Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett is playing it close to the vest when it comes to what he is willing to do to help the Port Authority of Allegheny County stave off massive service cuts. PAT is set to eliminate 46 of its 102 routes and lay off more than 400 union and non-union employees in an effort to fill a $65 million budget deficit.
Corbett said he has been closely monitoring the talks between the Port Authority and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85, but the two sides will have to agree to cuts before additional state dollars will be allocated to the mass transit system. However, Corbett will not set a specific level.
"I am not going to get into negotiating against myself right now," said Corbett. Other news outlets have reported that Corbett is willing to kick in $35 million, but he says he has never set such a number.
"This is a county problem. We will help but the … Port Authority and the union have to reach an agreement that we think is satisfactory," said Corbett.
In the meantime, contract talks between the union and PAT management are continuing. Port Authority CEO Steve Bland said he remains optimistic that an agreement will be reached. PAT spokesperson Jim Ritchie said the authority will have to send the new route maps and schedules to the printer August 10th, but he thinks the cuts can be avoided even if a new deal is reached just days before the September 2nd cuts take effect.