#VoteTransit County Executive Candidate Q&A: Dave Fawcett

image description: graphic with a photo of Dave Fawcett superimposed over a PRT bus and a yellow/red background.

The Allegheny County Executive is the most powerful person in Southwestern Pennsylvania when it comes to public transit – so it is vital for transit riders to elect a #TransitChampion into the position. The County Executive controls the majority of appointments to the Pittsburgh Regional Transit Board of Directors which control the transit agency’s $500+ million Operating Budget and $200+ million Capital Budget. Additionally, the County Executive controls board appointments and hundreds of millions of budget dollars at numerous County entities that directly impact the public transit system and its riders, such as the County Housing Authority, the County Department of Human Services, and the County Economic Development agency. Good people, robust budgets and progressive policy at all of these entities can transform transit in Allegheny County.

To ensure that transit riders are educated on where these candidates stand on public transit issues and what their vision is for our system, Pittsburghers for Public Transit issued a candidate questionnaire to all of the candidates running for our county’s top posiiton. Check out the answers that this candidate gave to our questionnaire below.

There’s big potential for having a #TransitChampion as the next County Executive, so transit riders are making some big demands. You can read the demands that riders are making for our next County Executive and sign-on to support below:

Dave Fawcett’s Answers to the #VoteTransit County Executive Candidate Questionnaire

1. What is your vision for restoring and expanding transit service frequency, span and coverage in the County? 

Dave Fawcett: Relative to bus and T service, I am in favor of just about anything that will increase ridership, especially among those who most need public transportation: members of marginalized communities; people without cars who need to get to work and job sites; and our elderly and disabled populations. I see cutting or eliminating fares for those under the median income level being critical to restoring ridership. I also see emphasizing creativity and evidenced-based solutions for increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of public transportation. Finally, we absolutely must address the issue of the ongoing shortage of operators…a deepening issue for PRT. I also see more rail and subway transportation as part of the vision for expanding transit service in Allegheny county. As a long time bus rider and passionate advocate for sustainability and equity, restoring and expanding transit service in Allegheny County is a pillar of my campaign and platform. 

2. If you were the County Executive, would you commit to ensuring that the Department of Human Services discount fare program pilot becomes a permanent zero fare program for all SNAP/EBT households in Allegheny County? How would you ensure that DHS has sufficient resources to sustainably run the full program? 

Dave Fawcett: Yes. 

As for sustainability of funding solutions, I would encourage and negotiate with employers and non-profits to supplement or fully pay for fares incurred by their students, patients and employees. Paying for public transportation as part of an employee’s compensation package is an idea that has been implemented in the past and should be implemented on a large scale. There are many other creative solutions for ensuring funding for such a needed and worthwhile program as the zero fare proposal for SNAP/EBT households. 

3. As County Executive, how will you ensure that developers in Allegheny County are building more affordable housing near great public transit? 

Dave Fawcett: I would seek to encourage the passage of local zoning ordinance changes that would facilitate and in place require affordable housing. I would not tolerate economic incentives (such as TIFs) without requiring accompanying affordable housing. Finally, I would encourage PRT investment in better facilities and stops near actual and potential affordable housing sites. 

4. How will you ensure that transit riders have a meaningful voice and decision making power at the highest level of Pittsburgh Regional Transit (PRT)? 

Dave Fawcett: I would be sure to appoint riders to the PRT Board. I would have public hearings and make inquiries. Most importantly, I would insist that PRT make changes in routes, facilities and programs as suggested by transit riders for the purpose and with the effect of increasing ridership.

5. What ideas do you have for increasing the amount of regional funding going to PRT? 

Dave Fawcett: Seek partial funding from employers and non-profit organizations (see above); otherwise, the Drink Tax has been a good supplement to funding and I would be willing to explore other such creative solutions if the need arises. 

6. As County Executive, how will you ensure that corporations and large employers in Allegheny County provide more funding for our transit system? 

Dave Fawcett: See answer to #2 above. I think there is also potential for corporations, specifically tech-based ones, to make contributions to public transportation through consulting services to improve the digital functionality of our public transportation. 

7. As County Executive, how will you ensure that both language access and disability access are central considerations in all the programs and agencies that they are overseeing. 

Dave Fawcett: I would insist on it. I would seek to appoint a member of the Board to represent the interests of the disability community and other minority populations.