelphia.
Jennings said those subsidies could be used more efficiently and more equitably. “Why not give those tax breaks to scores of small, minority-owned businesses?” asked Jennings.
“Protesters: Pittsburgh’s Secret Bid For Amazon Headquarters Violates P-4 Principles” (4/26/2018)
“We do agree with the four standards of the P-4. P-4 stands for people, planet, place and performance,” said Crystal Jennings.
The P-4 is meant to promote urban growth that is innovative, inclusive, and sustainable. But protesters say Pittsburgh’s secret bid for the Amazon headquarters violates P-4 principles.
“This bid is also led in part by the mayor, by the Heinz Endowments, by the county executive, by the Allegheny Conference,” said Laura Wiens.
“Our city needs to act in the interests of its residents and also have the public be involved in the decision-making around what kind of development do they want to see in their communities.”
“Starting From Scratch: New BRT Proposal Quells Fears About Service”(4/13/2018)
“It’s an amazing improvement, said Laura Wiens, director of Pittsburghers for Public Transit.
“That they thought that folks who currently don’t have access to a lot of service should be the ones that need service improvements the most,” said Wiens. “Rather than those in the Oakland-Downtown corridor who currently have the most options in our entire transit system.”
Wiens credited the shift to the many individuals who, for months, voiced their concerns at Port Authority board meetings, Allegheny County Council meetings, online and in postcards.”
PPT Director Laura Wiens at Transit Center Panel on Gender and Transit (4/5/2018)
Check out the video of the panel here.
Public Source Video: PPT Director Laura Wiens on Panel About Amazon and Democracy/Corporate Control (3/31/2018)
“There is a silver bullet narrative that goes along with [autonomous vehicle (AV)] technologies. To hear the companies tell it, AVs will eliminate congestion and air pollutants, provide faster and better transit access for underserved communities, eliminate parking lots and provide more available housing space and generate higher tax revenue from land use, increase safety, reduce operational costs, and give us new leisure time as we transition into our LED lit AI future.
But I’m going to paint a more realistic scenario, absent some pretty serious regulatory sticks. In 5 years, rich people in Fox Chapel are going to buy their own autonomous vehicles, have their cars drive them downtown and drop them off at work, then have the cars go home to park in the garage and wait to pick them up, driverless, at the end of the day. That’s double the emissions, double the congestion, in gas-powered vehicles…. Where they don’t operate, on the other hand, are Penn Hills, Duquesne, North Versailles, East Pittsburgh, and Braddock, and if folks from these communities can’t now afford to do their daily commute by Uber, they sure as hell won’t be able to afford an autonomous ride in a more expensive car in 5 years.
Maybe most importantly, the leisure time that AVs will usher in is that special timelessness of unemployment, and the inability to do wage work to care for your family and your basic needs. 1 out of every 15 workers in the US works in the trucking industry. In 39 out of 50 states, truck driving employs more people than ANY OTHER JOB. And add to that all taxi and Uber and Lyft and Access, and bus driver and delivery and sanitation driver jobs, and you’ve got one hell of an unemployment problem. Which is also a tax problem. We’re been promised 400 jobs from an Argo plant producing AV vehicle parts here in Pittsburgh. 400! How many of those tens of thousands of 55 year old truck drivers with a high school degree are going to become machinists? It’s hard to understand why the City of Pittsburgh insists not only in running headlong over the same cliff that we fell over in the late 70s and early 80s, but insisting on being the first to do so as well.”
…The problem is not Uber or Amazon, per se. Capitalism will do capitalism, and it’s the nature of these companies to disguise their harms in order to maximize profits. I lay the blame squarely at the feet of our elected officials and our public agencies who that are doing this work for them. Our City in January hosted a “Mobility Showcase” that was basically a several hour-long advertisement for AVs and other tech. Can’t those companies rent the convention center themselves?” – Laura Wiens, Director of PPT
“Pittsburgh-area riders penalized for paying cash fares on public transit” (3/19/2018)
“That 25-cent difference adds up. Over the course of a week, a cash rider with no transfers commuting to and from work pays $2.50 more than a ConnectCard rider. They would pay $10 more per month and $120 more per year. If they must transfer buses, the difference they’re paying widens further……….The higher cash fare “is something we’ve raised repeatedly. It’s an issue of equity, when you are forcing people to switch to a cashless fare system that involves paying a premium if you are paying with cash,” said Chandana Cherukupalli, a community organizer with advocacy group Pittsburghers for Public Transit.
Port Authority statistics show as of January, 8.7 percent of riders used cash. That’s a decline from January 2016, when 14.44 percent of riders paid their fares with cash.
“Bus Rapid Transit Plan Could Jeopardize Mon Valley Bus Service With No Clear Replacement” (3/13/2018)
“Laura Wiens is director of the nonprofit Pittsburghers for Public Transit, or PPT. She told a recent meeting of the URA board that she was troubled by how the service cuts came to be included in the proposal in the first place.
“I think…the process is a real problem,” she said. “We [PPT staff and members] have been at the Port Authority, we have been at County Council, and these folks should not have to fight after decisions are made just to mitigate the harm that you’re proposing to inflict on them.”
PPT Member Pearl Hughey also quoted: ”
“Speaking at a recent Allegheny County Council meeting, Rankin resident Pearl Hughey said the plan disenfranchises people.
“I just want to know: Are you comfortable with a proposal that further marginalizes and financially burdens those that are still trying to find their way out of the steel collapse? A proposal that is indifferent, biased, and gives the appearance of being a little slanted?””
“Port Authority CEO rethinks scrapping Mon Valley service to Downtown Pittsburgh” (3/7/2018)
A petition asks Port Authority to reconsider the service cuts, which would take effect when the agency’s planned Bus Rapid Transit system begins operating. It has been signed by the borough councils of Wilkinsburg, Rankin, East Pittsburgh, North Braddock and Swissvale and Duquesne City Council. The mayors of Homestead, Duquesne, North Braddock and Wilkinsburg also have signed on.
“For many of our residents in the East End and Mon Valley, the halving of their vital transit service frequency will be the difference between keeping and losing their jobs, and keeping or losing childcare,” the petition reads. “Riders in these communities are disproportionately transit-dependent, and many riders are the service workers and customers that are the economic engines of Pittsburgh’s largest employers.”
The group Pittsburghers for Public Transit has organized rallies and urged people to attend Port Authority meetings to share their concerns since May. It turned to Allegheny County Council this week for help. About 15 people made public comments about the proposed service cuts at a county council meeting Tuesday night.
“It will negatively impact my community. In fact, it will cripple it,” Duquesne Mayor Nickole Nesby told council members.
No one on the council responded publicly to the concerns, but they spoke with some of the speakers afterward, said Laura Wiens, director of Pittsburghers for Public Transit.
“It seemed like they were learning about the proposed service cuts for the first time, and many of them took notes,” Wiens said.
The group also asked county council for a public hearing on the issue and is awaiting an official response, Wiens said.”
PPT Member and Coalition Partner Helen Quoted in BRT Article (3/7/2018)
“They are isolated in that part of the area, people trying to get to downtown Pittsburgh will be heavily impacted,” said Helen Gerhardt with Just Harvest, a community-based organization helping low-income families.
She told Channel 11 the organization supports improving Port Authority bus services, but she thinks the changes to the selected routes will hurt thousands in the Mon Valley communities who rely on public transportation the most.
“We don’t feel the Port Authority is counting the low income people, especially those low-income people who transfer multiple times a day,” she said.
They want data released showing how service changes will impact the Mon Valley and for Port Authority to slow down its timeline.
“We are asking County Council to have hearings about the cuts to to 61ABC that would impact low-income people and seniors,” Gerhardt said.
BRT Leader Campaign Pearl Hughey Quoted in Article about BRT (3/7/2018)
“Pearl Hughey and her grandchildren recently watched a movie about Rosa Parks.
She told Allegheny County Council members Tuesday night that the youngsters asked her a lot of questions about what happened on that bus in Montgomery, Ala., in 1955.
‘The one thing I found myself explaining to them is that the way things that they saw in that movie were how things were then,’ Ms. Hughey said. ‘You can now get onto the bus, ride where you want, sit where you want. I ask you: Was I wrong or was I right?’”
PPT Member Jonah Mc-Allister Erickson gets quoted in article about Mon-Oakland Connector (3/4/2018)
“Jonah McAllister, spokesman for Pittsburghers for Public Transit, likes the idea of faster connections for Hazelwood, Greenfield and Oakland, and says the plan has gotten better after two years of citizen input. But he’d like to see more involvement of the Port Authority because public-private partnerships “could slowly starve the greater system,” Mr. McAllister said.”
Pittsburgh Vows to Complete BRT With or Without Threatened Federal Funding (2/23/2018)
“As transit advocates, there are certainly things to like about BRT,” says Laura Wiens, director of Pittsburghers for Public Transit. “We definitely like the idea of bus only lanes and transit signal prioritization and electric buses. The sidewalk and pedestrian infrastructure improvements all make sense to us.”
But, she continues, “Our concern is it’s a huge capital investment project that’s undermining transit service for our most transit-dependent riders.”
Panel on Amazon and Equity- Public Source Live Feed (2/12)
Check out the Public Source live feed of this past weekend’s community forum to discuss the possible impacts and concerns around the Amazon HQ2 proposal. PPT director Laura Wiens pointing out the importance of transit to thriving communities, and what Amazon HQ2 could mean for the lives of Pittsburghers, transit, and affordable housing in the city.
Mila Sanina, executive director of PublicSource
Carl Redwood, Hill District Consensus Group
Jourdan Hicks, The Hazelwood Initiative
Amanda Green, Director, Civil and Human Rights Department, United Steelworkers, Board member, Pittsburgh United
Laura Wiens, Pittsburghers for Public Transit
Facilitators: Jason Beery, Urbankind Institute and Jackie Smith, Pittsburgh Human Rights City Alliance
“In honor of Rosa Parks: an appeal for transit equity” (Feb 5, 2018)
“King expanded the focus of transit rights from the right to ride anywhere in a bus to the right to ride to anywhere you need to go on a bus. We are similarly expanding what is included in transit justice:
• Transportation justice: Every person in every neighborhood regardless of age, race, class, gender or disability should have the right to safe, convenient transportation at an affordable cost.
• Workers justice: The workers who build public transit infrastructure, who operate and maintain the systems and who get us where we need to go have the right to safe, decent working conditions and family-supporting incomes and the right to choose to be represented by a union.
• Community justice: Cars, trucks and other transportation emit a large proportion of our dangerous pollution, causing asthma and many other life-threatening conditions. Replacing cars and trucks with public transit is far healthier for individuals and communities. A just transit system will provide all communities fair access to the jobs and amenities of metropolitan areas.
• Climate justice: The lives and futures of Americans and all people are threatened by devastating climate change. As a U.S. federal court recently declared, all people have a right to a stable climate. That will require a rapid cut in the burning of the fossil fuels that emit the greenhouse gases that cause climate change. And one of the easiest, fastest and cheapest ways to do that is public transit run on clean, renewable energy.
Transit justice, in short, is essential for building a just and climate-safe future.”
Union Edge Labor Talk Radio Interviews Laura Wiens of PPT about Transit Equity Day (Feb 5, 2017)
Near the 30 min mark
PPT in Le Monde: “Pittsburgh, Laboratory City of the Autonomous Car” (Jan 31, 2018)
“But if these cars are now part of the landscape in Pittsburgh, they arouse very real reluctance among residents. Laura Wiens, a representative of a public transport user association, recalls that the Uber Volvo are loaded with cameras (seven) and sensors, and accumulate thousands of data on the streets, passers-by …
Their use by the police, their piracy or resale “is a real risk,” she worries. Uber says it does not intend to keep this data. …
Laura Wiens suggests that the public authorities “have a small fleet of autonomous cars, to guarantee the accessibility of this means of transport to all”. Another aspect particularly irritates the mayor, who signed the Paris agreement: that Uber vehicles are not electric.
…Associations call for the creation of a ” transition fund “ powered by companies to finance the conversion of these workers. “If we do nothing, this situation can be a real tragedy,” says Laura Wiens
New Port Authority CEO open to tweaking Bus Rapid Transit plans for Mon Valley riders (1/26/2018)
“Our whole mission is to connect people to everything that makes their life happen and based on what we’re hearing today, there’s not a strong sense from our public we can do that,” said Kelleman, who took notes next to the name of each rider as they spoke to the board. “So we definitely need to get out there and come up with some different ideas.”
Routes 71 A, B and D and routes 61 A, B and C would no longer go straight to Downtown, but a different route could be amended that would, such as the P7 or the P71, said Jim Ritchie, Port Authority spokesman.
“We should not be breaking these routes up. They’re lifelines between the poorest of the poorest areas,” Bonner said. “I enjoy this job immensely, but right now I think we’re in bad shape.”
“Like in East Liberty, like in the Lower Hill, taxpayer money is being used to pay for big developments that will make it harder for low-income communities and communities of color to access their basic needs” said Laura Wiens, director of Pittsburghers for Public Transit.
Transit Riders Protest Proposed Changes To Bus Routes Between Mon Valley, Downtown (1/26/2018)
“Signs, chants and cheers radiated from the corner of Wood Street on Friday morning as protesters gathered to show their opposition to the proposed changes to bus routes.”
“The bus line is a lifeline” was the chant they sang all morning, and that’s the gist of the stories told by people who say these changes would be bad news.
“The effect that it will have is it will cost me a lot more time and energy,” transit rider Cindy Paulding said. “I already build in time in case a bus doesn’t show up, but if they cut the service by 45 percent, it means I’m going to have to build in a lot more time.”
“Paulding doesn’t just ride the bus. She relies on the bus.”
“I use it for everything. I don’t have the luxury of getting into a car, you know, so buses are it,” she said.
“Paulding lives each day with a disability, like many others at the rally. They’re protesting a possible 45 percent reduction in direct trips from the Mon Valley to Downtown.”
“So we see the impact is going to be greatest on communities like Swissvale, Rankin, Braddock, Duquesne, McKeesport, Homestead,” Laura Wiens, executive director of Pittsburghers for Public Transit, said. “That additional transfer in Oakland for folks to continue downtown is an insurmountable barrier for riders with disabilities, for seniors…”
Mon Valley residents protest expected cuts to bus service (1/26/2018)
“Carrying signs and chanting, several dozen residents of the Monongahela Valley gathered Downtown Friday morning to protest expected cuts to bus service.
They say plans for a Bus Rapid Transit system between Downtown and Oakland would cut the frequency of service in communities such as McKeesport, Braddock, Rankin and Swissvale. They want the agency to rethink plans for $295 million system.
The 61A, B, and C route now provide direct service from Mon Valley neighborhoods to Downtown, but if the BRT system is built, those routes would end in Oakland and passengers would have to transfer to go Downtown.”
Crystal Jennings, housing/transit organizer for Pittsburghers for Public Transit, said that in some city neighborhoods, affordable housing is being removed and not replaced or it is being replaced with a much smaller number of affordable units.
“If Amazon comes here, we’re going to be like another New York City. At least that’s how I feel,” she said.
Fitzgerald Says New Port Authority CEO ‘Wants To Connect People’ To Jobs And Opportunities (1/18/2018)
“GAVIN: There were some changes last year. The switch to a one-zone fare system and steps toward a cashless fare system on the light rail plus a proposed enforcement of payment on the light rail which became a bit controversial. Critics say that armed PAT police would be enforcing it. Where do you stand on it? Will she re-evaluate what is already been put out there?
FITZGERALD: I want to let Katharine come in and evaluate how we do fare collections, how we do a lot of the different enforcement implementations are going to have to be done; let her talk to folks in the community, let her get a sense of what policies make sense and then she will be working with the Port Authority board and implementing policies that make sense.”
New Port Authority CEO says reviewing fare enforcement policy her first priority (1/18/2018)
“The coalition, which includes Pittsburghers for Public Transit, the Thomas Merton Center, Casa San Jose and the Alliance for Police Accountability, has been lobbying for civil enforcement by unarmed fare checkers that would treat fare evasion like a parking fine. The groups say they fear there could be deadly confrontations with recent immigrants, public school students and mental health patients who don’t understand when armed officers approach them to check whether they paid their fare.”
Residents urge Port Authority to maintain service for bus routes in the Mon Valley
“Last week, about 100 residents met at the Braddock Carnegie Library in Braddock to sign postcards asking the Port Authority of Allegheny County to consider their public-transit needs when considering changes that will likely come with the proposed implementation of a Pittsburgh Bus Rapid Transit system.”
WSJ – ” Cities Rush to Build Infrastructure – for Self-Driving Cars”(11/9/2017)
“Pittsburghers for Public Transit, an advocacy group, has raised concerns about autonomous vehicles, including their impact on bus routes in underserved communities and companies’ reluctance to share data about driverless cars they are testing. “We just don’t know how dangerous they are because we don’t have any data,” said Laura Wiens, the group’s director.”
Residents Push for Input around Lexington Technology Site (11/7/2017)
For too long, development has driven poor people out of neighborhoods, said Mel Packer of Pittsburghers for Public Transit.
“We have destroyed affordable housing,” he said. “We have the chance here to develop a model community of mixed housing.”
“A City for All Requires Transit for All” (11/2/2017)
“Bringing transit to people is expensive, especially in low-density areas. And the Port Authority of Allegheny County has limited resources. Ultimately, that means there’s a lot of pressure on people of low and moderate incomes, said Laura Weins, director of Pittsburghers for Public Transit.”
More powerful testimony around the BRT (10/30/2017)
If the BRT system moves ahead, it could result in a 45 percent cut in neighborhood service in the Mon Valley, Jonah McAllister-Erickson of Pittsburghers for Public Transit told the authority board last week. He called that “a job destroyer” for residents there…
Laura Wiens of Pittsburghers for Public Transit questioned whether the authority was showing a “lack of real will” to help residents in poor communities by considering cuts in service. Andrew Hussein of the Allegheny County Transit Council said changes in neighborhood service as a result of BRT could “turn Mon Valley service unto a cadaver.”
Don’t Criminalize Transit Riders Coalition Rallies Outside Rep Dom Costa’s Office (10/12/2017)
“For more than seven months, a coalition of groups has told the authority about the potential deadly outcomes of confrontations between armed officers and riders who don’t understand what is going on: public school students, new immigrants who don’t speak English or those with mental disabilities. The coalition has pointed out numerous other cities that use civilians for fare enforcement, treat it as a civil matter similar to a parking ticket and have no greater problem with fare evasion.
“It’s not clear to us what the issue is,” said Ms. Wiens after 50 people delivered more than 300 post cards against to the proposed policy to state Rep. Dom Costa’s Morningside office. Mr. Costa, a Port Authority board member and former Pittsburgh police chief, wasn’t there and couldn’t be reached for comment, but his office accepted the cards.”
More groups sign onto letter opposing policing on the T (9/29/2017)
Laura Wiens Quoted in Incline Article about Autonomous Vehicles (9/29/2017)
“Pittsburgh became a stand-in for industrial decline over the past four decades after steel plants either moved overseas or replaced costly union workers with newfangled machines. For Laura Wiens, director of the advocacy group Pittsburghers for Public Transit, the threat of self-driving cars triggers the trauma of those tens of thousands of layoffs.”
Residents in Braddock, Duquesne, and McKeesport Finally Have Public Meetings Re: BRT (9/27/2017)
“At these upcoming BRT meetings, (Pittsburghers for Public Transit) will be urging the Port Authority to take the opportunity of the BRT to look at creating other routes that would allow Mon Valley riders to continue to be able to commute directly downtown, without transferring in Oakland,” Laura Wiens, of the nonprofit said. “At a minimum, residents from these communities should not be forced to pay bus transfer costs to go downtown.”
PPT Opposes Budget Cuts (9/7/2017)
Public transit advocates, too, also began mobilizing shortly after the budget announcement. Laura Wiens, who works with the group Pittsburghers for Public Transit, said her group would push back against the proposal and fight to help keep the Port Authority funded. She noted that more than half of the people who travel Downtown use public transit and that those who are most vulnerable will be hit the hardest.
“It’s not an exaggeration to say it’s going to have a drastic affect on the Allegheny County economy,” she said. “It’s going to have a massive impact on people’s lives.”
Mifflin Estates Gets Bus Service! (9/1/2017)
September 1st, 2017 The Port Authority’s quarterly route changes go into effect Sunday, including long-awaited service to a West Mifflin apartment complex. Mifflin Estates, a 201-unit Section 8 housing complex, has not had bus service since 2009. Residents attended Port Authority meetings to ask for the service addition since October, with help from Pittsburghers for Public Transit.
WESA Coverage on the Impacts of BRT
August 31st, 2017 “So far, they have only had community discussions in the places that stand to benefit from the BRT and not the places that are entirely bearing the negative impacts of it,” said Laura Wiens of Pittsburghers For Public Transit.
WSJ- “Converted Office Parks Try to Lure Millenials with Cheaper Rents”(8/22/2017)
“Some groups like the higher density. For example, Pittsburghers for Public Transit has been pressing for affordable-housing requirements at a proposed redevelopment of Lexington Technology Park, a 16-acre site that housed government agencies on the eastern edge of the city.
“Residents getting pushed to outer-ring suburbs need affordable housing near public transit,” said Laura Wiens, a coordinator with the group.”
Crystal Jennings, housing/transit organizer with PPT receives Incline Award
“As an organizer with Penn Plaza Support and Action Coalition, Jennings helped mobilize residents and communicated with members of the media. She recently joined Pittsburghers for Public Transit as a housing/tenant organizer, where she engages riders and tenants in campaigns for affordable housing near transit and for improvements to public transportation. ”
PPT, Duquesne and Braddock Residents Raise Concerns around Equity and Access with the BRT Proposal
Residents and Riders speak up at the July Port Authority Board Meeting about the possible negative impact of the BRT in their communities:
“Mamadou Ndiaye, an intern for Braddock, said the changes would put a burden on the borough’s many low-income residents traveling Downtown for access to health providers and other services.
“Within the borough, we don’t have many social services for our residents,” Ndiaye told the board. “So to impose a change that would make their commute time even longer … is something we see as being inequitable.”
From the Trib:
Post Gazette Covers PPT’s Call for Public Process in PAAC CEO Search
“The group recently presented the authority with a letter calling for the agency to allow groups to participate in the process and identifying the qualities it wants to see in a new CEO.
“We respectfully request that, as an important public asset, the public be given an opportunity to weigh in on the final selection of a CEO,” Laura Weins of Pittsburghers for Public Transit wrote.
The group recommended that “labor, riders, policy advocates, neighborhood groups and foundations” be involved in the initial screening process for a new CEO.
Then, finalists should participate in a public forum and take questions, much like some school districts and universities do before selecting a new leader.
Among the qualities the group wants to see in the new CEO is someone who “recognizes that mass transit is first and foremost a public good, and not a business out to make a profit.”
In addition to transit skills, the new leader also should show transparency by including community voices in all decisions; work toward reducing the negative impact that transportation and housing policy can have on low-income communities; have demonstrated skills working with other government leaders and community groups.”
Groups ask Port Authority not to enforce cashless fares with armed officers
“’Port Authority says they want to keep their riders safe, but this dangerous method of enforcement does the exact opposite for communities of color, people with disabilities, undocumented residents and low-income families,’ Christina Castillo, an organizer with the Thomas Merton Center, said in a news release.”
Port Authority policy would use police officers to enforce fare collection
“More than two dozen people came to the Port Authority Board meeting Friday to speak out against a new policy to enforce fare collections on the T.”
Groups press Port Authority to change plans for armed officers on T
“Amy Risko, a hospice nurse, said she and many co-workers use public transit. At least three times in recent months, she said, the collection box on the light rail car wouldn’t read her prepaid card.
‘Armed police officers are a terrible idea,’ she said. ‘No one here is endorsing fare evasion, but we are asking you to consider its long-term effect on riders.’”
Port Authority delays going cashless on the light-rail system until the end of the year
“’Obviously, we think delaying is the right thing to do if the equipment isn’t available yet,’ said Laura Wiens of Pittsburghers for Public Transit, one of four groups in the coalition.
‘We hope they use this time to rethink the enforcement policy.’”
Pittsburgh Welcomed Uber’s Driverless Car Experiment. Not Anymore.
“’The warning signs about Uber’s questionable business practices were all over the place, and the mayor should have recognized that and worked harder to create a partnership that was more equitable,’ Ms. Nichols said.
She added that there might be longer-term problems from autonomous vehicles, including automation’s effect on Uber’s 4,000 drivers in the city. Parking fees also make up about 15 percent of Pittsburgh’s revenue, and the city has not said how those funds would be replaced if fewer people owned and parked cars and used driverless services instead, she said.”
Editorial: The Port Authority is Ignoring Important BRT Stakeholders
“Molly Nichols of local advocacy group Pittsburghers for Public Transit is concerned about the frequency of ride service to these towns. The BRT will likely make local service less frequent, she said, adding that the outreach to these communities discussing this possibility has been lacking.
Nichols said her organization also strongly believes there shouldn’t be a transfer fee for these riders. We agree, and it seems like Mayor Bill Peduto does too.”
Port Authority forms subcommittee to look at automated payment system
“Molly Nichols, director of the advocacy group Pittsburghers for Public Transportation, also raised the issue of ConnectCard machines not working.
‘It was good to see the board acknowledge that they want to get more innovative, but it’s also crucial to acknowledge issues with the current [ticket vending] machines,’ Ms. Nichols said.”
Groups train volunteers to oppose Port Authority fare enforcement policy
“’We’re talking about for less than $5, we’re going to give people a citation up to $300,’ Brandi Fisher of the Alliance for Police Accountability said during a presentation about the policy before training began. ‘We’ve already seen across America where very small incidents can lead to someone’s death.
We’re not saying there shouldn’t be accountability for not paying a fare — it’s what that accountability should look like.’”
Coalition ‘disappointed’ with Port Authority fare enforcement policy meeting
“A coalition of groups concerned about Port Authority’s plan to use armed police officers for fare enforcement is turning up the heat against the policy.
The coalition began gathering signatures on petitions at light-rail stations Wednesday and posted a petition online to collect more signatures. In addition, there will be a public meeting at 6 p.m. June 15 at 1 Smithfield St., Downtown, for people to air concerns about the policy.”
Port Authority will discuss new fare enforcement policy with concerned groups
“The coalition wants the agency to consider a civil process that would go to a bill collector if the fare isn’t paid rather than a criminal process that could send someone to jail or lead to deportation if the rider is an undocumented immigrant. San Francisco, among other transit systems, uses civilian fare checkers to issue civil fines.”
Residents of West Mifflin enclave will get bus service in fall
“Residents of Mifflin Estates in West Mifflin have won their battle to have Port Authority bus service extended to their community.”
With the coming improvements of BRT, some bus riders will have to transfer to get all the way to Downtown Pittsburgh
“Molly Nichols, of transit-advocacy group Pittsburghers for Public Transit, sees potential upsides too, like congestion reduction. She points to Port Authority statistics showing that buses make up only 4 percent of vehicle traffic on the Fifth-Forbes corridor, even though 51 percent of people arriving in or moving through Oakland get there via bus.
But Nichols also worries about Mon Valley riders who will lose route frequency. She points out that if these riders, who are majority black and low-income, are negatively affected, Port Authority could face charges of violating civil rights.
‘They have to prove that a project like this doesn’t have disproportionate impact on minorities or vulnerable populations,’ says Nichols. She also wants Port Authority to ensure these added BRT transfers are free, since riders currently aren’t paying for them.”
Pittsburghers for Public Transit has many concerns about the BRT proposal
“We already know the stop spacing is proposed at one-third of a mile, and that could be a real issue for riders with mobility challenges. We are concerned not just about whether transfers would be free but also about the fact that so many riders would have to transfer. And we already know the local routes would come less frequently and are very concerned about that.
The city, county and Port Authority are asking for feedback on the four options to determine the ‘locally preferred alternative,’ but they have not laid out the precise impact each option would have on riders’ commutes. For example, if a rider currently takes a 61A into town from Braddock, how exactly would his or her commute be different?”
Pittsburgh Mayor Peduto says Uber must ‘fight for more than profit’
“We had concerns about Uber and its relationship to the city from the beginning,” said Molly Nichols, director of Pittsburghers for Public Transit. “While we appreciate that the mayor is sharing his concerns, we think that should have been part of the conversation from the beginning.
“Now that a precedent has been set, it remains to be seen how much leverage the mayor has.”
Port Authority of Allegheny County Leadership Quietly Shaken Up, Advocates Ask for More Transparency
CP photo by Aaron Warnick
“All of these big shifts with little public notice has made some advocates wary of the board-appointee process. Molly Nichols, of the public-transit-advocacy group Pittsburghers for Public Transportation, wonders why these big decisions happened so quickly and relatively quietly. She is calling for more transparency when board members are appointed.
‘PPT would like to see more transparent processes for board appointments, including naming the qualifications of appointees and holding public hearings,’ says Nichols. ‘This would give the public the opportunity to ask appointees how they plan to serve the transit riders of Allegheny County.’”
West Mifflin Residents Could Get Assist in Fight for Bus Service
“An effort by residents of a West Mifflin housing complex to reinstate bus service there could be getting a boost from elected officials.
Allegheny County Council on Tuesday will consider a motion to formally urge Port Authority to reinstate bus service to Mifflin Estates. The service was discontinued in 2009.
A group of Mifflin Estates residents have been going to Port Authority and County Council meetings for the past several months to urge officials to reinstate the route.”
Pittsburgh Housing Activists Protested Downtown. What are They Looking For?
(Photo by Stephen Caruso/PublicSource)
“Randall Taylor thinks Pittsburgh has a problem — a development problem.
Seeing tax burdens growing for seniors and people losing their homes in Lawrenceville, South Side and East Liberty — which are often deemed hot, up-and-coming neighborhoods — Taylor notices a pattern in Pittsburgh’s growth.
‘They’re leaving behind those who built those very neighborhoods,’ said Taylor, a 50-year-old who was forced out of his Penn Plaza apartment in East Liberty a year ago.
Taylor was one of the organizers of a protest attended by about 80 people on the steps of the City-County Building downtown Tuesday afternoon to protest the continued development of the Penn Plaza apartments site and the gentrification it represents.”
#DeleteUber lives on in Pittsburgh — and could threaten the company’s driverless car program
“The protestors are calling on Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto ‘to reject Uber as a partner to this city, and to evaluate other on-demand transportation options that would allow for a more accountable and publicly-controlled expansion of our transit system,’ according to their email.”
Pittsburgh Natives March Against Uber
“Citing the reports of the close relationship between Pittsburgh’s mayor and Uber’s CEO, Tom Conroy, a Port Authority bus driver and member of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85, thought Peduto needed to quit ‘kowtowing’ to Uber and show more transparency in his decision making.
In December 2016, PennLive reported that Peduto, as part of the city’s application for a competitive $50 million federal grant for infrastructure improvements, offered Uber access to the city’s busways in return for a $25 million investment in Pittsburgh’s infrastructure.
‘These backroom deals are not the kind of deals a progressive city should make,’ Conroy said.”
Pittsburghers Protest Uber as CEO Reacts to Public Outcry
Photo Credit: Jeff Roupe/KDKA
“Laura Wiens, a member of Pittsburghers for Public Transit and the organizer of Saturday’s protest, said they believe Uber’s public opposition to the ban and subsequent actions are just a reaction to bad press.
‘We can celebrate a small victory because Uber [CEO Travis Kalanick] has [stepped down from the economic council], but it was only after massive boycotts of their product. People had deleted their app, more than 200,000 people deleted their app,’ Wiens said. ‘And we think that they did it too late, frankly, because people’s lives were affected on Saturday’…
Wiens said they would like Mayor Peduto to reconsider Uber’s partnership with Pittsburgh.”
Group Rallies in Strip District in Opposition to Uber
“The protesters want Peduto to ‘evaluate other on-demand transportation options,’ claiming Uber ‘has fought any attempt to hold it to account to basic standards of safety and liability regulations, labor rights, environmental sustainability, data transparency, and compliance with civil rights laws such as the Americans With Disabilities Act,’ according to a release.”
Pittsburgh Demands Protections for Immigrants, Transparency from Uber
“Protesters called on Uber to pay drivers a living wage, comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and allow workers to unionize.
Tom Conroy, a Port Authority bus driver and a board member for the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85, agreed. He said as Uber’s technologies displace jobs, the company has an obligation to ease the transition.
‘They make money in our cities,” he said. “So they need to contribute to our cities to help keep the cities healthy that make them wealthy.’”
The Struggles of Being Carless in Pittsburgh
“”My impression right now is that people can live in Pittsburgh without a car, and many residents do,’ says Molly Nichols, community organizer at Pittsburghers for Public Transit, a grassroots organization. ‘Some do by choice, but the majority of the time it’s a financial necessity that they’re unable to afford.’
Overall, 29 percent of all Port Authority of Allegheny County transit riders don’t have access to vehicles, according to agency data.”
Activism on the Subway Platform
“Pittsburghers for Public Transit (PPT) organizes riders in “transit deserts,” neighborhoods where residents must walk over a mile to get to the nearest bus, or where bus service runs only in the morning and afternoon. Director Molly Nichols, who joined the group in 2014, has overseen six successful neighborhood campaigns aimed at pressuring the transit authority to restore canceled routes and add new service for residents. While Nichols and her staff help facilitate meetings and weigh in on strategy, committees of residents in the affected neighborhoods make the campaign decisions. In Baldwin (a working-class borough south of Pittsburgh), residents gathered over 1,500 signatures to deliver to the transit agency board. They also organized a successful stunt, inviting politicians, transit staff, and the press to walk the mile and a half that separated them from the nearest bus stop. And after a year of effort, they won their bus service back.”
Pittsburgh’s Planning Commission Didn’t Approve this Controversial Project in East Liberty. Here’s Why.
“Molly Nichols, director of Pittsburghers for Public Transit, also opposes the proposal, writing to the commission, ‘You may want to create mixed income neighborhoods, but the only way to do that, without displacing long-time residents, is by building more affordable units into the new developments.'”
Planning Commission Postpones Vote on East Liberty Development
“A vote on the preliminary land development for 9.3 acres in East Liberty — known for the dislocation of residents of the Penn Plaza Apartments earlier this year — was postponed Tuesday evening after a lengthy hearing.
More than 100 people turned out for the city Planning Commission meeting, sitting on the floor, standing along walls and in the hallway at 200 Ross St. Many lined up to testify against a plan that includes no affordable homes in a 400-unit redevelopment that would include a Whole Foods Market.”
Vote Delayed on Controversial High-End Housing in East Liberty
“Scores of Pittsburghers urged the city Planning Commission on Tuesday to reject, or at least delay, a Downtown real estate firm’s plans to build high-end housing on the site of a shuttered low-income apartment complex in East Liberty, attacking the project as gentrification.
“Redevelopment in the (1960s) took years, and there were a lot of mistakes made,” said Sallyann Kluz of East Liberty. “Please give us the time so we don’t make them again.”
What Can be Done to Expand Public Transit to Underserved Communities?
“However, Nichols, of Pittsburghers for Public Transportation, points out that public-private partnerships also mean giving public money to private companies that don’t always look out for their workers. Nichols would rather see Port Authority expand because being a bus driver is a “family-sustaining” job that low-income residents have access to.
To build out Port Authority’s current system without affecting low-income families, Nichols’ group believes the county should tax corporations. The group submitted a white paper this March requesting a county tax on corporate profits to increase funds for public transit. PPT cites the nation’s growing corporate profits and shrinking corporate-tax revenue over the years as reasons corporations should contribute.
‘Major corporations and institutions in our region couldn’t function without our public-transportation system,’ says Nichols. ‘Some of their profits should pay into that system.’ ”
Residents of Low-Income West Mifflin Community Want their Bus Service Back
“LaKeisha Bighum had finished her shift at the Allegheny County Jail only a few hours before she testified to the Port Authority board Friday morning.
But Bighum, a single mom of two and resident of a Section 8 community in West Mifflin, said it was important for her to show up to urge the board to restore bus service to her neighborhood.
A handful of residents from Mifflin Estates testified to the board about the effects of losing bus service in 2009: paying $40 a weekend just to get to work; walking more than a mile along a busy road without a sidewalk to get to the nearest bus stop; feeling isolated in what they’ve dubbed ‘the island.'”
Mifflin Estates Pushes for Renewed Bus Service
“Resident Maria Green, who moved back to West Mifflin from Chicago recently, said she takes home $244 every two weeks at a weekend job but has to spend $40 each weekend to pay for a ride to the nearest bus stop. She tearfully told the board she also needs radiation treatment five days a week for breast cancer and has trouble getting there.
‘To get to a bus stop, you have to pay $5 to $10 a day for a ride,’ she said. ‘What else do we have to do to get our bus back?'”
Event in East Liberty to Celebrate Transit Improvements for Penn Hills, Garfield, East Hills Riders
“Molly Nichols, a community organizer of Pittsburghers for Public Transit, said the event will highlight the expanded service and acknowledge the efforts to reach a common goal.
‘So many hundreds of residents came together to advocate for (more accessible transit),’ Nichols said.”
Advocates ask Port Authority of Allegheny County to move toward all-electric fleet
“While air quality in Pittsburgh has improved over the last several decades,” says Rachel Filippini, of Group Against Smog and Pollution, or GASP. “We continue to have some of the worst air pollution in the country, especially in terms of fine-particulate matter. One source of these emissions is Port Authority buses.”
Port Authority of Allegheny County considers adding electric buses
Several community-based groups implored the Port Authority to “green” its fleet as much and as soon as possible.
Those groups included the Allegheny County Transit Council, the Group Against Smog and Pollution, Pittsburghers for Public Transit and 350 Pittsburgh.
“Renewable energy has never had stronger support from the government, corporations and the public,” said Fred Kraybill of Point Breeze, a member of the 350 group.
Riders want Port Authority to further boost service
That means requests such as daily service north of West View on Route 19, which received a high rating from from authority staff, can’t be filled. Several speakers reiterated the need for service to public facilities in McCandless such as Community College of Allegheny County’s North Campus and Northland Public Library.
“The fact the kids can’t get to a college in their own neighborhood, that’s just a crime,” said Fran Lange of Ross, a member of Buses for Perry Highway. “There are a lot of senior citizens that would love to go to the library, but you can’t get there.”
Port Authority Proposal Would Expand Bus Services
Proposed changes add Port Authority bus lines to Penn Hills, Garfield
The Port Authority’s proposed budget for next year includes added bus lines that people with Pittsburghers for Public Transit have been asking for.
The $1.3 million in the budget dealing with added routes includes weekend service to Garfield and service along Mt. Carmel road in Penn Hills.
Port Authority improvements don’t go far enough, advocates say
Residents and community groups who spoke before authority board members during a meeting Friday mostly applauded the $1.3 million in added services expected to start this fall. But they also said the agency needs to do more to serve areas that lost bus access when the then-financially fragile authority cut routes in 2007 and 2011.
Bus-service upgrades in Penn Hills part of Port Authority budget proposal up for vote
After considering 85 distinct requests from about 1,500 residents in its service area, Port Authority of Allegheny County board members proposed improving bus service for Penn Hills riders with more frequent stops and extended routes.
“We are glad there is this … opportunity to expand transportation in Penn Hills because it is greatly needed. We see so many residents who struggle to get to appointments, jobs, training programs, and the store,” said Joyce Davis of the Lincoln Park Community Center and Penn Hills NAACP in a release about a news conference that the nonprofit Pittsburghers for Public Transit was to hold Downtown on Friday.
Port Authority: No more free buses, zones, cash on trains
Molly Nichols, a community organizer with Pittsburghers for Public Transit, said they “wholeheartedly supports reducing the Zone 2 fare. … We regularly talk to riders in (more outlying suburban areas in) Zone 2 who have trouble paying the current high fares. And folks who live in the city have trouble paying to get to job centers in Zone 2.”
But Nichols said PPT opposes the surcharges for cash-paying customers, along with the high cost of transferring for cash-paying customers.
UPDATED: Port Authority of Allegheny County board to vote on fare changes tomorrow
“All transfers should be free. It’s not cool to be taking the last free transfer away.”- Molly Nichols of PPT.
Seeking an Upset, Sanders Campaign Searches for Votes in Pennsylvania’s Lost Communities
PPT is in the Nation!
“Our organization is not very invested in electoral politics,” she says. “But I’ve seen bus drivers excited about the way Bernie is talking about taking on the billionaires. And the way Sanders is energizing young people is really powerful.”
When transit costs are included, study finds ‘affordable’ housing often isn’t
“People making decisions about housing need to make sure people are going to have access to transit. People making decisions about transit need to make sure their system is connected to places where people can afford housing,” said Molly Nichols, an organizer with the group.
“Our organization thinks that those communities deserve transit service. And we are concerned that more and more residents in the city of Pittsburgh cannot find affordable housing in the city, and go outside the city, where they don’t have good access to transit,” Ms. Nichols said.
Pittsburgh Celebrating National Transit Worker Appreciation Day
“We appreciate the opportunity to thank and honor the 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.”
Port Authority moves forward with Castle Shannon apartment plan
“People are making it a higher priority to live in communities that are more connected,” Lodico said. “These connected places are becoming increasingly expensive — prohibitively expensive.”
He urged the board to tackle the issue by requiring affordable housing in its transit-oriented development contracts.
“Make a statement,” he said.
Port Authority gives a go to controversial apartment development at Castle Shannon T stop
Port Authority’s main focus isn’t housing development, but the agency plans to do what it can to make affordable housing a component of future developments built on authority property.
Advocates urge Port Authority to change K-9 practices in wake of deaths
Pittsburghers for Public Transit join groups advocating for changes in use of police dogs
Port Authority hears call for change after deaths of Bruce Kelley Jr. and K-9 Aren
Port Authority ‘sorry’ after shooting death of man who stabbed K-9
People Upset Over Police Shooting Of Man Who Stabbed K-9
Port Authority flat fare on schedule for 2017
Port Authority Fare Change Proposals Debated At Public Hearings
“The group Pittsburghers for Public Transit supports the idea.
Molly Nichols, a spokesperson for that agency, says, ‘We think that’s a really significant step for the transit agency to take because we work with a lot of riders who live in Zone 2 and have a hard time paying that $3.75 fare to get into town.'”
Allegheny County Councilor Ranalli-Russell urges Port Authority to reinstate weekend bus service in Garfield
“The walk from Penn Avenue in Garfield to the top of hill and Garfield Commons Apartments is a doozy. For every 10 feet you walk, you gain a foot of elevation. That’s one-and-a-half times as steep at the Bates Street hill from Second Avenue to Boulevard of the Allies in South Oakland, and twice as steep as the Penn Avenue hill from Doughboy Square in Lawrenceville to Bloomfield. And on the weekends, Garfield residents without cars have no choice but to walk it.”-CP‘s Ryan Deto
“Residents in Garfield have been tirelessly advocating for this service to be reinstated,” wrote Nichols in an email to City Paper, “and they appreciate getting this show of support from their elected officials. The support gets us closer to ensuring that all communities get the transit service they need.”
It’s A Bird, It’s A Plane, It’s A Super Stop
PPT community organizer, Molly Nichols, called in to Essential Pittsburgh to discuss the new super stop at Smithfield and 6th downtown. PPT would to thank Mayor Peduto and Envision Downtown for looking out for the 6,500 riders that use this stop everyday.
New Transit App Allows Real Time Tracking Of Port Authority Buses
Nichols was also featured on KDKA tv news to help spread information about real time technology that can help improve the experience of everyday transit users. Services like Port Authority’s TrueTime and the Transit App are available free to all riders.
Bus stop upgrades on Smithfield St part of a bigger transformation
“A new bus stop located on Smithfield Street by the Sixth Street intersection in Downtown, Friday, Jan. 22, 2016. The open-air shelter was privately funded and is built on concrete that juts out into the road to give transit riders more space.”
“Molly Nichols and Casey Stelitano from Pittsburghers for Public Transit rider advocacy group made note of the improvements during Port Authority’s board meeting Friday. They trekked over to the intersection to have riders sign thank-you cards to Mayor Bill Peduto and Envision Downtown.
Nichols hopes the concept can be replicated, calling it “a small improvement that makes a big difference.””
Bus Riders Unite for Service Rally a Success!
Dozens of transit riders and community members came out to speak and to stand together in the fight for better bus service. Many testimonies and heartfelt accounts were given about the lack of service and its effect on individuals from all walks of life. Groups from Penn Hills, Garfield, and Perry Highway came out in support of transit improvements in their neighborhoods and for all those who need it.
The event garnered a large amount of media attention and was covered by WPXI, WTAE, the Post-Gazette, WESA, and KDKA:
Dozens rally Downtown in push for expanded bus service in North Hills, East End
Group urges Port Authority of Allegheny County to fund more transit routes
Port Authority continues to hear pleas for expanded bus service
Suburban residents fill Port Authority meeting to max capacity, demanding bus service additions
Riders rally downtown for more Port Authority bus service
Port Authority Board Hears Resident Requests
Rally Calls For Increased Port Authority Bus Service
Highlights from speakers:
Ken Love (Penn Hills): I see young single mothers walking with their little kids, struggling to keep their kids safe, and then struggling to come back with 3 or 4 bags.
Annie Howard (Perry Highway): Today we alluded to a possible trend in less ridership, which I find strange, because there is a whole room of people behind me that are clamoring for service.
Del Royce Tatum (Garfield) : I would like to invite you to a weekend adventure in Garfield heights, we will go shopping, maybe the movies if you like. Please understand our plight, we have no cars, or a bus to get there. We have the 89 running Monday through Friday. But on the weekends we have nothing. We buy monthly bus passes just like everybody else, but we don’t have monthly service. You have been robbing us of our monies and are freedoms, because we don’t have bus service on the weekend.
Post-Gazette Editorial Board pens op-ed on transit deserts
The Post-Gazette has published an article calling that PAAC’s surplus funding should go to addressing service gaps and needs. The op-ed comes after the October 23rd PAAC board meeting at which over 20 residents and community leaders spoke about lack of service in their neighborhoods.
Read more: Transit deserts: The Port Authority must try to find relief
Residents urge Port Authority to reconsider route eliminations
Residents from Garfield, Perry Highway, and Penn Hills came together to speak at a Port Authority board meeting to call for adequate bus service in their neighborhoods.
October 23, 2015
Watch more: http://www.wtae.com/news/residents-urge-port-authority-to-reconsider-route-eliminations/36008860
Read More: http://www.post-gazette.com/news/transportation/2015/10/23/Groups-ask-for-restored-Port-Authority-bus-service-in-North-Hills-Penn-Hills-Pittsburgh-s-East-End/stories/201510230248
Port Authority instituting a new era of equity and transparency
“We have been asking for more transparent processes for years, so it was great to see,” says Molly Nichols, community organizer for PPT. “It was definitely a step in the right the direction.”
September 23, 2015
Restored Service To Baldwin, Groveton Squelches Four-Year ‘Transit Desert’
Coverage of our celebratory rally!
Laura Wiens, emcee of the rally, celebrates restoration of PAT service to parts of Baldwin and Groveton
September 9, 2015
Two ‘transit deserts’ get bus service back
Darnell Jones, of Groveton, speaks at the rally celebrating the renewed bus service to his community.
September 9, 2015
Pittsburgh bus riders celebrate expanded service
September 9, 2015
Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/9056072-74/bus-riders-authority#ixzz3nKnYWyFJ
Extended bus route in Baldwin Borough gives riders more options
Jennifer and Jon Herron, both 30, stand by a new bus stop across from their home in Baldwin Borough on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015. Jennifer Herron lives in Baldwin and works Downtown – she carpools but soon will take the new Port Authority 44 Knoxville, which will stop right by her house.
Community organizer for Pittsburghers for Public Transit Molly Nichols of Regent Square pushes her bike up a hill in Baldwin Borough to one of the new bus stops that will be available to the area on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015. Nichols organized the community to work to regain some bus service that was eliminated in previous years.
August 12, 2015
Read more: http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/alleghenyneighborhoods/alleghenyneighborhoodsmore/8341095-74/baldwin-bus-service#ixzz3nKnAmZIB
Transit groups push for more bus funding in highway bill
A group of 81 public transportation unions and advocacy groups pushes congress to increase federal funding for bus companies in a transportation spending bill that is coming up for renewal at the end of the month.
July 20, 2015
Bus route to return to north Baldwin
An extension of the 44 Knoxville bus line will provide service to the Churchview Avenue section of Baldwin, an area lacking public transportation since cuts were made to routes in 2011.
July 15, 1015
Read more: http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/yoursouthhills/yoursouthhillsmore/8730668-74/baldwin-bus-avenue#ixzz3nKlhPZt0
Port Authority panel holds off vote on $3 fee for ConnectCards
A Port Authority board committee put the brakes on a proposed $3 fee for new or replacement ConnectCards on Thursday after a survey and public hearings showed strong opposition among riders.
July 16, 2015
Rating service: Port Authority seeks to keep the public in transit
With the Port Authority’s release of new draft service guidelines, Allegheny County residents will soon have a say in how to improve the public transit network.
June 2, 2015
Moon residents lobbying for Port Authority bus ‘tweak’
“This proposal indicates the Port Authority’s willingness to listen to the voices of community members and to take steps to address their needs,” said Jonah McAllister-Erickson, Coordinating Committee chair.
May 30, 2015
Better fiscal health leads Port Authority to add service
Under the Port Authority’s preliminary budget, the base bus fare would remain at $2.50.
May 21, 2015
Transportation advocates urge Congress to move on funding
Chris Sandvig, regional policy director for Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group, speaks today about the importance of federal transportation during a press conference at the Wood Street T Station, Downtown.
April 9, 2015
People in Baldwin need transit help
A piece by Baldwin resident, Bob Ieraci, that draws attention to the depth of his communities need for service.
December 9, 2014
Port Authority adding trips to nine bus routes starting Nov. 23
Trips will be added to 12 McKnight, 16 Brighton, 38 Green Tree, 56 Lincoln, 91 Butler Street, G3 Moon Flyer, P2 East Busway Short, P68 Braddock Hills Flyer and Y47 Curry Flyer.
November 10, 2014
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/news/transportation/2014/11/10/Pittsburgh-Port-Authority-adding-trips-starting-Nov-23/stories/201411100165
PennDOT Pedestrian Bridge To Use PAT Funding
“In 2009 a court ruling stated that the drink and car rental taxes could only be used for PAT expenditures , yet the $1 million bridge will be paid for with those taxes and built by PennDOT.”- Jess Lasky, WESA
November 3, 2014
Commuters in ‘transit deserts’ call for renewed Port Authority bus service
The Townshipf of Baldwin, CCAC North, and Penn State Greater Allegheny call attention to their service needs.
October 22, 2014
Read more: http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/alleghenyneighborhoods/alleghenyneighborhoodsmore/6976576-74/authority-service-port#ixzz3nKLW0eal
Don’t leave transit deserts high and dry
“The Port Authority’s top priority should be serving those with little or no access to transportation”, a piece by PPT’s Nick Coles and Molly Nichols.
October 5, 2014
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/Op-Ed/2014/10/05/Don-t-leave-transit-deserts-high-and-dry-1/stories/201410050179
Baldwin riders protest for more South Hills bus routes
September 6, 2014
Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/6742697-74/authority-port-routes#ixzz3nKQKWv4P
Baldwin residents campaign for return of bus route
Sissy Edelman of Brentwood (back left) and Mitzie Biertempfel of Baldwin Borough, look on while Cathy Szemanski of Baldwin Borough (front left) and Louise Weil of Baldwin Borough sign a petition to bring port authority buses back to Baldwin.
September 3, 2014
Read more: http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/yoursouthhills/yoursouthhillsmore/6577339-74/baldwin-public-transit#ixzz3nKPsb5CO
Don’t blame bus drivers
A piece by Alan Hart, member of Pittsburghers for Public Transit and managing editor of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America’s UE News.
August 18, 2014
Read more: http://triblive.com/opinion/letters/6622166-74/drivers-transit-bus#ixzz3nKOXApjz
Port Authority standing pat on routes
Riders pushing service restoration
July 26, 2014
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/news/transportation/2014/07/26/Port-Authority-standing-pat-on-routes/stories/201407260019
Route Questions: Baldwin residents pushing the conversation on transit route restoration
PPT and Baldwin residents point out the need for adequate and effective service in their area.
July 16, 2014
Read more: http://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/route-questions-baldwin-residents-pushing-the-conversation-on-transit-route-restoration/Content?oid=1765336
Port Authority stabilizes but isn’t ready to restore routes
“Increased state funding has Port Authority of Allegheny County on solid financial footing for the first time in years, but the agency isn’t ready to restore service to communities that lost it during cutbacks three years ago, officials said.”
June 29, 2014
Port Authority board to hold special Bus Rapid Transit meeting
The Port Authority board announces it will hold a public meeting to discuss possible funding streams for a $4 million study of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) — a project that would create separately branded rapid bus service between Downtown and Oakland.
June 27, 2014
Expert recommends technology, cultural changes at Port Authority
“The customer must be the focus of the entire strategic plan. The riders here feel a little bit left out.”-David Leininger, vice president and chief financial officer for Dallas Area Rapid Transit
May 21, 2014
Transit Route: PAT looking for input on the agency’s future direction
“This is the moment to decide, ‘Where do we want to go as a region?'”Port Authority spokesman Jim Ritchie
May 14, 2014
PPT celebrated the passage of the transportation bill in November of 2013, thanks to the support of people like you! The good news from the bill: no more service cuts. The bad news: it was designed for Port Authority to only “maintain existing service” and not to restore the service that has been cut over the years.
This is a problem. Some residents in our county walk over 2 miles to get to a single bus stop. We’ve been mobilizing residents in these “transit deserts.” Residents from Baldwin borough have gotten together to advocate for service in their community–meeting with Port Authority and elected officials, delivering over 1500 petitions, holding a Walk for Transit in September.
Port Authority is now well aware about the needs of this community just 5 miles from downtown Pittsburgh, and the campaign is continuing to push for service this year! Residents in Moon and Groveton (near Coraopolis) have also worked to get their voices heard. We know that when transit riders, transit workers, and residents come together, we gain power.
In addition to these community campaigns, PPT has been advocating for more inclusive and transparent transit planning and decision-making. Port Authority is listening, and they are now working on developing criteria for how and where to add service, including a formal process for how to respond to service requests. This kind of democratic input is crucial for improving our transit system and ensuring it meets the needs of the residents of this county. PPT has also pressured county council to recognize that additional revenue from the drink tax could be allocated for Port Authority operating costs. We understand the funds are limited, but a few million dollars a year could make a huge difference in the kind of service Port Authority can provide.
We have also been conducting research on sustainable transportation, equity, service needs, accessibility, ridership potential, and funding sources.
We are gearing up for the next year and plan to mobilize residents in at least 3 more communities. We encourage you transit supporters to get involved in our campaigns. If you’d like to make a donation, you can do so here.
Thank you for all you’ve done to support public transit, and we look forward to working with you all to ensure that we get service to these transit deserts and keep the public in public transit!