Transportation
3:30 am
Sun June 2, 2013

Pittsburghers for Public Transit to Rally in Capitol

The advocacy group Pittsburghers for Public Transit (PPT) plans to hold a rally on June 4 in the Capitol Rotunda to call for funding and better conditions for public transit in Pennsylvania.

PPT Community Organizer Helen Gerhardt said they plan on visiting the office of every state legislator to tell them why public transit is crucial.

“Many people don’t realize just how important public transit is to the urban tax base, which then supports the entire state budget including funds for roads and bridges,” Gerhardt said.

When the PPT returns to the Capitol, Rep. Dan Frankel, Sen. Jay Costa, Port Authority of Allegheny County drivers and riders are expected to speak about their experiences with transit and a piece of legislation Sen. John Rafferty has proposed.

Gerhardt said Rafferty’s legislation is the first that puts forward funding proposals for public transit that would hold off cuts for another 10 years.

“It’s definitely a better start than the governor’s plan,” Gerhardt said. “Under the governor’s plan, drastic cuts here in Pittsburgh would be staved off for a few more years, but probably in three years we would once more be looking at significant cuts in service.”

Gerhardt said there is bipartisan support for the bill in the Senate, but the PPT has concerns about the House.

“We are very aware that state legislators who live in rural areas simply haven’t received good information so they’re not seeing that crucial link between a public transit system and the health of their own local transportation infrastructure,” Gerhardt said.

PPT is asking those who cannot board the bus to Harrisburg to go online and sign a Transit Bill of Rights petition, which calls for a safe, reliable and affordable transit that is accessible to everyone.

“This region has already taken some pretty big hits," Gerhardt said. "There’s a lot of riders who at this point don’t have weekend service, don’t have evening service. In many places where there is still service, the buses are so packed that they have to actually pass people by.”

Gerhardt said it is crucial for riders, drivers and other transit supporters to speak out to their public officials.