Residents thank Port Authority for service proposals; encourage small tweaks to help more areas

Over 10 county residents spoke at the Port Authority board meeting this morning. They thanked the agency for proposing service in 4 communities, including Baldwin and Groveton. These changes will make a huge difference in people’s lives, allowing them to get to school, work, the doctor, shopping centers, friends’ houses, and more. Residents also made suggestions for tweaks to get service in more areas. A huge thanks to everyone who has been part of this effort!

Post Gazette coverage: click here


See below for the public comment from Jonah McAllister-Erickson, on behalf of PPT:

Pittsburghers for Public Transit and the community members we have been working with for several years were thrilled to hear that the Port Authority’s proposal for service changes next fiscal year includes extending service into transit deserts, such as Baldwin and Groveton. This proposal indicates the Port Authority’s willingness to listen to the voices of community members and to take steps to address their needs. You may have limited resources, but working toward more equity in our transit system, which has the added benefit of increasing ridership, is the right thing to do. And we commend you for taking these steps.

Darnell Jones, a Groveton resident, who isn’t able to be here today because he is at work, has said “The families in Groveton appreciate that Port Authority has listened to the word of the people. If the proposed extension of the 20 Kennedy is approved, people will be able to find jobs and get to the supermarket, other stores, and doctor’s appointments.”

As you’ve heard today, the Baldwin residents are very happy to know they could be getting service back in the community, and they are deeply grateful. They still have concerns about the residents in the Willett Ave corridor and hope that some solution can be found.

Not every community in our county is getting what they need, and we will continue to advocate with riders, workers, and residents to ensure that the staff, board, elected officials, and public can all work to have an adequate transit system for our county’s residents.

We urge you to approve these service extensions and to determine if there are still ways to make inexpensive tweaks to get service to areas in need.

We’d now like to briefly discuss the recently proposed service guidelines. We support the move toward more inclusive and transparent processes, and we also appreciate that you have created some time for public comment. You will hear comments from our members using the online form in the coming month.

Public transit agencies cannot make decisions based on cost and efficiency alone, and we are pleased to see equity as a key category in the proposed service guidelines.  Our main concern about these guidelines is the lack of clarity over how the 3 categories (equity, efficiency, and effectiveness) are weighted in decision-making. We call for the prioritization of equity, and would urge that route report cards have an equity score added to them.  We applaud the Port Authority’s recognition, in the proposed service guidelines, of the disproportionate importance public transit plays in low-income communities, and to the lives of transit dependent riders. And we expect the Port Authority to continue to go beyond the minimum requirements of Title VI and the ADA to ensure our transit system strives to connect all the different people of Allegheny County to life. Finally, we are pleased to see there is no fare hike planned for next year, which we know our riders appreciate.