Rendell says he has found money to avert transit cuts!
Rendell says he has found money to avert transit cuts
Thursday, December 02, 2010
By Jon Schmitz, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Gov. Ed Rendell today announced a $45 million allocation that would allow the Port Authority to avert record-breaking service cuts planned for March.
After meeting privately with members of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, a 10-county regional planning agency whose board must vote on the allocation, Mr. Rendell said the planned transit cuts would have devastated the region’s economy.
He said the $45 million is federal economic development funding that was allocated to projects that haven’t moved forward.
Mr. Rendell on previous occasions has redirected federal highway money to bail out the transit agency. The SPC in July signaled its opposition to another so-called “flex” of highway money to transit. This time, “We’re not asking for dollars to be taken from highways to be paid into mass transit,” the governor said.
The Port Authority had planned to cut service by 35 percent and eliminate 47 routes on March 13 to address a projected $47 million deficit in its 2010-11 budget.
Port Authority CEO Steve Bland said today if the SPC approves the reallocation at its Dec.13 meeting, it would buy a one-year reprieve from service cuts.
He was not certain if the infusion would cancel plans for a scheduled Jan. 1 fare increase.
Mr. Rendell also described the reallocation as a temporary fix to give his successor, Tom Corbett, and legislators time to address the larger issue of the transportation funding shortfall.
Act 44, the state’s transportation funding law, fell apart this year when the federal government rejected the state’s plans to impose tolls on Interstate 80. That reduced available funding for highways, bridges and transit statewide by $472 million.
Mr. Rendell said it would have been unfair to expect Mr. Corbett, who takes office in January, to address the Port Authority deficit in his first weeks as governor.
More details in tomorrow’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.