#VoteTransit County Executive Candidate Q&A: Michael Lamb

image description: graphic with a photo of Michael Lamb 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:

Michael Lamb’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? 

Michael Lamb: I believe that Allegheny County needs and deserves a world-class public transit system that keeps all of our communities connected, helps drive the engine of our economic development, and helps attract and retain workers and businesses as we continue to grow. My vision for our system, at its most basic level, is that everyone in Allegheny County should be able to reliably get anywhere they need to go in the county-–to work, to see a doctor, to get groceries, to visit friends and family-–in a reasonable time, with reasonable convenience, for a price they can afford. And I believe that the workers who keep that system running should be paid well and receive good benefits. That should be the goal, and as County Executive I will work towards making that goal a reality while prioritizing improved services and greater affordability for those members of our communities who are most in need and most reliant on public transportation. 

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?  

Michael Lamb:  Yes, I would commit to working towards turning the discount fair pilot program into a zero fare program for all SNAP/EBT households in Allegheny County. DHS is almost half the budget of the 3 billion dollar budget of the county. There are enough funds as it stands, but we could be better using those funds. I’m confident that we can bring together all policymakers and stakeholders to find creative solutions to address our transit funding challenges while ensuring that the neediest members of our communities have full and free access to our public transit system. 

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

Michael Lamb: We need to think of public transit development as community development, because our public transit is truly a lifeline for many. I believe that transit-oriented development should be a cornerstone of our future economic development priorities in Allegheny County. As we continue to grow and attract a new generation of people who value high-quality public transportation options, I think it is in developers’ best interests-–and the public’s-–to increase transit-oriented development, and I fully support incentives and requirements to significantly increase affordable housing development as part of those efforts.

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)? 

Michael Lamb: I really enjoyed the ride-along on the 61C and I myself use our buses frequently. I believe the County Executive should do regular ride-alongs to have a hands-on experience of our transit systems. I have always prioritized transparency, inclusiveness and accountability throughout my career, and will continue to do so as County Executive. I believe the people who use and rely on public transit every day-–as well as the workers who keep our transit system running every day-–are some of the best resources we have to understand where our system is succeeding, where we are failing, and where we need to improve. I will ensure that PRT leadership and leaders across county government have regular opportunities to hear from transit riders and workers so that their input can help inform the work we do and hold us accountable as we do it. 

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

Michael Lamb: I think we have a lot of opportunities to leverage state and federal funding, along with greater contributions from corporations and our largest employers, to increase regional transit funding. It will be one of my priorities to pursue those opportunities as we look to make major transit infrastructure investments across the county. I would also welcome your input on any ideas or solutions to help expand PRT funding so we can address the challenges we face and build the world class transit system that we need and deserve in Allegheny County.

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

Michael Lamb: I have spent my career standing up to large corporations who try to cut corners when it comes to doing their fair share for our community. But as much as we need regulation and enforcement, the County Executive needs to have a strong relationship with our largest employers so that they can help the develop opportunities to further invest in the communities their employees work and live, starting with public transportation. I fully support requiring corporations and our largest employers to pay their fair share and contribute to our communities. Many of our largest employers would simply not have a workforce if it were not for the public transit system that their workers rely on every day. They stand to benefit from a high-quality transit system that helps attract and retain talent from across the country. so it is more than reasonable to expect corporations and large employers to more fully invest in our transit system. I am committed to ensuring that they do so.

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?

Michael Lamb: I have always prioritized accessibility in all government services, and I believe that diversity is a tremendous asset as we continue to grow and develop in Allegheny County. I will work to ensure that no one in our communities is ever excluded from fully accessing any government service because of a disability, a language barrier, or any other reason, and I believe any investments we make to achieve that goal will more than pay for themselves.