Pittsburghers for Public Transit

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA News

  Nearly 40 people told the Port Authority Board of Trustees Friday that cuts in service over the years has cut them off from getting where they want to be.

In the past few years the port authority has had to decrease service which it blames on inadequate state funding. Residents in Penn Hills want an extension of the 79 route, Garfield residents want weekend service through the neighborhood and students and staff at the Community College of Allegheny County want a route taking them closer to the north campus.

Mike Richards / 90.5 WESA

Two buses pull up to the stop at 6th Avenue and Wood Street in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nothing out of the ordinary, right?

On Wednesday, they carried residents from Baldwin and Groveton Village whose residents haven't had a nearby bus stop since 2011 when the Port Authority of Allegheny County cut services to 15 percent of its users as a cost-savings measure.

The authority's expansion of both the 44 Knoxville route to Baldwin and the 20 Kennedy route to Groveton began Tuesday as part of its quarterly service adjustments.

In 2011, 29 Port Authority (PAT) bus routes were eliminated due to lack of funding, and some residents are questioning why the 2015 Allegheny County budget allocates PAT funds to build a PennDOT pedestrian bridge, instead of working to reinstate the old bus routes.

In 2009 a court ruling stated that the drink and car rental taxes could only be used for PAT expenditures , yet the $1 million bridge will be paid for with those taxes and built by PennDOT.

The Pennsylvania General Assembly has just four voting days left this year, and they still have not passed a transportation funding bill. A Senate bill that would fund roads, bridges and public transit has been languishing since it was passed in June.

Now, a local nonprofit is trying to turn up the heat on key legislators by calling the constituents in their districts.

Flickr user wildcellist

Opposition is starting to pile up for a recently revived proposal to keep buses out of most of the Golden Triangle. 

At the behest of some business owners and a few elected officials, the Port Authority of Allegheny County has been searching for years to find a solution to the congestion caused by buses passing through the heart of downtown.

Most recently, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and City Councilman Bill Peduto proposed that routes be pushed to the edges of downtown, forcing some riders to walk a few extra blocks to get to work. 

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.