State Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) has been appointed to a four-year term on the Port Authority (PAT) of Allegheny County Board of Directors.
The former mayor of the City of McKeesport was chosen by Sen. Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) to be a representative from the Senate Democratic Caucus and is the first member under a new appointment process.
Brewster, a member of the Senate Transportation Committee, said the new board needs to be able to work together in order to solve the big problems.
“It’s important to have bipartisan representation on the board and now we have that,” Brewster said. “… now we can’t have the finger pointing. We’re going to have a bipartisan board representing a large system that we desperately need in Allegheny County.”
Gov. Tom Corbett signed a bill on July 18 that restructured the PAT Board from 9 to 11 members. The bill gives the County Executive four selections, two of which must be recommended by the Allegheny Conference, the Allegheny Council of Governments, the Committee for Accessible Transportation and the Southwest Planning commission.
The bill also gives two picks to the minority party on county council. These local board members are joined by five state appointments: one from the governor and one from each of the four caucuses of the Pennsylvania General Assembly.
Brewster said he wants to bring a level a transparency to the board so people can learn the true costs of public transportation.
“For too many years, that was always something that was only discussed in the board room. Those things should be reported and communicated,” Brewster said. “When you have tax payers’ dollars involved, there are tax payers obviously paying their taxes who may never use mass transit. We have to convince them that that’s a worthwhile product.”
About 230,000 people utilize public transportation in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County every day. PAT employs about 2,400 people.