On Wednesday, November 29, dozens of climate and grassroots community activists testified at Pittsburgh City Council chambers about Pittsburgh’s proposed Climate Action Plan. PPT issued the following call to our elected officials:
The Pittsburgh climate action plan has positive, attainable goals for public transit in our region, and highlights the importance of public transit in building a sustainable future. Pittsburghers for Public Transit celebrates the intention to have the amenities and efficiency of a bus rapid transit (BRT) system, to move to an all-electric bus fleet, and to double transit ridership by 2030. And we are glad to see that the Port Authority is taking initial steps towards greening their fleet, even if the full BRT project is not realized. However, we are deeply troubled by the city’s plan for implementation of the BRT, which actually threatens existing transit ridership in the Mon Valley. The riders of the 61 A,B and C are facing a 45% cut in the frequency of their service, and are facing the additional financial and physical burden of mandatory transfers in Oakland to complete their rides to downtown. Riders in Braddock, Duquesne and McKeesport often have no other transit options, and many are the service workers that are the economic underpinning of our major city employers. We are urging the city council not to foolishly implement one goal of the climate action plan—the BRT—at the expense of another—ie. the maintenance and growth of our current transit ridership. Many of the transit efficiency components of this BRT project like bus-only lanes, signal prioritization and jump lanes for buses are relatively inexpensive but very effective, and should be considered in other routes in our system as well.
As recently as this past September, state legislators tried to cannibalize our state transit funding under Act 89 to cover the PA budget shortfall. Act 89 is also set to expire in 2022. We ask the city council to insist on truly long-term dedicated funding for transit at a state and regional level, so that riders can purchase homes, plan their bus routes and build their lives around these lifelines without worrying that they will abruptly be taken away. Stable, dedicated transit funding is THE recipe for doubling transit ridership, so that “climate action” is not merely a slogan, but actually a plan.