Public transit advocates have (many) seats at the table as the new Mayoral administration takes office.
Monday, December 20th, Mayor-Elect Ed Gainey held a press conference to release his plan for the mayoral transition and announce the members of the committees who are going to help him in that work. Fortunately for those that care about public transit, affordable housing and an accessible city for all, Mayor-elect Gainey has given us multiple seats at the table.
In his transition plan, the Mayor-Elect announced that he will create the vision for his new administration with the help of four committees:
- EQUITABLE DEVELOPMENT
- EDUCATION AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT
- INFRASTRUCTURE AND ENVIRONMENT
- COMMUNITY HEALTH AND SAFETY
High-quality, accessible public transit is essential to the success of all four of these committees – the Pittsburgh 100 Days Transit Platform can guide us on how to pull them all together.
Transportation is at the intersection of many critical issues; housing, economic development, clean air, community access to school, healthcare, and food. It will be important for all of Mayor-Elect Gainey’s transition committees to consider the role that accessible transportation plays in their success.
The Mayor-Elect has put many of the City’s prominent transportation advocates on the Infrastructure & Environment committee. This is exciting because, as PPT’s new Pittsburgh 100 Days Transit Platform outlines, the city’s infrastructure investment directly impacts the quality and effectiveness of our transit system. Pittsburghers for Public Transit’s own Laura Chu Wiens will sit on this committee, along with BikePGH’s Scott Bricker, Friends of the River Front’s Kelsey Ripper, Hazelwood Initiative’s Tiffany Taulton and others. The committee will be led by Dr. Jamil Bey, of UrbanKind Institute, and Christine Mondor, of evolve environment :: architecture – both of whom have supported the Pittsburgh 100 Day Transit platform and have worked with Pittsburghers for Public Transit many times in past years.
The Pittsburgh 100 Days Transit Platform has numerous recommendations that will help the Equitable Development committee in their charge to focus “on ways to accelerate affordable housing development and provide the necessary supports, especially for families whose household incomes fall between 30% and 80% of the area median income.” These households are those who are disproportionately without access to vehicles and who are using transit. They are also the households who are disproportionately pushed out of the city and farther from quality transit because of rising housing costs. The 100 Days Transit platform’s demands around inclusionary zoning (with higher affordability near great transit lines), parking reform, and transit-oriented development have a high potential for this committee.
The Equitable Development committee will be chaired by Monica Ruiz of Casa San Jose, and Bob Damewood of Regional Housing & Legal Services – both longtime friends and collaborators of PPT’s. Also on this committee are many others who’ve joined PPT in supporting transit justice, including Jennifer Rafanan Kennedy of Pittsburgh United, Carl Redwood Jr of the Pittsburgh Black Workers Center, Jasiri X of 1Hood, and Maria Montano of SEIU Healthcare PA. It’s also worth noting that a Port Authority Board Member, Stephanie Turman, has been appointed here as well.
Great public transit access is also important to Mayor-Elect’s other two committees as well; Education and Workforce Development and Community Health and Safety. The Pittsburgh 100 Days Transit Platform calls for the Mayor to announce a plan to provide transit passes to all city employees. This is a way to encourage the Port Authority to finally begin its bulk bus pass program. UPMC and other huge institutions need to begin paying their fair share for our transit system. If the Mayor plays his part in encouraging a bulk bus pass program, this will be a catalyst that allows institutions to give their employees free transit & the expanded opportunity that comes with it.
The Education and Workforce Development committee is co-chaired by Regina B. Holley, PHD, former Board Director for the School District of Pittsburgh, and Darrin Kelly, President of the Allegheny-Fayette Central Labor Council. The Community Health and Safety committee is co-chaired by Dr. Kathi Elliott of Gwenn’s Girls, and Wasi Mohamed of the Pittsburgh Foundation.